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Burning Down Burning Man
February 2, 2012 10:54 PM   Subscribe

Burning Man sold out for the first time in its history last year, marking another painful evolutionary event and, in the process, attracting scammers and scalpers who violated the dearly-held Burner tradition of selling tickets for no greater than face value. In an effort to thwart scammers and scalpers this year, The Burning Man Project replaced the event's long-standing first-come-first-served web-based ticketing system with a controversial new lottery system to distribute the first 43,000 tickets at random. Prior to ticket registration, the system required entrants to fill out the Burning Man 2012 Tickets Main Sale Participant Survey, which asked, among other things, how many years the respondent had attended Burning Man. "(Don't worry, your answers will in NO WAY affect your likelihood of receiving tickets.)" When stalwart mega-camps like Deathguild, Disorient and Opulent Temple came to realize that a disproportionately small number of their members were awarded tickets, one Burner smelled a rat and created an informal survey to test his hypothesis that the survey did indeed affect one's likelihood of receiving tickets. His survey is beginning to show an inversely proportional relationship between those who have previously attended the event and those who were awarded tickets. This, combined with the description of this year's theme, Fertility 2.0, is leading some Burners to wonder whether these are indications that Larry Harvey has tipped his hat to his most insidious prank yet: "killing off" Burning Man's faithful and its intelligentsia, like the love child of Jim Jones and Joseph Stalin, to make room for an all-new Burning Man populated by wide-eyed Virgins.

From this year's theme: Black Rock City is a kind of Petri dish. Theme camps cling in fertile clusters to its latticework of streets, artworks tumble out of it, like pollen on the air. These nodes of interaction mutate, grow and reproduce their kind. Burning Man communities have now escaped this capsule world: our culture in a Petri dish has effloresced - it spreads across five continents. This year's art theme contemplates the tendency of any being or living system to create abundant life.
posted by eatyourlunch (111 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
I never attended Burning Man way back before everyone else started not having done it.
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:07 PM on February 2, 2012 [42 favorites]


LOL.

But obviously there are methodological problems with an informal internet poll like this. Who's most likely to be googling around for info or reading blogs on burning man and burning man tickets? People who just got them for the first time, and people who didn't get them.
posted by delmoi at 11:08 PM on February 2, 2012 [5 favorites]


"killing off" Burning Man's faithful and its intelligentsia, like the love child of Jim Jones and Joseph Stalin, to make room for an all-new Burning Man populated by wide-eyed Virgins.

The way in which you have assembled these nouns in something faintly resembling a meaningful utterance is something like, to coin a phrase, "killing off" the love child of Jim Jones and Joseph Stalin.
posted by joe lisboa at 11:09 PM on February 2, 2012 [6 favorites]


Can't they just lie on the survey?
posted by Dick Laurent is Dead at 11:10 PM on February 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


Nobody goes there anymore, it's too crowded.
posted by chavenet at 11:12 PM on February 2, 2012 [10 favorites]


This, combined with the description of this year's theme, Fertility 2.0, is leading some Burners to wonder whether these are indications that Larry Harvey has tipped his hat to his most insidious prank yet: "killing off" Burning Man's faithful and its intelligentsia, like the love child of Jim Jones and Joseph Stalin, to make room for an all-new Burning Man populated by wide-eyed Virgins.

This is funny.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:13 PM on February 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


His survey is beginning to show an inversely proportional relationship between those who have previously attended the event and those who were awarded tickets.

Responses as of 1:15pm February 2nd, 2012
Previous attendees: 67.5% rejected.
Burning Man Virgins: 63.6% rejected.
Given the highly biased sample of convenience (85% previous attendees, and delmoi makes a good point), I'm going to need to see a lot more evidence than a 4% difference in rejection rate to show an inversely proportional relationship.

Hell, because I'm shit at statistics, I just wrote a program to do 10K simulations where both groups (of the same size as the sample) had the identical 66.931% chance of being rejected; about 27% of the time, there was a larger difference than the one here; the 95th percentile difference was a little over 7%.

So no, it's not showing a relationship.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 11:14 PM on February 2, 2012 [52 favorites]


I have a vision of schism. Every great idea has its alternate born in frustration with the founder. A new leader walks out of the playa and leads his people to the new land of man.
posted by stbalbach at 11:14 PM on February 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm searching the links for talk of the grand conspirecy of "'killing off' Burning Man's faithful and its intelligentsia" but I'm coming up blank. I don't doubt "burners" think this. And it very might well be happening. But can't you at least link to the controversy?
posted by m@f at 11:16 PM on February 2, 2012


This is funny.

Not intentionally.
posted by joe lisboa at 11:16 PM on February 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Some hippies have a conspiracy theory about the man?

That's never happened before.
posted by ethansr at 11:17 PM on February 2, 2012 [10 favorites]


Sweet fuck have people been up in arms about this since it was announced. I think it was a somewhat reasonable idea that turned out pretty terribly, but I think leaving it the same would've been a mess too. Maybe less of a mess, but I'm not going to be upset about them trying.

I've been eight of the past ten years, and didn't get tickets in the lottery. But I then got the extras from a couple of other long timers.

One thing I keep hearing is that they should have gone to a non-transferrable system. The issue I see with that is just that unless it's COMPLETELY non-transferrable, you have a big fake ticket problem, which is going to be very difficult to deal with at the gate. (Which I don't have any inside info on, but I volunteered there for a few shifts last year) It backs up pretty badly as it is, and if it backs up more than it does it's a reason to have the permit pulled by the BLM. The gate is also a pretty near constant white out - the non-stop vehicle traffic never stops kicking up dust. Will call, gift, and staff tickets, are handled in a separate area, but there's no way you could send everyone though that at any sort of clip.

