Why I Will Never Go To Burning Man.

Via on Aug 26, 2010

(Yet I still dare to call myself an artist.)

I respect the concept of Burning Man and think it’s a pretty cool idea. I say “concept” and “idea” because I’ve never actually been to Burning Man. I can’t remark with confidence on something I’ve never done. And as a rule, I don’t think you can judge something until you’ve experienced it. But I can say with 100% confidence that I will never go to Burning Man.

I’ve lived in the Bay Area since the dawn of “the playa” and have many friends who go every year. I have to live through their waffling for the weeks and months leading up to this August event, and also endure their endless, “You’ve never been to Burning Man? You HAVE to go. YOU would LOVE it!”

I bite my tongue every time a person I just met a minute ago takes me aside, holds my hand, looks me dead in the eye, and tells me with utter confidence that they know for a fact that Burning Man is going to be my personal spiritual salvation. Followed shortly thereafter by some smug commentary about how I can’t possibly know what Burning Man is like, what it’s really all about, until I go and experience it for myself. The convincing is relentless, insistent, and a bit presumptuous.

While I am generally a big believer in trying everything once (except skydiving, crystal meth, and murder), I am quite sure that Burning Man is not for me.

These might be the reasons you think I don’t want to go to Burning Man:

  1. Because I don’t like art. Au contraire, mon ami; I love anything creative! Yay for Burning Man and creativity! With that said, I don’t necessarily think that donning glittery hotpants and phosphorescent platform shoes (and nothing else, for a week) necessarily renders you an “artist.” (And yes, I get it; there’s more to it than that. But, there’s also that.)
  2. Because I don’t get it. I definitely get it. I grew up in a very progressive part of The Berkshires (Massachusetts) where even our summer camps were like mini Burning Mans.  My parents were young idealistic hippies who let us dress ourselves from day one and insisted that we call them by their first names. Our “costume trunk” held more outfits than we had real clothes.  We lived in a tent in the yard for an entire summer while the foundation was being laid for the house my parents built—with their own hands—with wood from an old torn-down tobacco barn. We barely had plumbing, and to this day my mom doesn’t own electric appliances. I think it’s safe to say that my entire upbringing was a prerequisite for Burning Man.
  3. Because I don’t like to get dirty. I’ve heard other people say that they don’t understand why anyone would want to spend a week in the desert getting dirt in every orifice (see below). I actually don’t have a problem with that. I’m not overly attached to showering and quite appreciate the idea of a hot, dusty, dirty week in the desert. Alone.
  4. Because I don’t like camping. I love camping. Again, alone.

Here are the actual reasons why I’m sure Burning Man is not for me:

  1. I don’t like people. Well, let me qualify that. I like people; I just don’t like big groups of them in one place. Especially if that place is locked in by miles of desert and horrible traffic jams.
  2. I don’t like festivals. See above, and also, they are loud, and frantic, and filled with people whose drug ingestion has hindered their perception of appropriate personal space. (Disclaimer: I’m not specifically talking about Burning Man here, since I’ve obviously never been to attest to this myself. I’m just talking about festivals in general and my experience of them.)
  3. The air of preciousness around it. Not long into high school I developed an aversion to clique-ish situations. The moment the world was divided into “been to Burning Man” versus “haven’t been to Burning Man” camps, I knew where I stood. The same place I stood in high school: on the outside.
  4. Because I have an aversion to situations that masquerade as non-conformist when they are actually the norm.  If you’re going to do what everyone else does, don’t pretend like it’s some radically new and different idea that’s going to rock the establishment and start a counterculture.

I’m not the only freak who doesn’t want to go to Burning Man.

