The annual event now known as Burning Man began as a bonfire ritual on the summer solstice in 1986 when Larry Harvey, Jerry James, and a few friends met on Baker Beach in San Francisco and burned a 9-foot (2.7-meter) wooden man as well as a smaller wooden dog. Harvey has described his inspiration for burning these effigy figures as a spontaneous act of radical self-expression. The 2012 Burning Man Festival is August 27 to September 3.
In addition to the burning of the Man, the burning of a Temple has become an activity at the event. With the 2012 Temple comes the return of David Best. David planned the most detailed temple he's ever built. The Temple of Juno incorporates a large asian style central tower with three accessible floors, and central altar space, all sitting within a 150' x 150' walled courtyard lined with benches, accessed from four entrances. Intricately cut wooden panels and shapes covered the courtyard walls as well as the interior space and altars.
Burning Man is a week-long annual event held in the Black Rock Desert in northern Nevada, in the United States. The event begins on the last Monday in August, and ends on the first Monday in September, which coincides with the American Labor Day holiday. It takes its name from the ritual burning of a large wooden effigy on Saturday evening. The event is described by many participants as an experiment in community, art, radical self-expression, and radical self-reliance.
Burning Man is organized by Black Rock City, LLC. In 2010, 51,515 people attended Burning Man. 2011 attendance was capped at 50,000 participants and the event sold out on July 24. In April 2011, Larry Harvey announced that the organization had begun the process of transitioning management of the festival over to a new non-profit called the "Burning Man Project".
For 2012, due to the sellout of the event in 2011, the BMOrg opted for a complex multi-round, random selection system of ticket sales with a separate low income program. On January 27, BMOrg announced that the number of tickets requested in the Main Sale was around 120,000 vs the 40,000 that were available. In consequence a significant number of registrants would not be awarded tickets in the Main Sale. The Main Sale was originally planned to be followed by a secondary open sale of 10,000 tickets. However as the huge demand from the Main Sale left many veteran burners and theme camps without tickets, BMOrg opted for a "directed ticket distribution" instead, i.e. "manually redirect them to some of the vital groups and collaborations that make up Black Rock City" rather than an open sale.
Because of the variety of goals fostered by participatory attendees, known as "Burners," Burning Man does not have a single focus. Features of the event are subject to the participants and include community, artwork, absurdity, decommodification and revelry. Participation is encouraged.
The Burning Man event is governed by 10 principles, which are radical inclusion, gifting, decommodification, radical self-reliance, radical self-expression, communal effort, civic responsibility, leaving no trace, participation, and immediacy.
Radical inclusion - Anyone who can afford a ticket is gladly welcomed and there are no prerequisites to be part of Burning Man. All participants are expected to provide for their own basic needs and follow the minimal rules of the event.
Gifting - Instead of cash, event participants are encouraged to rely on a gift economy, a sort of potlatch. In the earliest days of the event, an underground barter economy also existed, in which burners exchanged "favors" with each other. While this was originally supported by the Burning Man organization, this is now largely discouraged. Instead, burners are encouraged to give gifts to one another unconditionally.
Decommodification - No cash transactions are permitted between attendees of the event, which is in accordance with the principles of Burning Man. Cash can be used for a select few charity, fuel and sanitation vendors.
Radical self-reliance - Because of the event's harsh environment and remote location, participants are expected to be responsible for their own subsistence. Since the LLC forbids any commerce, participants must be prepared and bring all their own supplies with the exception of the items stated in Decommodification.
Radical self-expression - Participants are encouraged to express themselves in a number of ways through various art forms and projects. The event is clothing-optional and public nudity is common, though not practiced by the majority.
The event is clothing-optional and public nudity is fairly common, though not necessarily practiced by the majority. Communal effort - Participants are encouraged to work with and help fellow participants. Civic responsibility - Participants are encouraged to assume responsibility and be part of a civil society in which federal, state and local laws are obeyed and communicate this to other participants.
"Leave No Trace" - Participants are committed to a "Leave No Trace" event. They strive to leave the area around them in better condition than before their arrival to ensure that their participation does not have a long-term impact on the environment. Participation - Burning Man is about participation. Immediacy - Participants are encouraged to become part of the event, to experience who and what is around them and to explore their inner selves and their relation to the event.