A big difference between burning man and other festivals is that EVERYONE HAS A CAR. You're not checking people, you're checking vehicles full of people. It's not the same. It's not even close.
posted by flaterik at 11:18 PM on February 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


Will no one think of the CEOs? Where else are they going to do coke and bang some steampunk chick?
posted by Artw at 11:21 PM on February 2, 2012 [7 favorites]


Pull back the camera a little bit. Seems to me that two tickets at random is going to hobble/kill a fair number of larger groups and larger groups are almost always going to be comprised of veterans.
posted by user92371 at 11:21 PM on February 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


This is also the first time I'm hearing THIS particular theory. Lots of people think the BORG was being incompetent and stupid, but not scheming. A lot of people who have been many times think they should have gotten better than random treatment, though.

FWIW, I don't think I deserved anything better than random, and I think the best way to solve the commodification of tickets is for people to refuse to pay more than face value. Sadly, people are stupid.
posted by flaterik at 11:21 PM on February 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Where else are they going to do coke and bang some steampunk chick?

Comic-con?
posted by phaedon at 11:22 PM on February 2, 2012 [16 favorites]


"killing off" Burning Man's faithful and its intelligentsia, like the love child of Jim Jones and Joseph Stalin, to make room for an all-new Burning Man populated by wide-eyed Virgins."

Because Burning Man has never been about new experiences or open minds, absolutely not. It's raison d'être has always been to ensure the survival of an oligarchy, enshrouded in castles of desert glitter and robots on fire.

Keep out the new, whatever you do. We've already dreamed everything anyway.

Four Panels
Burning Man '96
posted by four panels at 11:22 PM on February 2, 2012 [8 favorites]


Artw, your stereotypes are about 15 degrees off.

"Ketamine" and "tribal" would better serve you as adjectives.
posted by flaterik at 11:22 PM on February 2, 2012 [5 favorites]


"This, combined with the description of this year's theme, Fertility 2.0, is leading some Burners to wonder whether these are indications that Larry Harvey has, like the love child of Jim Jones and Joseph Stalin, "killing off" Burning Man's faithful and its intelligentsia, to make room for an all-new Burning Man populated by wide-eyed Virgins... his most insidious prank yet" was my second choice, but then I wouldn't have gotten the hat link in there.
posted by eatyourlunch at 11:23 PM on February 2, 2012


Sweet fuckballs, four panels, are you trying to do a parody of burner ridiculousness, or was that sincere?
posted by flaterik at 11:26 PM on February 2, 2012 [4 favorites]


but then I wouldn't have gotten the hat link in there.

That's what Stalin said?
posted by joe lisboa at 11:26 PM on February 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


So, at some point Burning Man just becomes a mirror image of the Indy 500 but without the race, right?
posted by The World Famous at 11:27 PM on February 2, 2012 [5 favorites]


"is" not "has." I'll go back to waiting for the STEP site now.
posted by eatyourlunch at 11:27 PM on February 2, 2012


So very glad I decided even before the original lottery that I'm not going this year. Sad for my campmates and other friends who would like to go but don't want to deal with the mess.

One friend did have a decent idea (with some possible serious issues): sell tickets only at the gate. first 50k people in are the only people who get in.

There are a large number of weekender attendees, many of whom show up late in the week only to party and enjoy what other people have created, as opposed to doing the creating themselves. I'm not actually sure there are 50k people who can take enough vacation time to show up by, say, Wednesday.

Of course if you did try to do this processing would take forever and there'd be all sorts of problems and maybe there'd be obnoxious asshats who'd throw a fit once tickets were done. But it's an interesting idea, anyhow.
posted by nat at 11:29 PM on February 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


One friend did have a decent idea (with some possible serious issues): sell tickets only at the gate. first 50k people in are the only people who get in.

Jeebus. Why not just dispense with the gate and let folks run in Oklahoma Land Rush style?
posted by m@f at 11:39 PM on February 2, 2012 [7 favorites]


What's a Burning Man?
posted by alpinist at 11:47 PM on February 2, 2012


And can it be treated with penicillan?
posted by happyroach at 11:51 PM on February 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


A burning man is someone you've kept warm for the rest of their lives, instead of being stingy and only keeping them warm for a night.
posted by flaterik at 11:53 PM on February 2, 2012 [12 favorites]


That's what Stalin said?


I think i see the start of a new meme. ;)

On the subject, something i've always wondered, is why don't people of different areas do their own "burning man"? I know they wouldn't be as big, or as possibly focused, but it seems more in line with the origin of it all. Seems to me having smaller ones all over the country (or world) would be more inspiring and worthwhile. Also it would remove the stupid corporate rules (have you seen the photography rules?) and put it back in the participants hands.
posted by usagizero at 11:56 PM on February 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


usagizero: well, there are Regional Burns, and there are a few other events that are similar but not directly related of varying levels of success.

However, there really is something special about the atmosphere at Burning Man, and as far as I know no regional group has successfully exported it. Perhaps something "similar but different" will rise up that will be able to take Burning Man's place for some of the people who enjoy the unique environment BM provides, but it won't work for everyone.
posted by anateus at 12:00 AM on February 3, 2012


they do all that usagizero - 'regionals' are what they call them

and yikes, I said for the past few years that I wanted to go in 2012 and then call it quits/take a long hiatus, but the mess of a ticketing system I read of turned me off the idea. kind of glad now.

I vote Oklahoma Land Rush as well.
posted by mannequito at 12:02 AM on February 3, 2012


beginning to show an inversely proportional relationship

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Anyways, after plugging the figures from the pdf into a chi-square test, I am unable to reject the null hypothesis that both newbies and veterans are being treated the same in the lottery.
posted by mhum at 12:02 AM on February 3, 2012 [9 favorites]


It's pretty hard to find a place to do something anything like the scale of black rock city. That said, I would participate the hell out of a regional that wasn't that... but being in LA, the playa pretty much is our regional.
posted by flaterik at 12:02 AM on February 3, 2012


It's time to acknowledge that Burning Man is a tourist attraction that draws families and grandparents. But the Burning Man people can't accept that.