I asked a few of my other really cool, creative friends why they won’t go to Burning Man, and here’s what they had to say:

“It seems like the place where repressed people go to give themselves permission to act with abandon.  If I wanted that I’d hang out with Republicans at a rave. ” – Vanessa

“I’m 40, that is why. If I went to Burning Man I would arrive on a private flight, party for 24 hours and fly straight out.  I don’t think I embrace the spirit of the Burn when all I want to do is check out the shit show and shower ASAFP.” – Kevin

“I can see why people go to Burning Man and have a blast.  BUT SORRY, NOT FOR ME.  Where do I even begin?   The idea of spending days in the desert with the sun beating down on me and sand blowing in my face is not my idea of fun.  I would consider going when Four Seasons opens a hotel there.   I could then try to have fun during the day, and then go back to my hotel for a spa treatment, followed by a gourmet meal, and end the day sleeping in a comfortable bed with air-conditioning. ” – Tom

“I’ve never been to Burning Man because it operates on a bartering system and most people want to barter drugs and I hate doing hard drugs in crowds with Port-O-Potties and no showers.  And I hate people that are on drugs.  And I hate Port-O-Potties.  Even though I’m fine with no showers. ” – Leslie

“Burning Man is the king of all icebreakers. Remember in school, or in groups, when the teacher would say, ‘Ok, now I want you to break off into groups and come up with…’ Or, ‘Ok, now we’re going to go around the room and introduce ourselves and say one thing nobody knows about us…’ There are those who cringe and want to cut themselves under the desk when they hear this, and others who are secretly ecstatic at the idea. There are ‘icebreaker lovers’ and ‘icebreaker haters.’ Guess what I am?” – Jen

“It’s a cult started by some man who’s discovered a way to charge thousands of people approximately $300 to go camping. Also, I would die of thirst and starvation out of fear that everything was ‘kool-aid.’ And the freaky ginormous ‘Burning Man’ seems a little too KKK-ish to me. I mean why burn him? At night? Why couldn’t they paint him with glitter or use all that wood to build houses or something?”  – Christine

So yes, I hear you when you say that I would LOVE Burning Man, but trust me on this one, I wouldn’t.

Brilliant illustration uptop by my very talented friend Vanessa Fiola: www.vanessafiola.com

About Joslyn Hamilton

Joslyn Hamilton is a freelance writer living in beautiful Marin County, California. She is one of the co-founders of Recovering Yogi and also launched Creative Truth or Dare. Joslyn has an imaginary spice + skincare line called SimpleBasic. She is a functioning craftaholic and counts hiking, cooking, reading and rabid tweeting among her many chaste vices. Reach her directly at joslyn@recoveringyogi.com

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151 Responses to “Why I Will Never Go To Burning Man.”

  1. Lindsey says:

    OMG MOVE AWAY FROM THE BAY! Ha, and wait for someone to give you a ticket and go for an hour, then when you tell those people they will just stare back at you in horror for not liking it and disgusted at your violation of their special happy place. but also maybe move. That is so sad people ruined bm for you. it is just an over the top party but it isn't actually crowded because it's huge and it is just a beautiful place where you can see the excess that is possible when people bring together everything they can find that blinks, very bizzar, but for some reason one of the most beautiful creations ever.

  2. Karen Eliot says:

    Totally with you. BM is not the same animal it was earlier, in any case.

    And it’s not dirt, it’s talc-fine *caustic alkali*. Sweat at all and your skin burns. I helped a friend clean a tent of playa and it convinced me never to go.

    Once you do go, you will have playa in your stuff for the rest of your life. In everything. It’s unstoppable, you’d have to get rid of everything you own and move to get shed of it!

    The crazy thing is these days I’m getting status updates from Black Rock. Really folks, it *was* about getting away from all that and into a TAZ — a temporary autonomous zone.

    But all my love to those who can afford it and who love it. My friends do build the most amazing things for BM, so it serves a wonderful purpose that way… but I’ll stay home, thank you :)

  3. warriorsaint says:

    I have the same feelings about Burning Man as I do about tattoos: freakishly fascinating from afar but I have no desire to wake up at it or wearing it.

  4. ezekiel says:

    You say you get it… but, wow… you really don't.

  5. Jessica Acs Jamie says:

    A ticket to enlightenment is only $300 away.

  6. Ward Walker says:

    NEVER! Been to the festivals that preceded BM, and from what I have learned from "burners" ( hip-clique name, no doubt ), the entire event is the inclusion of everything that was NOT good about the original events of the past. BM is for city folks to bring their city-shit with them to the desert and have a collective self-congratulatory giant-ego circle-jerk. I, for one, have never been inclined to be around such predictable and predicated exercises in cliquey hipness. The entire idea was a rip-off, and the original gatherings of such events were FREE! ( which would be the proper price for liberation and creativity, of course! ) Art? My ass. What important ANYTHING has come out of BM? Just the inspiration for a slew of anecdotal egotistical ravings, that is all. "Burners" in itself tells the whole story.

