Ticket Time

Critical dates for ticket purchases to Burning Man 2013 are around the corner.  Since it’s my hope that each 50 and over person who reads this blog will go at least once to Burning Man, I want to be sure you have the dates and required steps in front of you as we approach the first-come, first-served opportunities to get in the gate.

Step one is already available to you:  fill out the Burning Man profile.  You can do so by going to http://profiles.burningman.com/.

Judie having fun on the Playa.  Can't wait for Burning Man 2013.

Judie having fun on the Playa. Can’t wait for Burning Man 2013.

Here’s more about the profile from my official Burning Man sources:

“Initially, the Burner Profile will be used as part of the pre-registration
process for ticket sales to Burning Man 2013. To create your profile and pre-register for access to ticket sales, the only information you’re
*required* to provide is your first name, last name, email address, mailing address and birthdate. That’s it … the same info required whenever you buy Burning Man tickets.

“Eventually we’ll be expanding the use of this new platform to offer
additional features. So, the more information you put into your profile,
the more value you’ll get out of it. Those of you involved with creating
(and registering) projects for Burning Man are quite familiar with the
wealth of information we collect year after year in order to process your registrations, and we want to make that whole process easier for YOU and for US by leveraging information stored in your Burner Profile.

“And in the glorious vision of our future, we believe Burner Profiles will help facilitate communications around on-playa and off-playa volunteer activities, give us the ability to provide targeted communications that are pertinent to you, and offer single-sign on account management to access all of the Burning Man information systems that you work with.”

Some people have expressed alarm at Burning Man’s attempt to collect data about its attendees.  I’m completely sanguine about this – I provide far more data to retailers such as Amazon who have no personal interest in me other than money, because I’ve found it makes my shopping experience better, quicker and even more rewarding.  Since Burning Man sells only tickets, it doesn’t seem likely that the organization would use the profiles for nefarious purposes. However, it will definitely help them understand the appeal of the Festival to different audiences and make adjustments as necessary to broaden (or narrow) that appeal.  Burning Man states that it will not share this information or use it for purposes outside of ticket sales and Festival planning.

If you have more questions about Burner Profiles, please check in at the FAQ on this topic, http://profiles.burningman.com/faq/.

Moving on to the next critical dates for ticket sales – pre-registration.  You must pre-register in order to be eligible to purchase a ticket online.  Pre-registration will begin at noon on Wednesday, February 6 and end at noon on Sunday, February 10.  Ticket sales will begin at noon on Wednesday, February 13 and end when the 40,000 available tickets are sold.  As noted in an earlier post, all tickets will be sold for $380 per person.

Detailed information about ticketing is available at http://tickets.burningman.com/.  This site will also provide a link to the pre-registration page when it becomes available next month.

I’ve marked all these dates on my online calendar so I can be johnny-on-the-spot when it comes time to register and buy my tickets.  I hope you’ll do the same.

See you on the Playa.

Burning Man is Waiting For You – So Go, Already!

I talk frequently with people around my age (I’m approaching 70 at a rather alarming rate) about going to Burning Man, and they often say things like “I have always intended to go, and maybe this year will be the year.”  But it’s rare that any of those people actually make the trek to the Playa in late August.  To me, that’s kind of like saying how sorry you were that you never made it to Woodstock back in 1969.

The Burning Man Festival is a unique event, and even though it’s not a one-time occurrence such as Woodstock, it is equally iconic. Because it’s repeated yearly, there are annual opportunities to make up for lost time by choosing to go to Burning Man.

Entering Center Camp, 2010

Entering Center Camp, 2010

Burning Man’s nature as a continuing and evolving event means that each year provides its own set of individual experiences; but you only have to go once to “get” it.  There’s no need to commit to being a “Burner for Life” as one of our gifted scarves says.  You don’t even have to go for the entire seven days (although I highly recommend it).  A substantial percentage of attendees are newbies who arrive for just the final three or four days and may not return for years, if at all.  However you choose to go – in common parlance —  “it’s all good.”

