Burningman ticket lottery debacle
So for those of you in the burner community you know that the great ticket lottery has now been completed. In the interest of full disclosure I did not participate and there were two good reasons for this. First, I have ultimate faith that I will be able to find a ticket as I have other years if I decide to make my annual journey into the dust. Second, I’m really not sure I’m Black Rock City bound this year due to some potential life changes on the horizon but as always that remains to be seen.
I saw all of the early JRS and other info blasts on the lottery and like many burners felt good about the idea that the new system would do its best to thwart ticket scalping, something that the burner community finds especially abhorrent. For the non-initiated, the ethos of the community is that if you sell your tickets, you sell them for face value and actual costs, no profiteering. My next real contact with the lottery came in the form of a very excited Facebook post from a couple of friends who had scored tickets in the lottery.
Then I started seeing a lot of tense posts from friends who hadn’t heard anything yet and were starting to get nervous about their possibilities. Then, finally, it started, the rejection notifications. To be frank I was absolutely stunned by the effect this had on people. My friends were devastated and as one friend told me, “I felt totally rejected by Burningman.” Now this may seem silly to those of you who have never attended this dusty little bacchanal in Nevada, but to burners it felt like a community they have dedicated so much too had rejected them. The Playa is a place where everyone feels accepted, as I’ve often said, at any point in Black Rock City look around, YOU, are never the biggest freak in your field of view and as odd as this may sound, that’s a comforting proposition for many of us who live our lives as square pegs in a very round world.
The rejection has really impacted people and I’m seeing a lot of comments that seem to indicate that people are reconsidering their relationship and commitment to the festival. Honestly, I think a lot of that is the initial bad feelings from not getting tickets and that will wane as things begin to work out on the ticket front. Burningman is an important part of many burners’ lives and although this hurts I don’t see a lot of burners packing it in over this issue, but the BMORG response will certainly impact this whenever that comes. I think the secondary ticket service will help as well, its acronym is STEP and hopefully it won’t also step on people’s feelings as well, sorry, couldn’t help myself.
The saddest thing for me about Burningman every year has been apparent in a lot of the posts on the ticket debacle. People on the Playa are some of the finest damn people you will ever meet, they create the most amazing art you will ever experience, Playa miracles happen with regularity, simply put, Black Rock City is a magical place. But as the annual Exodus occurs each year, these same amazing people hit the tarmac connection to civilization and begin to revert to the same patterns that drive us all nuts in the default world, selfishness, elitism, entitlement and little concern for their fellow-man. None of which I experience on the playa but suddenly there it is. Likewise, and this is not new to this year or this situation, when many burners get off playa and online they become unbearable, in particular there is this burnier than though attitude that is really grating.
It’s unfortunate that we can’t hang on to who we are on the Playa the rest of the year and even yes, when we can hide behind the curtains our computers have become. That’s my hope for this community tonight, that we grab a bit of the radical exceptionalism that we so constantly exhibit on the Playa and turn it to making this situation work. So let’s put on that fake fur, all of your glowy and sparkly accessories, fuzzy boots, shake some Playa dust out of your tent, throw it in your hair, turn up the heat all of the way, the fan on full blast and get to work solving this problem. Hell, getting tickets can’t be harder than going to a dusty lakebed in nowhere Nevada, and in one week erecting a magical city, impacting the lives of tens of thousands and then disappearing like a mirage.