This year I'm starting the first annual Lukewarm Man Festival, to be held in a convention center in a major city. It's going to be a "crazy free-for-all" for everybody, ending at 8 PM, so we can all go to bed. There will be zany costumes and oddball exhibits, carefully managed, with the hope that we can all appreciate the wonder of life with a mortgage. It's going to get wild, running the gamut from A to B. The whole event culminates in the attempted burning of a huge effigy, though fire marshals will step in at the last minute and make us all go home.

The first 100 visitors will get a free bobblehead doll.
posted by twoleftfeet at 12:06 AM on February 3, 2012 [18 favorites]


Good lord, I never knew you needed a ticket.
posted by Clave at 12:16 AM on February 3, 2012 [5 favorites]


Clave, they are required by people with badges and guns to limit the size, and you can't do that very well without tickets. Most of the income from it goes to the permits, and art grants.
posted by flaterik at 12:19 AM on February 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


It just takes some of the weird off is all.
posted by Clave at 12:37 AM on February 3, 2012


Stupid reality interfering with the surreal
posted by flaterik at 12:39 AM on February 3, 2012


required by people with badges and guns to limit the size

Ahh. I was wondering how it could sell-out considering the size of the Black Rock Desert.
posted by panaceanot at 12:41 AM on February 3, 2012


twoleftfeet, I was thinking of doing a Tepid Man festival for flakes, procrastinators and people who reply 'maybe' on facebook.
posted by Kerasia at 12:48 AM on February 3, 2012 [4 favorites]


Yeah, when you go there during any other time of the year the insane size is really noticeable. I think when we gathered with some people last year, my GPS told me it was 13 miles from the point we hit the lake bed until the coordinates we were meeting at.
posted by flaterik at 12:49 AM on February 3, 2012


FWIW, I don't think I deserved anything better than random, and I think the best way to solve the commodification of tickets is for people to refuse to pay more than face value. Sadly, people are stupid.
Well, in any event you're going to have a 'market rate'. If they just auction off tickets, only rich people could go.
"Ketamine" and "tribal" would better serve you as adjectives.
Steampunk is way funnier, though. Also, they're CEOs. Ketamine is for the proletariat. Everyone knows cocaine is the breakfast of champions.
posted by delmoi at 12:59 AM on February 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, one of those two is more expensive, and it's not cocaine.

I think they were doing their best to make tickets available to more people more fairly. Hopefully it works out that way.
posted by flaterik at 1:01 AM on February 3, 2012


I was wondering how this would pan out for BM. It's a very difficult thing, curating communities -- especially those as large and psuedo-anarchistic as BM. And I don't know the answer to the problem, however it seems to be something we are going to have to increasingly deal with in the future. There certainly must be an interaction with the growing world population, and accessibility of events due to the internet facilitating awareness, and the (relatively) low cost of travel to distant locations.

This was not the only large-scale event lottery system to cause an uproar this year. Similarly, the London Olympics ticketing lottery famously ruffled quite a few feathers last year. Yet, there was no option, with two million people making twenty million bids for six million total event tickets. And no doubt demand for those ticket was irregularly distributed, with some events being massively oversubscribed.

Two notable results from the public reaction to the Olympic ticketing scheme: 1) There was no option that could have produced as fair a result as the lottery. 2) The results produced by the lottery have not been seen as 'fair' by the large majority of people involved, either those that won tickets or not.

These lotteries violate fundamental market principles of supply-and-demand, and pricing. One could ask why BM did not simply raise ticket prices -- or at least, increase the ticket price spread. In informal conversations, burners said raising prices was a bad option because it monetizes the event in a way that attacks its authenticity. "The people that could afford to pay $1000 to be at Burning Man are not the kind of people we want at Burning Man."

Ok, so if price discrimination is not going to work, what is an alternative system? The lottery, whilst technically not fair, is more fair than many other options. Which was also the point of the Olympic committee. With lotteries, one can both manage the total number of people attending an event whilst having the event remain accessible to the largest possible audience.

That's what it looks like Burning Man is trying to do. The 'statistics' are barely worth looking at, for as has been mentioned here, the difference between groups may very well be sampling error. Further, self-reported surveys given to passionate communities are rarely useful. 8 out of 10 Apple users think Steve Jobs was the most popular innovator in history, for example.

Thus, if we assume Burning Man went into this exercise with the best of intentions to manage crowd-size, whilst preserving the accessibility of the event, perhaps this was the best option available to them at the moment.

As mentioned, it's very difficult to curate large communities. In choosing the lottery, Burning Man instantly becomes that which it is seeking to escape. Originally, the ticket prices were used to manage the community, to ensure that those going are invested in the experience to the tune of a few hundred dollars -- weeding out those that would just go because everyone else is going. Not that some people won't pay hundreds of dollars to be Excellent Followers, but it was an adequate gate.

The community seemed to be able to understand that -- and if not understand, at least accepted it. This is a completely different situation -- as Burning Man moves from being an alternative to the structured experience of daily life, to being another structured experience of daily life.

If they can do this and not significantly impact the spirit of the community -- and thus the event itself -- I will be very impressed. And I don't doubt there is that possibility. However, it is moving the conversation from "all of us who bought tickets and are here to celebrate" to "them" (who hosted the lottery), "us" (who got tickets), and "them" (who did not get tickets). This has the potential to destroy the backbone of the Burning Man ethos, turning it fully into the commercialised non-commercial event many already criticise it for becoming.

It's very difficult to layer management on top of passionate individuals working to execute something -- hence the massive issue with trying to get corporate culture "right".