But there’s no other way to experience what I like to call “the world turned on its head” for one full week in the desert; to come face-to-face with a level of diversity that you’re unlikely to find in your everyday life; and to let go of society’s preconceptions about race, gender and sexuality, except by going.

Will you be changed forever by attending?  Possibly.  Probably.  But you won’t be changed in the least by saying you want to go without following through.

So call it a bucket list item, something needed to complete your set of human experiences, or an opportunity you simply don’t want to miss.  Or consider it a way to make up for skipping Woodstock, or another big event you regret missing.  On the other hand, if you went to Woodstock or one of its lesser offspring and are seeking a repeat performance (albeit a different kind of encounter), then Burning Man is a festival you won’t want to skip.

So just take yourself seriously about your desire to go to Burning Man.  Tickets will be on sale soon (see my last post).  Calendar in the date; register to buy your tickets; and I’ll see you on the Playa.

Ticketing: The Lottery is Dead; Ticket Prices Are Set

The Burning Man organization has announced yet another ticketing scheme for 2013, which in my view is a good thing because last year’s lottery system was somewhere between highly problematical and disastrous.  How much worse could things get?  The downside of the new approach is cost – many of us who had previously scored lower priced tickets will have to spend more.  For me personally, the new system will cost $90 more per ticket this year than last.

That’s because BM headquarters in San Francisco has decided that there will be one price for all tickets under almost all circumstances.  The only exception is 4,000 low-income tickets at $190.  (Registration for low-income tickets is on right now.  See the ticketing link below for more information). The fixed price for all other tickets is $380.  This one-price-fits-all system has the virtue of equality. Early purchasers used to receive a discount based on the timing of their purchase.  When combined with last year’s lottery, the result of tiered pricing was a plethora of sales to people who, in the end, didn’t go to the Burn.

One effect of the lottery was to squeeze out many of the mainstay Burners who play important roles in making the event what it is.  Although most of them were able to get tickets later on as hoarded tickets were re-sold via the official Burning Man program (called STEP), on Craigslist or eBay, or just via word-of-mouth, many tickets actually went to waste.  In fact, there was a glut of Burning Man tickets on the market by the time the festival occurred – many of which couldn’t even be given away.

To help ensure that core attendees can make it in 2013, according to the Jack Rabbit Speaks (the official Burning Man e-zine), a tier of 10,000 tickets will be sold via direct distribution to some of the major camps that are foundational to Burning Man.  Unfortunately, I’ve also received a conflicting report from the Greeters that this direct distribution will NOT take place – so I’m not totally certain what will happen there. I also don’t know which groups would be included in the direct distribution should it occur.  For most of us, tickets will become available for purchase beginning February 13, with required pre-registration set to begin Wednesday, February 6 at noon and end Sunday, February 10 at noon.

By holding to a single price but selling tickets without using a lottery system, Burning Man hopes it has created a fairer and more equitable system, albeit a more expensive one for some of us.  How it all works out is something we’ll soon find out.

Here’s the URL for ticket information and for pre-registration once it begins:  http://tickets.burningman.com.  Other handy ticket info is as follows:

Ticketing FAQ (http://tickets2.burningman.com/faq.php) and new online ticketing forum (http://ticketsupport.burningman.com/).

Here’s hoping we all get the tickets we want and can afford, and that everyone makes it to the Playa this August 26 thru September 2.

Don’t Go To Burning Man, if …

Nearly 60,000 tickets will be sold to the 2013 Burning Man Festival, and as large a community as that represents, it’s still a tiny minority of the planet’s population.  The fact is, most people will never choose to spend a hot, dusty week in Black Rock City.  And, for many of them, it’s the right option.