  7. Asystolgod says:

    The Butthole Surfers played a show in my hometown! I had to save up money for 2 months to afford a $30 ticket which was well worth it. I see Burning man as a mini Plutarchy. Small group of people making a fuckload of money off a large group. Pay me to go, feed & house my family for the entire event and I will be there, other than that, i have to go make a living.

  8. Monty Hansen says:

    Great article, I knew burningman was not for me, for the exact same reasons – but I have gone the last 2 years because my girlfriend loves it and wants to experience it together. I know if there were something equally important to me, she would go for me, even if it wasn't her thing…but I would much rather spend the week camping by a cool lake in the mountains.

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  10. [...] can see the excess that is possible when people bring together everything they can find that blinksLindsey commenting on “Why I Will Never Go To Burning Man.” | elephant journal Burning [...]

  11. [...] aversion to large unstructured crowd scenes is one of the main reasons I have never had even the slightest inkling of a desire to go to Burning Man and why, every August right around this time, I remember to feel extremely fortunate that I have [...]

  12. Phil Dirt says:

    When someone asked me to explain Burning Man(I've been twice, driving form Tn to Nevada) I say it's childhood relived. You ride bikes everywhere, play dress up, play with fire, camp, stay up late,listen to loud music, build forts, explore and make new friends. If it was closer I would go every year. I literally dream about it all the time. They usually ask about drugs and nakedness and sex. I always say, "It's like any city and you can do what you're into, and get what you want." I have this fear it will no longer be happening the next time I have the opportunity to go.

    • Kate says:

      I don't know about you, but my childhood didn't involve people asking me to flash my tits for a cocktail, or having someone offer me a free cookie only to tell me that I have to let them spank me with a paddle first. There is a lot of pressure to degrade/sexualize yourself to fit in, and that totally ruins the whole carefree childlike experience for me.

  13. Heather says:

    As an artist, the thing I respect about Burning Man is that it’s a democratic free-for-all. It serves as one alternative to the international art fair circuit, which is dominated and controlled by rich collectors and the Art World gate-keepers. And Burning Man is a massive alternative at that – far more impact than your local artist-run show.

    That said, I will probably never go, either. I think I missed the boat. I should have gone when I was a bit younger and could deal with crowds, port-o-potties, and people on drugs. I do love to camp, but in the woods and away from other people!

  14. cathy says:

    I hate the idea of being in 100 degree weather with minimal water and sand covering everything.. Burning in sand!

    I am a member of a large ecstatic dance community whose litanies often echo those you hear. I look at them with energy shields and smile.." you are crazy".

  15. Fancy says:

    BM is a gifting community; NOT a barter system. How can you fault anyone for wanting to break out of the parameters of our existing society for a chance to experience a week without monetary currency, advertising, or technology. This blog did nothing to illuminate the BM experience in any way. Pessimistic and narrow minded people will always find a negative angle on anything, particularly things in which they know nothing about. Quit complaining about your first world problems and do the real work. Your friend was right…people like you really need to be reprogrammed and could benefit from an experience like BM. You need to lose the chip on your shoulder. Om…

    • Kate says:

      bullshit.
      it costs thousands of dollars to go to BM: tickets, food, water, camping gear, transportation, gifts, playa-specific items, etc.

      BM broadcasts a live stream, has radio stations, internet access, is allover Twitter, FB etc. and uses quite a bit of technology to build a city in a desert in high summer.

      There's plenty of self-promotion at BM, which is what ads are.

      And BM is a first world situation of the highest magnitude–it's a gift of massive economic and social privilege.

      this kind of defensive, self righteous, spiteful proteslytizing is what turns people off of BM–and why do you give two fucks if the OP goes or not?

      You need to lose your privileged, mean, narrow minded rancor.

  16. Todd says:

    Couldn't you have just posted these two quotes from yourself and been over with it?
    "In fact, strangely, the only time I feel lonely is when I’m surrounded by people."
    "I'm a happy shut-in."

    Out of curiosity, I read a few more of your "I'm a loner" blog posts, and it seems that for every one positive comment about your solitary life, you make five disparaging remarks about !fun! social situations where there are lots of people.