The result of the Olympics auction has been the destruction of a large part of the community spirit around the Olympics. Those that did not receive tickets have a very low tolerance for all of the disruption the government has announced will occur during the period. There is not as much of a community celebration that the Olympics are coming, as personal celebrations for the people that received tickets to events.

At the core for BM seems to be the question, how to best manage the size of the event? (presumably determined by permitting, logistics, and a whole host of issues). As London is finding out, technocratic solutions can have significantly negative effects on the culture surrounding events.

I wonder what will happen with Burning Man? It was always nice when the Burn kicked off, as for once, San Franciscans were able to find parking quickly and easily. I've never "burned" but I certainly did appreciate the positive parking impact in the city.
posted by nickrussell at 1:11 AM on February 3, 2012 [14 favorites]


Well, one of those two is more expensive, and it's not cocaine.

This is untrue if you know a good rural veterinarian.
posted by St. Sorryass at 1:25 AM on February 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Good lord, I never knew you needed a ticket.

Man, me neither. I guess I can understand the purpose of it, but it stomps all over the idea I have of Burning Man in my head. Tickets? People limits? I was kind of under the assumption that the reason for the harsh desert was to contribute to the anarchy of it all.
posted by graventy at 1:26 AM on February 3, 2012


What's a Burning Man?

You don't know? Oh, you should go. Me, personally? I've been so many times in the past so many years, it makes you jealous, right?
posted by P.o.B. at 1:34 AM on February 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


graventy, I don't see how those concepts are mutually exclusive.

I love the harsh as hell desert combined with especially surreal shenanigans. The limitations aren't my favorite thing in the world, but I've been gathering with people in the desert in many ways for many years, and it's really not easy to get the badges to go along with such things. The fact that it hasn't been shut down entirely is a bit of a coup.
posted by flaterik at 1:41 AM on February 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Have they done 'Shit People Who Go To Burning Man Say' yet?
posted by obiwanwasabi at 1:41 AM on February 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


At the core for BM seems to be the question, how to best manage the size of the event?

Fifty thousand people is way too many. Someone else needs to manage the size of the event by creating one or more successful alternatives to Burning Man held at the same time and designed to siphon off about half of those people. Figure out what basic issues divide the crowd (noise? motors? night vs day? animals vs no animals? wheels vs no wheels? age? sexual orientation? staid nuclear families vs week-long fuckfest with strangers?) and find a way to please more people by offering distinct alternatives on different ends of the state (or country).
posted by pracowity at 1:44 AM on February 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


tipped his hat

I get that he famously wears a Stetson, but the expression is " tip your hand."
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 2:18 AM on February 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Tickets? People limits? I was kind of under the assumption that the reason for the harsh desert was to contribute to the anarchy of it all.

Kind of. It is one of the most actively and pervasively policed events I've ever been to.

It certainly is not remotely mainstream, not as my suburban mum would know that term anyway, but it sure as hell isn't anarchy either.
posted by deadwax at 3:20 AM on February 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Aren't the tickets $400? That is not exactly inexpensive. It sounds like saying they don't want to raise the price is maintaining an illusion that they want to keep it affordable for the "real" people that want to go.
posted by narcoleptic at 3:35 AM on February 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


So Burning Man has finally sold out


happens to the best of us
posted by criticalbill at 3:42 AM on February 3, 2012 [5 favorites]


It certainly is not remotely mainstream, not as my suburban mum would know that term anyway, but it sure as hell isn't anarchy either.

Nobody that had ever seen this shot could ever call Burning Man anarchy in any conventional sense of the word.
posted by scalefree at 3:49 AM on February 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


What's a Burning Man?

A miserable pile of secrets on fire.
posted by ersatz at 3:51 AM on February 3, 2012 [8 favorites]


anarchy in any conventional sense

Love the idea of a "conventional anarchy"

Sums up most of these "festivals"
posted by criticalbill at 4:14 AM on February 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have a vision of schism. Every great idea has its alternate born in frustration with the founder. A new leader walks out of the playa and leads his people to the new land of man.

Don't hate the playa, hate the game?
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:39 AM on February 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


The whole idea of a conspiracy to significantly alter the balance of virgins to old timers is ridiculous. The thing that makes Burning Man what it is is all the incredible, creative, funny, smart, welcoming people who already understand the culture & contribute to making the event's never-ending stream of miracles happen at a thousand places at once. Take them away & you're left with masses of bored, ignorant tourists gawking at each other frying in the sun, passing out from heat stroke & pooping on the Playa.

Burning Man literally won't work without the contributions, art, performances, gifts & other forms of participation of its experienced citizens. There's no official lineup of acts hired to perform, no central stage for an audience to gather around except the Man himself on Burn Night & maybe the Temple the night after, when the whole city empties out to become both performers & audience at once, feeding & building off each others' energy as much as that of the spectacle of the Man finally Burning. If all people are left with is watching the Big Guy burn to the ground on Saturday night (and the Temple on Sunday - although who would help build it throughout the week?), that really will kill Burning Man off.
posted by scalefree at 4:40 AM on February 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


Love the idea of a "conventional anarchy"

I apologize if my wording led you astray. Perhaps "common meaning" gets the idea across better. There's an enormous amount of infrastructure put in place by an army of (mostly) volunteers to provide a wide array of services for the health, safety & enjoyment of the city's citizens. Power, ice, waste removal, the layout of the streets themselves, our own FAA-compliant airport & temporary Post Office. There's a lot of chaos but underneath it there's also a lot of structure making sure it doesn't spin too far out of control. As we like to say, Safety Third.
posted by scalefree at 4:56 AM on February 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


The idea that the survey impacted the lottery results is ridiculous; I didn't want to fill out the survey, so I had a friend link me directly to the ticket buying page (that the survey redirected you to). I got tickets. Others did as well. The logistics of matching the survey data (which I believe was captured in SurveyMonkey) with the lottery data do not lend themselves to a diabolical plot. Plus, have you seen the drivel Larry's been writing? Guy doesn't have enough brainpower left to plot like that.

