The Burning Man

June 26, 2009

Extreme Self reliance, Extreme Creative self expression – That summarizes the spirit of The Burning Man.

Burning man is sort of a cultural extravaganza held for a week every year at the Black Rock city at the Black Rock desert somewhere in the state of Nevada, United States. The Black Rock city is a temporary inhabitants created in the middle of a desert where a large gathering of people come, stay for a week, live on very minimum resources, indulge their creative senses and go away after a week. There is no trace of inhabitants either before the event or after the event.

Extreme Self-reliance:

It is a desert. A group of people are going to live there for a week without shops, cell phones, concrete shelters etc. The only thing you can find selling there is ice and tea. They don’t encourage any kind of commerce there. There is not even a barter system. You are expected to take enough food, water, gas stoves, portable showers, tents, mattresses, cycles, medicines and every thing else that is required to sustain you for a week. But portable public toilets are provided, though. Mind you, this  is not an excursion spot – It is a desert with extreme temperatures – very hot (Up to 107 degree F) in the mornings and freezing temperatures in the evenings and nights. Combine that with occasional wind storms and heavy rainfall. If you forget to take something vital, you can only rely on your neighbours – and they need to gift it to you – no payment or exchanges are allowed! Even if you need to send a message to a friend who is somewhere in the city, you could write in a piece of paper, give it at the central camp and hope that he would collect that paper from there – how about that for Short Messaging Service 🙂 ? The most advanced electronic gadget allowed there is a AM/FM radio (as that might catch some signals) – you cannot even take a camera! They encourage you to bring cycles so that you can move around (no cars allowed for moving around), interact with other people (This other people count for last year was 40,000+!!). So, you basically occupy a camp site, set up a camp, live there for a week and take everything back (including the waste) so that there would not be any trace of human occupancy of that area for the rest of the year! You can burn your camp materials at the end of the event, but still need to take back the ashes.

Extreme Creative self expression:

Why exert yourselves to live in such daunting conditions away from the comforts of a posh city or a comfortable village, you may ask. There is a reason – the organizers and participants believe that your creative senses are kindled and you become more open minded and participative in such situations where you closely connect with nature in its raw form.

Art is expected to flourish with theme camps all around the place. You are expected to participate in some form and that should include the community as well. You can host an art camp, where you can paint and display your paintings and let others stroke a brush or two. You can create sand sculptures and teach others to create their own! Some one even made a 30 foot high wind mill all out of wood! You can create music (Speakers are allowed, but restricted to certain decibel levels) and let others dance and enjoy it. You can give a lecture on chaos theory and invite others to speak on the topic. You can even create a small golf course and play with others. Basically, it is about creative expression and collaboration. There are plays staged in the centre camp, where people could write, and act. There is absolutely no limitation to what you can create – If you cant create art, become one by dressing up like a tribal, or decorate your car to make it look like a forest. Or you could walk around, cycle around and even sleep around – if you love sleep :-).

Yes, at the end of the week, they do burn a giant structure of a man and people form circles around it to celebrate and realize the fact that they were no longer what they were. It is more of a self discovery, discovering your loved ones and connecting closely to nature, that attract thousands of people every year to this place. You can find more information about The Burning Man and the experience people had in their official website.

Nice concept, isn’t it?

Destination Infinity

You could visit the People, places and culture section of this blog for reading similar articles.


  1. […] News Sources wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptExtreme Self reliance, Extreme Creative self expression – That summarizes the spirit of The Burning Man. Burning man is sort of a cultural extravaganza held for a week every year at the Black Rock city at the Black Rock desert somewhere in the state of Nevada, United States. The Black Rock city is a temporary inhabitance created in the middle of a desert where a large gathering of people come, stay for a week, live on very minimum resources, indulge their creative senses and go away after a […]

  2. whoaa! I have never heard about this at all.
    That IS some radical self expression.

    • This is a lot of radical self expression. I did not write fully about the self expression – people do go crazy there too!

      Destination Infinity

  3. This was a very interesting read! I was not aware of this, sounds exciting.

    • I was also not aware of this till recently. I got to know through the book “The Google Story”. It seems Googles founders Sergy Brin and Larry Page are regular visitors to this event!