    Would you consider writing a blog post about the wonders of being alone? I would find that a lot more rewarding and interesting to read than your posts with negative slants.

  17. John King says:

    I have participated in the Texas regional burn event, Burning Flipside, for a number of years now. This year (in just a few days, actually) I'm going to Burning Man for the first time. I am super-stoked.

    The negative or questionable event attributes mentioned in your post, and in many of the comments, are true. So are the positive ones about which Burners speak (incessantly). At a burn one can experience moments of transcendence and spiritual illumination, profound growth, and catharsis. It is generally mixed in with equal amounts of grueling physical discomfort, loneliness and anxiety, and cringe-inducing celebrations of mindless narcissism. Also, a fair amount of boredom and tedious conversation.

    For some a burn event becomes a major milestone in their life, marking an important beginning or end. The blossoming of a new type of awareness, the release of a great burden they didn't even realize was there. For others it's simply a big party offering a week's worth of cheap titillation and epic inebriation. And there are those for whom it is simply a difficult, unpleasant week of wasted vacation time. I suspect for most of us it is all of those things and more.

    For those of us that work hard during the event and throughout the year to provide the infrastructure, support services, and art necessary for a burn I'd like to mention that for many participants discipline, ingenuity and self-sacrifice is an integral part of the culture. But #3 really strikes home: "The air of preciousness around it." While it is disheartening to hear contemptuous and dismissive statements about Burning Man and its participants based on broad generalizations and uninformed assumptions, I have to admit that many burners are delusional True Believers, saddled with the arrogance and smugness that often accompanies that perspective. But despite all of that I still have the desire to participate. It is an adventure of sorts, I enjoy the challenge and have not finished exploring that bit of collective expression. I like your post and do appreciate the reality-check.

  18. Samsa Bee says:

    My husband does not attend nor is he interested in attending. He's not upset about it enough to write a blog, though…You get off the hook I guess since you live in SF ;) Burning man is a great yin yang. It is awesomeness and douchebaggery at its finest. It can be a beautiful exercise in human nature or an absurd twist in human manure. You are right though that many folks are overly outwardly excited about burning man, gotta have some tact…..Someone isnt "lame" just because they do not attend Burning Man. Its time that Burners spread the vibes into the world instead of trying to convince the world to go to the desert stie. That is not going to work…it comes off as exclusive, clubby, and Kool Kidz Kamp. It would be nicer if people would just BE what they think is so awesome about BMan, and maybe show by example of what they love about it instead of being Like All OMG Are You Going To Burning Man? It is sad when someone has such a sad life that they ONLY love that week in the desert, but that is the minority out there. THere are lost souls, but there are all kinds of souls. With that said, It Sucks….Don't Go ;)

  19. Michael says:

    I don't have anything against burning man, but I can't picture myself going out of my way to be there. . . I would be perfectly happy if I just happened to be passing through the dessert one day and burning man was happening! That would be cool and I'd strip down to my undies and cake myself with clay and glitter and find a pair of steampunk goggles, but I do that kinda stuff anyway. I don't need to be at some huge socially sanctioned freak out to let loose, and I also hate meeting new people at parties and festivals. most of them are much lamer in real life than they are at the party. . .

  20. Will says:

    Just as well. You’re clearly Too Cool for it.

    • judo says:

      I went to summerset with my bro and gf. 3 days of music and i might have actually watched about 15 minutes worth of music. i enjoyed going from campsite to campsite meeting people/hanging out.

      if i ever go again i would not buy an event pass, camping only

  21. E! says:

    Yup. BM is a big gathering of privileged first world folk, doing irreparable damage to a very fragile ecosystem, wasting time, energy, fuel and building materials for a self-indulgent self-congragulatory wankfest. But it’s all about the art and self-expression and whatever-whatever. WHATEVER.

