Welcome to this week’s Reno News & Review.
Like many Northern Nevada locals, I have very mixed feelings about Burning Man. I first went to the arts festival in the desert back in 1996. I was a teenager smuggled into the party in the trunk of a friend’s car. (Gate security was more lax in those days.) I had a blast that year, and every other time I’ve gone. It can be the best party in the world, and from every year I’ve gone, I have at least one fond memory I’ll carry with me for the rest of my life.
On the other hand, I haven’t been back since 2009. In recent years, the event has started selling out—in more ways than one—but specifically in the sense that the tickets have sold out. The first year that I actually bought a ticket, 1997, it cost $65 and a no-stress jaunt down to Reno’s Melting Pot. Nowadays, obtaining a ticket usually costs more than $400 and involves complex who-you-know geometry.
Burning Man is now Yuppiepalooza. Most of the people I know who still go are lawyers. Many of the attendees are Silicon Valley tech executives. Salon recently ran a story about the gentrification of the festival, which included some of the raw numbers: “In 2006, 14 percent of surveyed Burners listed their 2005 personal income as ‘$100,000 or more.’ By 2016, that had risen to 27.4 percent. In the past four years, the census volunteers actually added a new personal income category, of $300,000+. The number of people at Burning Man who made over $300,000 steadily rose from 2013 to 2016, from 2.3 percent to 3.4 percent.”
The Reno Gazette-Journal ran a bizarre story about Google employees getting lobsters shipped from Maine. This is rich-person garbage.
The first principle of Burning Man is supposedly “radical inclusion.” Is that principle really compatible with a big dress-up party in a gated community too pricey for poor people?