I'm somewhat involved with the ticketing industry, and I have to say that the biggest obstacle that the BM Org faced this year was attention from ticket brokers (AKA scalpers), who have incredibly sophisticated botnets to take advantage of basically any ticketing process. They had never cared about the event before it sold out last year, because they can't make money if face value tickets are still available. Now, they see it as another business opportunity.

If they had distributed tickets using a first-come-first-served and transferrable system, I guarantee that upwards of 75% of the tickets put on sale would have gone to brokers. The main benefit of the lottery, as I see it, was that the Box Office Team had nearly a full week between the close of the lottery and the drawing to scrub the database of suspicious entries. This consists of obviously fake e-mail addresses, duplicates, known brokers, and others. They admitted publicly that this is what they were doing, and they took quite a bit of time to do it - they ended up conducting the lottery on the last days allowed for it on their schedule. This is probably the best way to keep tickets in the hands of the community, rather than with brokers.

Restricting the transfer of tickets seems like a good idea, but it brings in a host of other problems (giving tickets as gifts, people who have to back out at the last minute, legal hurdles, etc.).

The main problem with the way things ended up working out is that they failed to anticipate the human reaction to the system, which was for established theme camps and dedicated Burners to attempt to get as many tickets as possible. For instance, my (mid-sized) theme camp sent an e-mail to our entire community recommending that every single person who could afford to do so enter the lottery for two tickets, in the hopes that we would have a surplus, or at least make sure that everyone in the camp was covered. I imagine that nearly every theme camp did the same. If only half of last year's attendees received a similar message or adopted a similar strategy, thats all the tickets available and then some. Add in every Burner who asked their non-Burner friends and family to register for tickets with no intention of going, just to ensure multiple lottery entries (violating the spirit but not the letter of the lottery rules), and you've suddenly got many times (I'm guessing 3-4x) more tickets requested than tickets available. The Org wrote in Jack Rabbit Speaks that this is basically what happened. They didn't think about how people would change their purchasing behavior in response to the new system, and now there's a lot of angst out there.

I honestly think that this will work itself out once they open the Secure Ticket Exchange Platform (STEP), since I believe that the majority of ticket brokers were kept out of the lottery due to the scrubbing period, and the glut of tickets rests with the community. Unfortunately, because they have delayed in getting the system set up (they shouldn't have conducted the drawing until STEP was ready - it needed to be a priority), no one has line of sight into the true number of tickets available for sale within the community. Even my own theme camp community of about 100 people has no clear idea yet of how many tickets we've received in aggregate, how many people are taken care of, and how many are in need. The problem right now is an information gap, and STEP is the solution. I can only hope they're fast tracking it, because it's the only way people are going to quiet down.

That turned into a lot more than I originally intended to write, but it's the situation as I see it.

See you on the Playa.
posted by awesomebrad at 5:29 AM on February 3, 2012 [11 favorites]


Metafilter: robots on fire.
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 5:58 AM on February 3, 2012


Burning Man? Hell, I don't even own a television!
posted by The Deej at 6:05 AM on February 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


An informal survey is a really, really terrible way to try to identify bias statistically in a random sample. Obviously the people who did not get tickets are the ones who are going to look for and find the survey.

After the sold-out tickets last year, I thought about buying one just in case. And I haven't been in years -- 9 times zones and 2 weeks off is hard to pull off annually -- and I probably won't go this year either. However I know I can sell it (at cost of course), so it's essentially no risk. The way I see it, a lot of "maybes" are going to just try to buy tickets too, not to mention the scalpers. As soon as the event is going to sell out, then higher perceived demand will drive actual demand up.

They need to start having more will-call or non-transferrable tickets. And then only allow transfers of those named tickets through BM itself, where they can police that the resale is at face value. I'm sure they'll do this eventually because the alternatives are clearly so much worse for the event and the community.
posted by cotterpin at 6:18 AM on February 3, 2012


One friend did have a decent idea (with some possible serious issues): sell tickets only at the gate. first 50k people in are the only people who get in.

Remember Woodstock?
posted by Jahaza at 6:53 AM on February 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Shame that Burning Man has become more of a joke than The Gathering of the Juggalos.
posted by inturnaround at 7:04 AM on February 3, 2012


Oh man, waiting for the Lollapalooze-style riots when people arrive in the desert and discover their tickets are fake.

If there is a 66% rejection rate for tickets, that means that the demand for BM is at 300% of their capacity. Holy shit.
posted by Theta States at 7:17 AM on February 3, 2012


Plus, have you seen the drivel Larry's been writing? Guy doesn't have enough brainpower left to plot like that.

oooo, link?
posted by Theta States at 7:22 AM on February 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Theta States: I speak of this year's theme message. But if you search YouTube, I'm sure you'll find some entertaining videos.
posted by awesomebrad at 7:39 AM on February 3, 2012


The statistical analysis is a joke, considering it comes from a totally non-random population.

The problem was obvious from the second a lottery was announced: People requested more than they needed, and couples each signed up for 2 in hopes that one of them would win. Even if you remove scalpers from the equation, the lottery mechanism should have (and apparently did) led to approximately double the ticket requests than were actually needed.

The overflow ticket sale will be enormous, but the panic will make that also sell out quickly. The final ticket sale will be ever worse. There will be thousands of tickets available from scalpers in June (how this lottery -- created to "limit scalping" -- was supposed to actually limit scalping has remained a mystery).

So most of us who want tickets will still be able to get them, but in the meantime there are 2 problems:

1) What should have been a 3-hour ordeal to find out if you have a ticket will instead take months (funny, Coachella didn't have any problems with 1st come/1st serve).
2) Burning Man is full of major projects that take months to organize and build, but some people won't even know if they have tickets until June. Expect fewer big projects this year.