  22. ava says:

    why i would never go to burning man either: because its full of assholes! narcissistic hipsters high on themselves and on drugs and alcohol, in the deathly hot sun with no showers, no clean bathrooms, dirt and dust, loud pounding head banging computer generated noise machines 24/7, freezing nights, BYO EVERYTHING. also, that desert land is not meant for humans idiocies to be hedonistically forced upon this part of mother earth. it is very sensitive ground and not meant for this kind of invasion by assholes or anyone else. the native americans in the surrounding area are also very offended by this week long party and dont feel that it is respectful of the land and causes harm to the earth. also interesting that no money is allowed, well, that is after you buy your $400.00 ticket! burning man = something out of a bad dream…

  23. Laura says:

    Love this post. Humorous reminder that there are all types of people in this world whose preferential playtime varies greatly. I am not a joiner in large festivals, large concerts, large camping grounds, etc. It's simply not my thing.

    A man just announced on his facebook page yesterday that he'd be going to BM this year wearing nothing but a helmet and a very revealing speedo- and his exact coordinates at the desert site. LOL. I stopped subscribing to his posts at that point. To each their own…

    Always good to have reassurance that others have an aversion of not joining the crowd, too.

  24. talynk says:

    There are many arguments about burning man being so important to self expression, liberation and the arts, all the while forgetting….all the author is doing is EXPRESSING herself and her opinions, quite publicly. An art form in itself, it is much more soul bearing in my opinion than what you are defending. I really respect Joslyn for stating her mind and being so open….no costume required.

  25. aQui says:

    I am so happy to read this. Not everyone should go to Burning Man. On this I can totally agree. But Joslyn you really don't get it, and can't get it unless you've been. It isn't about costumes or drugs. It's about being part of a community where you can put aside your preconceptions about who you are and about what is safe or unsafe.

  26. Midnight says:

    Why the need to publicly defend yourself for something you will never do? However, Sounds to me like burning man has already got a hold of you. You seem to be quite intrigued by it. Just a matter of time.

  27. Miranda says:

    Thank you for pointing out you can be creative, individual, and artistic and NOT go to Burning Man! I've lived in Santa Cruz for years and have watched the endless parade, both pre-and-post, of the wide eyed, blissed-out burning man crowds ensuring me that I'm missing out on something amazing. I simply inform them that I grew up in Arizona, where for lack of anything else to do in high school, I spent the better part of my teens sweating out hallucinogenic trips in the middle of the dessert creating, to my drug fueled mind, what looked like art. I've moved on.
    Furthermore, I find people who are truly content with what they're doing don't feel the need to ensure everyone else it's really cool and they should be doing it too. Reminds me of the Mormon missionaries, if it's so great, why are you worried if everyone else believes you?

  28. Camila says:

    I've been to BM twice. I don't consider myself a 'burner' and I don't feel like my decision to go there has any real marking on my identity. I travel to new places to experience and observe. Being in a new country and interacting with people who believe or behave differently than me does not make me any more or less like them. I hope those experiences make me a more empathetic person but my expectations are not much more.
    Burning Man hold very little resemblance to any music festival I have ever been to. I didn't wear anything glittery. I wore attire appropriate for wind storms. There is nothing quite like seeing a fleeting city in the middle of no where. It is amazingly vast and for the most part the noise is more like a distance drumming at your camp. I think the only reason one really needs to go to BM is curiosity. Being apprehensive is fine. Having low expectations, even better. It is a truly unique experience, and as others have mentioned, you can get what you want out of it. I do know a few people who were adamantly opposed to BM and had the time of their lives. I wouldn't recommend vowing to never go any more than I would recommend vowing to never go to Italy.

  29. Scott says:

    I'm ambivalent about Burning Man, although from all the photos I've seen and from everything I've heard from friends who go, I suspect that after a day and a half on the Playa I'd be bored out of my skull. But I guess the real reason I don't go is that I'd rather spend my precious vacation time traveling by myself around, say, Central America or Sub-Saharan Africa and experiencing something that's truly different from the white San Francisco culture I live in.

  30. mee says:

    you are soooo lame and clearly have no idea what burningman is about. that is all.

  31. [...] things you think you should like doing. So not, in my case, things like “practicing yoga” or “going to Burning Man” or “eating [...]

  32. Naacal says:

    this is just plain stupid

  33. lifeline says:

    Haha, absolutely love the quote about republicans at a rave and people doing drugs….

  34. Peter says:

    To start off your article about the fact that you like to try new things. And continue on about why you won’t go to BM is a complete contradiction. But to each their own.

