Why Burning Man is significant funologically

Chuck pushed me towards a cool person who has never been to Burning Man.  She has done other festivals of autonomous and DIY nature, so some of the core concepts are familiar.  But there is something both special and important about Burning Man and i am going to try to capture it thru a funological lens here.

moves like a spider

Burning Man has high capacity to change participants lives.  There are a combination of social experiences, culture experiences, musical and drug induced experiences that creates plenty of invitations to do things very differently than you did in your mainstream live.  These are occasionally memorably fun and often unique.  If your mainstream malady is boredom, there are lots of different ways BM can shake you up.    If you are looking for something wild and new to add to your life, BM offers a smorgasbord of possibilities.

Size matters 50K plus participants

Size Matters:  I have been to a number of small and middle size events (including most recently Transformus), these are wonderful and often homey. But there is something fantastic about the array of events and displays on BM esplanade – the scale is grander and the possibilities it invites feel amplified.  BM is a big budget affair.  There are legitimate critiques the waste associated with making this event happen.  And it does happen and it happens in a majestic and dizzying way.

At the start of a dust storm

Safe loss of control   One of the most powerful BM experience is the white out.  You are occasionally, unpredictably in the circumstance that you are stopped from doing what you thought what you were doing by freak sandstorms of indeterminate length.  Sometimes these are so bad you are forced to take shelter with people you dont know, in their RV or secure theme camp.   This type of chaotic random loss of control is both liberating and challenging.  White outs commonly create random forced encounters between previously unknown burners. [i spent 2 hours with an 80 year old retired insurance exec who had been brought by his some, we had a wonderful rambling conversation which certainly seemed shake up some of his thinking a bit.] While the sand storm can strip you of control, it is mostly safe to experience, this is a rare and funologically significant combination.

Think in a different scale

Burning Man is an Ordeal.    You both participate in it and you survive it.  Almost everyone has a lost of stranded story.  Just getting in and out can be an ordeal.  Because of the harsh environment machines break and then their can be heroic efforts to fix or substitute services.  You have to think about what you want to bring and it is this eclectic mix of camping necessities and party frivolity.  And in a way the mix of what you bring (including the theme camp you might join) does a lot to frame and shape your experience.

The Infrastructure is massive and robust.  50,000 tickets at $300 each is a chuck of change.  Millions are spent on art and porta-potties and a usurious land rental from the BLM.   The 37 paid Burning Man Inc staff are supplemented by literally thousands of volunteers at many different levels of commitment.  An integral part of the Burning Man experience is delivering the internal mail or working some wild theme camp both like the human carcass wash or working as a greeter.

It does not make sense to hassle with all the time and costs if what you are looking for is an all night techno music party (which there certainly is at Burning Man) because there are far more accessible places for this.  And if you are looking for something magical, inexplicable and rare, then BM might just be the right place for you to spend Labor Day.

I am not going this year, i think i am going to do a monday workshop add onto the communities conference about starting a new FEC community close to Twin Oaks.