Many in the community predicted this, but the board -- none of whom are qualified to organize an event like this -- didn't care.
posted by coolguymichael at 8:24 AM on February 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh man, waiting for the Lollapalooze-style riots when people arrive in the desert and discover their tickets are fake.

If there is a 66% rejection rate for tickets, that means that the demand for BM is at 300% of their capacity. Holy shit.


I doubt that. The usual response among these sorts of communities to perceived scarcity is to do pretty much what awesomebrad described: find everyone you can to put their name in, and then sort out who is really going and redistribute the tickets you've received. I'm on an email list (how old-fashioned that sounds), and the week before events there's a big scramble for people to 1) get rid of tickets, 2) find tickets for other people who need them. Everyone who wants to go will probably get to go, but the randomness of the lottery process evaporates as connected people usually get a ticket anyway.

The stupidest thing about this is that big groups can't count on having X number of tickets or specific people going in advance. Then again, I always liked BurningMan better when it was smaller and cheaper, and therefore there were more individual weirdos making art and being strange mixed in with the hyper-large and organized. So maybe that will happen again, but I suspect that many people have grown accustomed to being entertained by others at this event. I guess we'll see.
posted by oneirodynia at 8:52 AM on February 3, 2012


maybe it's silly, but black rock city is my favorite place on earth. this ticketing clusterfuck is really, really bumming me out.

I didn't win tickets. neither did my husband. we both registered for two (yep, we were one of those couples) and I felt pretty confident at least one of us would win. we didn't. in our small camp of 23 people, only 7 were awarded tickets. that 30% ratio seems pretty standard across the board, from what I've seen -- at this point, with 44k tickets distributed including presale, one would think at least 75% of hopeful attendees would have tickets by now.

I don't know anybody that has extra tickets. that's the great big mystery of it all -- where are they? Burning Man wants us to think other burners are sitting on them, and they'll all be up for grabs in this magical STEP program. but it's hard to have confidence in it -- I mean, if I had extras, you'd better believe I'd sell them to a friend first. there are really only three possibilities, or a mix & match of the three: burners with extras, which is the best case; a whole shit ton more newbies this year (blame the doctor!); and/or scalpers.

the scalper solution, obviously, is making tickets non-transferable. (wanna gift a ticket? gift money instead for buying one.) the problem with that seems to be lack of manpower -- it'd slow down already-slow entry a ton, backing up the single-lane highway, which would endanger the permits -- but I'd volunteer to check IDs at the gate so hard. so would all the burners I know. everyone would deal with a little extra discomfort to get their friends out there; lord knows it's already a pain in the ass.

no matter what, it's created a crisis of confidence in the entire community. even those who have tickets are missing more than half their camps. there's no sense in costuming or creating art -- especially on a large scale -- because there's no guarantee you'll go. which is rough. planning for the playa has been my happy place in recent tough times, and this is breaking my heart.
posted by changeling at 9:00 AM on February 3, 2012 [4 favorites]


Someone else needs to manage the size of the event by creating one or more successful alternatives to Burning Man held at the same time and designed to siphon off about half of those people.

Not exactly a 100% crossover, but DragonCon is held the same weekend, on the other side of the country. Both events tend attract creative types and non-bathers.

Both events have been growing at what feels like a pretty equal pace, but I think DragonCon has a bit more room to grow (though not a hell of a lot)
posted by ShutterBun at 9:50 AM on February 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


For me, there was a creeping sense of more police, more rangers, more cars ... plus higher, higher, higher ticket prices. The cost of the trip itself was prohibitive enough.

But there was also a shark-jumping moment when I stumbled into a giant dome rave at 3 or 4am one night and walked straight into a uniformed policeman with a gun inside the party.

I'm sure Burning Man must still be an amazing convocation, but it's too expensive now, and most importantly for me, too beholden to law enforcement. (And did I dream it, or did they name the streets after fucking cars one year recently?)

Nobody goes there anymore, it's too crowded.

I know that's meant as a knock against snobs, but it's my general motto. I can't do lines. I don't care how good something is. I just don't want to wait in line. Burning Man never had lines (except for the bathrooms). I bet it does now.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:59 AM on February 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


why don't people of different areas do their own "burning man"? I know they wouldn't be as big, or as possibly focused, but it seems more in line with the origin of it all. Seems to me having smaller ones all over the country (or world) would be more inspiring and worthwhile.

Burning Man regional events (of which there are tons) are a much different vibe, and highly recommended to anyone who likes fun and doing things.

Good lord, I never knew you needed a ticket.

You don't at the fourth of July. But then there's no huge art.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:03 AM on February 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


Someone else needs to manage the size of the event by creating one or more successful alternatives to Burning Man held at the same time and designed to siphon off about half of those people.

Not at the same time, but that's what I thought Coachella was for.

There are also the radical fairies. Just one more reason to wish I were gay!
posted by mrgrimm at 10:07 AM on February 3, 2012


I'm all for regionals, have been to a couple, but -- there is nothing like that vast empty desert. it's just so massive and so wild. riding your bike two miles out into white open space and discovering a movie theater, or an armchair and a handmade book filled with other people's thoughts -- it wouldn't be the same in any other place. the scope of the desert (and the city itself) is hard to believe, even when you're there. not to mention at night, when the stars and lights and space go on forever and ever and /homesickburner

and yes there are lines, and they can be insane. last year there was an accident on the highway and exodus was nine hours long. my husband and I passed around a can of parmesan cheese to eat. but people were flying gigantic kites out on the open playa, and knocking on our windows to gift watermelon and smoked salmon wraps, and I read a post-apocalyptic novel on the roof of our truck. I would wait 12 hours, if I had to.
posted by changeling at 10:35 AM on February 3, 2012 [4 favorites]


Someone else needs to manage the size of the event by creating one or more successful alternatives to Burning Man held at the same time and designed to siphon off about half of those people.