The desert is a harsh environment.  For people with breathing problems, the dust alone is reason enough to think twice about attending.  Even a clear day in the Black Rock Desert is filled with minute dust particles. (Actually, the “dust” is made up of highly alkaline gypsum chips).  You can see them in many flash photographs taken on what otherwise appears to be a clear night (see the example below).  On top of the dust problem, there’s also the altitude.  The Black Rock Desert is about 4,000 feet above sea level, which could exacerbate breathing problems if you’re not accustomed to the somewhat rarefied air.

Flash photo shows dust in the air on an otherwise clear night.

Flash photo shows dust in the air on an otherwise clear night.

There are people with asthma who attend Burning Man, but it’s perfectly understandable why some asthma sufferers might choose to avoid it.  While the Burning Man website indicates that, with adequate preparation, asthmatics can do fine at the festival, it also advises:

“…if you have a history of complications with asthma, especially if they have resulted in hospitalization and/or intubation, please talk to your doctor before deciding to come to the playa.”

Breathing difficulties is one of the most common ailments requiring treatment at Burning Man’s medical facilities.  That’s what makes gear like dust masks so critical to your comfort.

Another common medical problem on the playa is eye irritation.  The best preventative is a good pair of goggles; but if you suffer from persistently dry eyes, you’ll want to bring plenty of eye lubricants or artificial tears. The medical facilities are kept busy irrigating dry and irritated eyes throughout the week.

There’s also the weather itself and its potential to affect your health.  A couple of years ago, the air turned quite chilly.  A person in the camp next to us didn’t have adequate warm clothing and suffered a serious case of hypothermia.  The obvious solution is to pack the right clothes – always keeping in mind that nights can be quite cold on the playa while days are usually very hot.

Far and away, the highest percentage of medical problems treated at Burning Man are minor cuts and scrapes – nothing that might not happen to you away from the playa.  But the desert has its own unique physical challenges.  Preparation is the critical ingredient for withstanding the vagaries of the Black Rock Desert and assuring yourself a great Burn.


The Politics of Burning Man

You often hear Burning Man described as a “Hippie” event, with its implication of 1960s political activism, scruffy appearances, drugs and rock and roll.  To one degree or another, this entire list of descriptors is at least somewhat true about Burning Man, but it’s neither universally true nor what it appears to be.  Burning Man is not Woodstock, or any other music festival.  It’s primarily a community, and its main raison d’etre is art, not music.

As far as politics go, there’s very little true political activism at Burning Man, and there are Burners of all political persuasions.  Many Burners are classic American rugged individualists who have their own businesses, believe in capitalism, tend toward conservatism and hold deep convictions about Second Amendment gun rights.  But it’s hard to tell about anyone’s political persuasion out on the Playa.  Sure, there are pieces of art with political points of view, but there’s little – if any – of the kind of polarized political discourse that marks the climate found in the default (non Burning Man) world.

Lashes (aka Judie) setting up our campsite on Day One

There is no more welcoming environment I’ve ever found than that of Burning Man, and it simply doesn’t matter what your persuasions may be – political, sexual, aesthetic or otherwise.  But that doesn’t make the festival a hippie event.  Sure, we’re all scruffy out there (who wouldn’t be after seven days in Black Rock City’s dusty desert environment), and there are unquestionably people who imbibe in drugs and drinking on the Playa.  At the same time, there are families with small children at Burning Man, and they care about their kids the way anyone else would.

If there is a political persuasion at the Burn, it’s probably libertarianism – a kind of live and let live attitude toward personal choice.  Of course, as with all communities, we have an effect on each other.  When some people choose to go naked, the rest of us see that.  So the warning I always give people is to be prepared for the unusual and for some aspects of day-to-day living that would be extraordinary if not illegal in the default world.  If you are easily offended, you’ll probably get offended at one point or another while at Burning Man.  But if you’re a conservative, liberal or anything in-between, you’ll be relieved to find yourself in a true “no-spin zone” where political discussion is rare and we all love each othe for our humanity and do so unconditionally.

So please don’t call us hippies.  Just come to Burning Man and be whoever you are, or whoever you want to be.