Final Chapter – Burning Man
I had to keep Burning Man for the last post…I haven’t been YET but I must. I’ll try to summarize it as best as I can but as the organizers say themselves: “Trying to explain what Burning Man is to someone who has never been to the event is a bit like trying to explain what a particular color looks like to someone who is blind”
The event started as a bonfire ritual on the summer solstice in the 80s in San Francisco where a few people burned a giant wooden structure in the form of a man. Therefore Burning Man…From 1986 to 1994, it was a free gathering promoting arts mostly. In 1995 they began charging for the event and it went from 35$ (4000 participants) to $420 with 52000 participants (in 2012).
Burning Man is music festival yes, but as I’ve been explaining in other posts, this one is another clear example of how some of the most popular music festivals are branding themselves as an experience, a vacation, or a unique community. I hate to say branding ‘cause it sounds so fake but it is in some way, even if their roots, history and traditions are legitimate.
On the artist side, Burning Man is an amazing opportunity for artists to get exposure and grow their fan base. Mostly electronic music is played and it is a great opportunity for up-and-coming DJs to get heard. In fact Burning Man helped a couple DJs such as BassNectar to kickstart their career.
On the festival experience side, Burning Man nails it. The conditions are harsh but all the traditions, the people and the music create a unique experience for festival goers. Each and everyone attending Burning Man is encouraged to participate in the festival and has an important value in the community. Burning Man also developed a strong culture based on 10 core values: inclusion & respect of everyone, gifting, decommodification, radical self-reliance, radical self-expression, communal effort, civic responsibility, leaving no trace, participation, and immediacy. In fact, no cash transactions are permitted between attendees. Cash can only be used for a select few charity, fuel and sanitation vendors.
So to conclude, as I been describing in my posts, music festivals are now becoming more of an excuse to detach yourself from reality and join a fantastic, utopian world, based on different values and rules. But isn’t the main focus supposed to be on the artists? Are artists and music simply becoming an excuse to gather like-minded individuals and create communities? And even if it is the case, does it really matter?