  35. Jen says:

    My Reason # 2453: Because I can't stand the smell of pot.

  36. Matthew says:

    As a burner of 15 years I'm always fascinated by people who have such strong opinions of Burning Man even though they have never experienced it. The writer is certainly entitled to chose to not go to Burning Man, and certainly should not go for all the personal reasons she cites that she personally would not enjoy it. I honor her right to those belief systems and opinions regardless of how unfounded they are. She has made a judgement call for her life that works for her. However these viewpoints are so trivial that it's almost embarrassing to read it if she is really trying to make the case about the event itself and why other people shouldn't go or as means to disregard how significant the event really. Had she ever gone and decided that this was the experience she had then "perhaps" this article would be credible, but it is just utter non-sense. Quotes like this, “I’ve never been to Burning Man because it operates on a bartering system and most people want to barter drugs and I hate doing hard drugs in crowds with Port-O-Potties and no showers. And I hate people that are on drugs. And I hate Port-O-Potties. Even though I’m fine with no showers ” are a joke. I certainly hope none of the people quoted in this article, or the author ever go to the playa. If they did, they might feel really stupid for saying such idiotic things. I'm not trying to defend Burning Man by the way. It's certainly not perfect, I have my own issues with it (far more complex than this article) but it is an extraordinary event like no other in the history of man kind, and to disregard it the way the author has is absolutely ridiculous, and none of the authors points are even remotely relevant whatsoever. The transformation effects of Burning Man have been deeply profound for millions of people without indoctrinating anyone ever into any particular ideology at all. Don't drink the Kool Aid and go to Burning Man if you chose, no worries there, but know that it's not Kool Aid at all that you are choosing not to drink. Disregard it if you like, just know that you have no idea what you are disregarding, and your reasons for disregarding it don't matter or make any sense at all.

  37. Cam says:

    Hey Joslyn, I'm from the very liberal Berkshires too growing up nearby Alice's Restaurant, Toad Hall and Music Inn. And we had communal gardens in a household with little parental influence and extensive 60's/70's freedom. And like your friends, I think you'd get a total kick out of Burning Man. But your prejudgements and characterization of it are mostly incorrect. Other than alcohol at open bars, I was never offered drugs. I never smelled pot once. I only dressed in costume one night and had a total blast the whole time I was there, in costume or not. In general, I'm a dedicated introvert and had no problem finding my own space at BM. You can get turned off by the port-o-potties, sandstorms or the desert heat or you can see them as fortunate obstacles that keep people that prefer pampered experiences away. I found the artistic element at BM totally legitimate and moving and think it's absurd to judge that aspect of the event from afar. If you want an idea of Burning Man without attending, I suggest you watch the old classic movie, King of Hearts. Like the movie, friendly "lunatics" have escaped the asylum of "normal" life and taken over Black Rock City and for me, that is extremely refreshing. Mostly it's a wildly original group of folks that are fun to be around. Anyway, I suggest you funnel your critical energy into society's failings at large and not about an event you cannot possibly understand without attending. I sincerely hope that you give Burning Man a chance some day and then write an article about that.

  38. Dylan says:

    You are missing out and you will "NEVER" know why.

  39. nickolas K says:

    I felt exactly the same way until I finally went. Those hoping for salvation are expecting wayyy too much Maybe you'll find salvation but its not because of Burning Man but all the wild and interesting people from around the world that attend. Life is about people. So is the Burn… Or maybe you wont find salvation, but hell who does. But you WILL find its one of the most fun and diverse events youll ever attend. Hell, just the experience of the temple itself is worth going to Burning Man… the Temple is something youll not find anywhere else in the world, a modern day catharsis of our culture for our culture.

    The Burn Its basically a weeklong campout where everyone is friendly. Whats not to like.

  40. nickolas says:

    And actually, the barter system is frowned upon at BRC. no one barters … they give you stuff for free. all day long, all week long. facts facts facts !!

  41. CJJ says:

    Why I would never go to Disneyland (but I have never been).
    I heard that they have people dressed up as characters there and I don't even like giant mice.
    People are always saying how fun it is but I know it's not. I have always know this about all kinds of things.
    Rides are stupid and I know real rides when I see them. I have been to other theme parks so I must know what I'm talking about.
    This is how you sound. It is not for everyone. You don't have to go or like it. But be aware that you do not know what you are talking about. Like Guy Leisure said, "making magic out of nothing is hard". This is a world put up in the middle of the desert in a few weeks. 65,000+ people come from around the world. You don't have to go there…but don't pretend to know what it is like to actually be there.