      Destination Infinity

  4. thats really a great information and for the people its a self realisation 🙂

    • That makes me think, in another perspective, how we people in the city are so far away from realizing ourselves!

      Destination Infinity

  5. I am not sure I will survive for a week without my laptop! 🙂
    This seems to be a very different experience though.

    • You can take your laptop… but no internet connection 🙂 Maybe you can experiment some fractal patterns in GIMP? Electronic creativity!! 🙂

      Destination Infinity

  6. something very different.. this ought to bring out creativity.(nothing else to do. ;-))and respect for all that we have…

    this is a nice concept..

    • I wanted to include this point of having nothing else to do,in the article but somehow forgot.

      Destination Infinity

  7. Good one . I came to know about the Burning Man through a TV show , Malcolm in the Middle , it sure looks like some crazy fun .

    • Some people go overly crazy in this place. I guess it is due to the frustration they have in their routine everyday life.

      Destination Infinity

  8. very interesting! never knew about it.

    • Yeah, I too came to know about it recently. I think it is a good experiment and a try.

      Destination Infinity

  9. altho at first glance it may seem like madness… there is a certain alluring power to the whole idea.
    away from the hub-bub of the city, technology, constantly ringing mobile phones, social networking, emails, faxes, laptops, televisions…. aah what bliss!

    sometimes u need to purposely put urself in the shoes of a caveman (or something similar) to regain touch with ur inner self. that may sound daft, but it’s not.
    just wish these ppl hadnt chosen a place in such terrible weather conditions. i guess it’s a test of survival as well.

    • That weather conditions were purposefully chosen it seems. That’s why they clearly say, it is not an excursion. It is surely a different experience.

      Destination Infinity

  10. Whoosh! How exciting! Something I would love to do! A week of solitude! heaven if you ask me! I would prolly take a lot of books and sloth around in bed unless am very very hungry!

    • That is a point. I am struggling to read books – I read maybe one in six months! This place would be a perfect opportunity to indulge in some thing like that.

      Destination Infinity

  11. Seems like one of those various spiritual camps people organise. Only names are different and the way they go about it. I am a little suspicious of these kind of camps.

    • Yes, there is reason to be suspicious – especially in the United States, when they charge $200+ for every participant and 40,000+ of them came last year. But when I looked at the website, there were more things written to dis-courage people from coming then luring them with some magical change. They say it is about encouraging creativity.

      Destination Infinity

  12. me too like Nita. and i dont know why they organize these really extravagant trips “to get close to the nature & connet with yourself”, there is really no need to do that, it s a waste of money and they create illusions about selfknowledge in the mind of people. i ‘d love to make a nice post abt that!

    • The getting close to nature and connecting with yourselves part was added by me after reading some of the experiences of people who have attended the event. Maybe they were just exaggerating, like me! But the organizers are very clear about the motive – Encouraging creativity to flourish and they create certain conditions to help it flourish. I agree with that basic idea. It is just an attempt. And do make a post because a lot of such self help/magical heal groups are doing silly things to swash money away from innocent people!

      Destination Infinity

  13. great site a very helpful informations.thamx

  14. That was an interesting read. We had not heard about this concept but now we know about it. Thanks to you.

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  15. Thanks for sharing this mate; never knew of anything like this.

    But I would to try this once. Its definitely going to be difficult considering the way Im addicted to my mobile and laptop. But it sure is going to be one hell of an experience 😀

    • That place is exactly for people like you…. 🙂

      Destination Infinity

  16. DI,
    Everything was fine. The previous post of yours and the lecture some 1 could give on Chaos theory shows the impact the theory has on you.

    • I think you are right, I am still in the hangover…. I need to blame you for all this – 🙂

      Destination Infinity

  17. Interesting but kinda weird…why would I go into the desert and do something like this? and you mentioned fees for this too…would it not be more challenging and useful to do it where we are….and 40,000 people …making windmills ….weird indeed

    • Weird, but they feel that creativity is triggered in those conditions which challenge you physically and mentally. A normal situation like living in a city with a routine life may not bring the best creative talents out of people, they need something different, something challenging and something which will take away their laptops and cellphones!! But if some one is able to be at their creative best while still being in the city life, then why not?

      Destination Infinity

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