It was around midnight on March 31 when I spotted an article about Burning Man on my Google News feed. It declared that the 2021 Burn would take place under a huge dome that could house 60,000 people, all of whom would be protected from the outside world and its lethal germs. This dome was made of a material that the Burning Man org had invented and patented, and which they were prepared to offer free-of-charge to other events because – well, because we’re good guys.
According to the article, “Burning Man’s Chief Science Officer Nicholas Riviera said. ‘Housing the festival inside a dome will ensure no dangerous particles can enter Burning Man and it will mean our family can congregate and celebrate life on this precious earth in peace and harmony, as the founders of the Burn intended.’”
That one made me scratch my head. I’ve spent some time at Burning Man headquarters in San Francisco and never heard of a Chief Science Officer. Then the article mentioned “Burning Man’s Head Of Innovation Christine Chapel”, another job and person I had no knowledge of. By that point, the clock had turned past midnight and my wife reminded me that it was April Fool’s Day and this article was probably an April Fool’s joke. By the time the article described how the smoke from the Man Burn would go out of the dome and only fresh air would come in, we were laughing out loud.
“Burning Man will take place beneath a ‘Truman Show-esque dome’ later this year.” — MixMag
Then came the best part. It seems that Google had secretly become Burning Man’s sponsor in 2019 and would pay for the dome. I started imagining Google logos all across the Playa, and the elimination of our “no commodification” principle. Larry Harvey must have been rolling over in his grave.
Anyway, the story seems to have disappeared from the news feed and was clearly a full-on April Fool’s joke, so there’s still no reason to believe that Burning Man 2021 is a certainty. My understanding at this point is that a decision will be made in May. Even with that possibility still extant, I’m personally not optimistic about going for reasons I’ve already stated here: age, underlying medical issues, the inability to hold Burning Man with social distancing in place (will we have to do “air hugs”?).
But I have to keep in mind the great value of Burning Man to people my age, and search for ways to keep such youth-inducing activities in my life. I don’t want to just shrivel up and grow old simply because there’s no Burning Man to give me a jolt every summer.
As I’ve noted before, there are some things about Burning Man that are specific to infusing my life with that youthful feeling: the diverse and mostly young crowd of people; the abundant creativity blossoming everywhere on the Playa; the erotic environment that helps remind me I’m still a living, vital human; and the constant state of joy among attendees. All these elements combine to have an effect on my spirit and my body that take years off my chronological age, and echo throughout the rest of the year. I want those feelings back. And that’s no joke.