Not at the same time, but that's what I thought Coachella was for.


Coachella is "big corporation telling you how to behave and what to buy so that they can make a shit-ton of money." It's fun, but a totally different vibe, experience, and raison d'être.
posted by coolguymichael at 10:40 AM on February 3, 2012


I don't mind the traffic lines, it's lines inside the event. I mean, sure, move on, do something else, but I guess I was spoiled by times when you could just walk up to everything (and smoke a bowl on the playa without worrying about getting arrested).

The law has provided other shark-jumping moments for me: the first time an undercover cop tried to score weed from me at a burn barrel; the first time my backpack was searched because I "made furtive movements"; the first time I saw an entire camp searched by police ...

Don't get me wrong. The positive memories far outweigh the negative ones, but jeez, the one year near the end when we had a registered theme camp and were on street A/8:30, we had a cop car drive by literally every 15 minutes.

And at some point I realized that I was far safer smoking a bowl of marijuana on the corner of Market and Van Ness than on the playa. That's pretty sad.

I still get misty about getting a hug and a "welcome home" message from a strange chick in feathers on stilts, and there are times when I would kill for a trip around the Black Rock Roller Disco ... but I can't see ever going again, at least not unless things change considerably.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:48 AM on February 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


What's a Burning Man?

About 200 degrees centigrade, same as in town.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:48 AM on February 3, 2012


Also, fwiw, I always understood that virgins made up 50% of Burning Man every year. It makes sense. A lot of people just go once.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:49 AM on February 3, 2012



The Burning Man community is clearly in crisis. This isn't the first time the event has been threatened, but as far as I know this is the first time that the threat has been internal and not external. The lottery has causes a crisis of confidence and now this group of artists, performers, and musicians are tearing themselves apart. The event will really suffer if people decide not to bring their art, or their theme camp, or their sound systems, or whatever. And all I see right now are people talking about how they will not go, or refuse to go, or will not try to get through this ticket thing and are just giving up. This event is "our" event. We can't continue to make it our event unless we go! We can make it about us and them, or we can work harder, have more faith, and really make this thing our thing.

There is no Burning Man without burners.

In the past, the event has been in danger from outside forces- Law enforcement, the BLM, etc. But now it's in danger of people just not showing up. That's the saddest part, really- that this community is going to break itself down after standing up to everything else that tried to destroy it.

Yeah, the org screwed up- regardless of intention the results have been hurt feelings. We need to dig deep and start trying to overcome this, not call for revolution or fragmentation. No small regional will be anything like Burning Man, I guarantee it. Yeah, a large population has it's problems, but you can't support art or a party on the scale that Burning Man does without one.

I can't predict how this will all turn out. I don't know if people are going to be able to get their tickets or not. I am just hoping that burners don't let themselves end Burning Man.
posted by keep_evolving at 11:06 AM on February 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


as far as I know this is the first time that the threat has been internal and not external

BORG2, Burning Man and the Challenges of Collaborative Leadership

Whatever you might worry about, I would not worry about Burning Man "ending." It makes too many people too much money.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:12 AM on February 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


now it's in danger of people just not showing up

But that's really the thing. Most traditional burners (I think) aren't going to be upset if there are 10,000 (or 20,000) less people, or even less large-scale art or fancy performances. To me, the big art, performances, etc. are pretty ancillary.

The essential ingredients are:

* active participation (I think the focus on large-scale art and professional performances reduces a lot of people to watchers)
* no commerce
* leave no trace
* freedom of expression
* the desert

Everything else is just psychedelic gravy.

The event will really suffer if people decide not to bring their art, or their theme camp, or their sound systems, or whatever.

But that's the thing. The art, theme camps, and sound systems could all be cut by 50%, and the event wouldn't lose much at all. For me, it's always been the individual people who are the most essential part, and how many people can you meet in one week? 100? 1,000? Certainly not 50,000... I mean, how many times can you listen at Burning Man and hear 5-6 loud sound systems within earshot. It's too much.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:19 AM on February 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


you know, I've only been twice (so far, dammit), but I've never been hassled by the cops. although that guy who asked me about mushrooms outside nexus was quite suspicious.

it's frustrating how the one solve-it-all solution won't likely happen: the BLM okaying a larger population at the end of March. if the secondary sale were 20k, they'd still sell out instantly, but I do think everybody would eventually find a ticket. I definitely don't feel that way now.
posted by changeling at 11:20 AM on February 3, 2012


I'm not sure how the secure ticket program is meant to stop scalpers, does anyone have details about how it works? If it's a mechanism whereby you can explicitly sell your ticket to another specific person, but only at face value, then I don't know how they could prevent a would-be scalper from demanding a $100 fee (via craigslist or some such) in return for selling the ticket to them on the STEP system.
posted by whir at 11:22 AM on February 3, 2012


it's funny, mrgrimm & I kind of proposed opposite solutions.
certainly, I'd be fine if the event were half its size -- though its size doesn't bother me now, I adore its hugeness, but then I'm still pretty new & don't have nostalgia for the early days. but we're talking about crude, haphazard cuts, camps fractured by half or less, and everybody's generally bummed out & disillusioned. nothing saps inspiration like missing half your friends, feeling betrayed by the organizers, & the sense the event's jumped the shark -- whether your art is huge-scale or tiny.

whir, I guess it depends on whether the seller gets to choose the buyer -- I was under the impression it was first-come, first-serve. so if you list a ticket, it goes to the first bidder.
posted by changeling at 11:26 AM on February 3, 2012


...and walked straight into a uniformed policeman with a gun inside the party.
...
I can't do lines.


I initially read your post differently than you intended it!
posted by Theta States at 11:38 AM on February 3, 2012


To me, the big art, performances, etc. are pretty ancillary.
vs

The event will really suffer if people decide not to bring their art, or their theme camp, or their sound systems, or whatever.


