In the year 1986, The Burning Man festival started in San Francisco. It is an annual event. It moved to the Black Rock Desert of Nevada in 1990, and it continues today. This event takes place every year in the late August and early September. During the festival almost 50,000 artists, partiers, and eccentrics come to the desert. The desert remains empty rest of the year. During the festival, a temporary city is formed which is known as “The Playa”. AS the festival begins on a Saturday night, an 80-foot-tall anthropomorphic statue which is known as the “The Man” is set on fire.

There are several rules and regulation that everyone must abide although the Burning Man community is known for its anarchy attitude. They believe in self-sufficiency. There is no vending of any kind is allowed with few exceptions. The people bring their food and shelter. The people share the things with other people, but it is very much advisable for the travelers to know and research about the event before going there.  They should take their necessary things with them.

The community believes in the Principe of No trade policy, and therefore all the people clean the mess they create. In the last few years, the amount of thrash created was an alarming sign for the officials, and that is why they are maintaining zero-tolerance policy against those who do not clean up their mess. This is very much important to keep the event alive.

A small group of volunteers organizes the Burning Man. They are responsible for dealing with the locals and state and federal officials. They are also responsible for providing emergency medical care and media relations. There is one more principle which is very famous here is the No spectator principle. All the people who attend the event are expected to participate in art or any other things. They are not expected just to sit idle and watch. They can contribute to volunteering or just become freaks.  There are few people who people who take this to another level by competing with each other. The participants of this event are known as burners.

Burning-Man USA

The community encourages radical self-expression which is very much popular among the people. Nudity is popular here, and there are many participants who will cover their bodies with paint and colors. They believe in the principle of “Anything goes” that allows them to use their freedom which includes their personal choice and drugs.  Furthermore, out of respect for other participants and their individual choices, it would be very unusual for anyone attending the event to ever feel any pressure towards drug use whatsoever. Alcohol, however, is plentiful, and free bars exist throughout the city. Fundamental elements of the festival are the individual choice and personal freedom. Numerous art projects on the Playa have an element of danger; and the use of fire in art is quite common, as well as explosives or other dangerous substances. Many participants speak later of the life-changing nature of the Burning Man experience: that the experience of self-expression changes the way they look at the world.

The City itself is laid out in a circle – centering on the Man – about one and a half miles in diameter. The center of the circle is empty desert, punctuated by large art installations. Participants live on a series of 8-10 circular streets that ring the outer edge of the circle; about 20 radial streets cross these at various points. The inner 2-3 streets are reserved for registered theme camps: groups who build large structures and installations with a, particularly “interactive” point. Theme camps are open to the public for investigation and use; a typical theme camp has 20-50 members, but some grow to hundreds of campers. Some groups of theme camps agglomerate into villages, which usually share an overarching meta-theme.

The street names change each year, based on the theme of that year’s event. Some things are constant, though, in an unofficial way. The radial streets are usually labeled according to clock time (e.g., “10:00” or “4:30”), and spaced about every half-hour. A large circular village known as Center Camp is (almost always) located at 6:00 on the circle; most of the Burning Man organizations services are located here. Other villages are usually placed near 9:00 and 3:00. The innermost circular street – which looks out directly to the central desert area – is called The Esplanade; most of the bigger theme camps line this street. And, of course, The Man is always dead in the center of the City, a convenient landmark.

The Black Rock Desert is an extremely harsh environment. Temperatures are regularly over 100°F, with no natural shade, and almost zero percent humidity. Hundreds of Burning Man participants are treated for dehydration every year; all attendees should drink about 4 liters of water per day, one of which has added electrolytes. More important survival information is available in the Burning Man Survival Guide, a copy of which is given to each participant.


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Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City

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