  42. Melissa says:

    I don't like crowds, too and festivals and dust and heat and noise and "pretty people" walking around in shiny pants and furry boots … pretty much I don't like everything that Burning Man seems to be. But I went 4 years ago and loved it. I go every year with my family (husband and daughter). I volunteer as a crisis counselor for the Emergency Services Department and we stay in Kidsville with about 100 other families. I don't drink, do drugs, go to the noise camps and "party". I dress as I would anywhere else. My family and I get on our bikes and "art hop" – go from one art installation to the next. I love seeing my daughter interact with the art, climbing, touching, moving. We spend a lot of time in the temple, reading the notes that people have left, looking at the small shrines and crying because we are so moved. We have met people from all over the country and the world. Burning man doesn't have to be like all those YouTube videos.

  43. Nicole Weinberger says:

    Haha! Enjoyed this article. Completely agree. I get thirsty and hot just thinking about the crowds and dusty heat. I bet the art is fun and very creative, but the festival just doesn't excite me. And yes, I like art. No, I don't like sticky crowds on drugs.

  44. Diane says:

    I can’t help replying- because everything you describe about Burning Man is incredibly wrong. Your judgement of something you never attended is only what you perceive or “think” you know about BM. Because of that you really NEED to go to BM! Lol

  45. Megan says:

    The comment about it operating on a bartering system are FALSE, Burning Man is a gift economy. You give (and get) gifts without expecting anything in return or having to "trade" – it's all free. Except ice and coffee in center camp, but those proceeds go to a good cause. I definitely agree the Burning Man isn't for everyone, but I am certainly glad I got over my doubts about it and checked it out. Such an AMAZING community and some of the best experiences of my life have been because of this event.

  46. nevaknott says:

    The preciousness about it–well said. I'm against it because it's a drug-fest disguised as an art event.

  47. Jen says:

    this is hilarious; some of the comments posted here and the "reasons" why people will never go. most of the stuff is false, and so…sounds incredibly idiotic. if one has never been, and does not know the history, what actually goes on, where a lot of that money goes (it takes millions and millions to put it on), then one should not speak with such certainty. for example, "i don't go to burning man because it works on a bartering system." uh, no it doesn't. i find that very funny, that being said by someone who's never been. who really cares if you/one goes or doesn't. but to speak/comment with such judgement like it's correct?!? when really…it's just peoples ill informed opinion. well, just shut up. and not just about burning man, but most things. to the author…you don't like people? i get it. me either most of the time. especially ones that rattle off like they know what they are talking about when they don't. it's great to voice opinions…articles should be written about different opinions and perspectives on things , but when some then put forth their opinion like a fact… well, that's just incorrect. you don't want to go to something? fine! don't. i don't go to most sporting events…not my thing. but if i were sitting around talking about how i knew about going to…say, boxing matches (i saw rocky once!), and what's involved, when i actually really don't? then that would make me a jerk.

  48. Bounce says:

    The good thing is that burners won't judge you if you don't go. We respect others' choices and are pretty familiar with having ours judged adversely — yet smile and return to the playa anyway. The bad thing is that this author REALLY doesn't understand Burning Man. I feel like had she done her research, like any responsible writer should, and learned something about the Ten Principles, there might be more substance to this piece. I have never done a drug in my life, and *many* burners don't. I go for the large art, which I help to construct, and there is no showcase on earth for such pieces like the playa. Look, I don't care if you don't want to go — peace be with you, wherever you may find it — but writing a piece like this is kinda troll-like because it's rife with assumptions about something you cannot possibly understand. A piece by someone who has gone to Burning Man and hated it would be another thing, and I'm sure someone could find that person. But there are tens of thousand of people who have opted into this lifestyle FOR A REASON. And THAT is worth writing about … What say you, Elephant Journal?

  49. fancyvancy says:

    "Because I have an aversion to situations that masquerade as non-conformist when they are actually the norm." I can't agree more with this statement. Bravo. Yes.

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