Hmmm, sounds like we've both forgotten that "my burn is not your burn", mrgrimm

I guess the only thing we can say about the situation is that 2012 is shaping up to be a very different beast than the last few years (the only years I know anything about, fyi).
posted by keep_evolving at 12:02 PM on February 3, 2012


I made it to Burning Man many years ago. It was awesome, even for the really involuted and closed-off person I was back then. Now that I'm living on the west coast again, I was thinking of hooking up with some of my friends who go regularly. Maybe even putting together a piece of playa art. One of my friends dragged me to the Portland regional burn and I had a blast, it made want to do MORE.

But they all lost out on the lottery. And I'm sure not about to try to pull together the gear for surviving a week on the playa; I don't even have a car.

Ah well. There'll be other festivals of Strangeness.
posted by egypturnash at 12:07 PM on February 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ok, so if price discrimination is not going to work, what is an alternative system? The lottery, whilst technically not fair, is more fair than many other options.

Only solution I see is making all tickets will-call. If you buy two tickets, and only use up one, that serial number goes back into the pool for those who still want tickets or some convoluted name transfer to a friend or campmate. Either way, BM needs figure out a way to crap on First-Sale Doctrine. BLM isn't into the Orgs request to up the permit from 50k to 70k attendees right now.

Or you can do what I do, volunteer as a staff member and get 'gifted' a ticket.

THERE ARE NO COMPS THERE ARE ONLY GIFTS, YOU WILL CONFORM TO LARRYSPEAK OR SUBMIT TO TRENCHING POWER LINES FOR MONTH.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 1:22 PM on February 3, 2012


RAGBRAI has a pretty functional ticketing system. It's a week-long bike ride across Iowa that caps registration at 10,000 people. They also do a lottery, but you register as part of whatever team you're with, and when the name of anyone on your team gets drawn, the entire team is automatically pulled in. Repeat until there are no tickets left.

This gives a strong incentive to go with a group and keeps groups from getting broken up over who has/doesn't have a ticket.
posted by kaibutsu at 1:42 PM on February 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


black rock city LLC just posted a statement.
posted by changeling at 3:52 PM on February 3, 2012


Why not just do something new?
posted by WASP-12b at 3:55 PM on February 3, 2012


Last link broken. Mods plz fix?
posted by scalefree at 5:26 PM on February 3, 2012


I wonder why the borg needed that 155% increase in payroll between 2009 and 2010?

Thing is, even if they wanted to cancel burning man, there's no way the BLM would allow that. It's too big of a moneymaker for them. If the borg pulled out there'd be a new organization up and running within weeks, and event that's the same in everything but name would be planned and in motion for labor day weekend without skipping a beat. This thing is bigger than the borg, they're really more of a hood ornament.

Everyone's been saying 'oh, we can't put names on tickets because that would take too long to check and there'd be a huge backup all the way to the highway.' Thing is, they already do exhaustive vehicle searches that take upwards of five minutes per vehicle, and longer for RVs. There's no reason in the world that the ID check couldn't happen while they're tossing your car without adding a second to the entrance time. Names on tickets would end the scalping in a heartbeat.
posted by mullingitover at 8:31 PM on February 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't know about this "prejudice against regulars" poll, but of the folks I know who go to Burning Man, the only ones who have tickets are the ones who have been working at Burning Man for a lot of years and earned enough volunteer time to get a free ticket. It's truly astonishing that entire camps except for 1-3 people are not getting in, all over the place, whether they were trying to buy one ticket or two. Will anybody even be able to pull off having a camp? Is there a point in trying to prep your camp's art at this point on spec in hopes that you miraculously get in later? Without having any idea if you can get in at all, is there a point to trying, or should you just move on with your life? That, more than anything, seems to me like that would sink Burning Man. It is a giant year-round project for most people, and if they're not going to be sure they can get in and reunite with their friends and create awesome things to see, is it going to last? Especially with things being dicey as to anyone getting in? Is there any point in newbies trying it out now?

Meanwhile, my friend who works at Burning Man is feeling like it's not as fun as it used to be (especially if she's not doing so much fun stuff due to checking people for OD's or whatever), for many reasons, and she's not even so much in the mood to go if most people can't.

I was also considering going to Burning Man again. I went in college, then ended up with a job where the big boss wanted to have work retreat during Burning Man week, so I haven't been able to go. The big boss quit JUST after the tickets sold out last year. And now it looks like there's no point in trying to go back even if I am not stuck doing teambuilding games instead. Feh.

Oh well, there's still 4th of Juplaya, which doesn't have too many art exhibits, but it's quieter, and you can drive about the playa as much as you want, and there's access to the hot springs. Mmm, hot springs. So there's that. And since Burning Man seems to run year-round in the Bay Area now and there seems to be some Burner party every single weekend (hence why I rarely see my friend, what with her heavy party schedule), I suppose everyone can still get their freak on at those.

But it's really sad that the giant art show/party/drug fest/whatever that brought everyone together is falling apart because people literally can't get in to put it on any more.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:06 PM on February 3, 2012


Redoing the link with a relevant quote:

"Following phone conversations with major theme camp and art group organizers, we determined that only 20%-25% of the key people needed to bring those projects to the playa had received notifications for tickets."


Ouch.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:10 PM on February 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Unless things change dramatically it's going to be nothing but a bunch of wealthy people with RVs in the desert.
posted by mullingitover at 9:47 PM on February 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Not likely, mullingitover. Some of us who were lucky enough to get tickets do the tent camping thing. It won't be all rich people in RVs, but it will be radically different. The folks who run our village, for example, didn't get tickets...which leaves us in quite an interesting situation.

I don't think it's a gigantic conspiracy. They tried a radical experiment. We won't actually know if it succeeded until August. It does seem like it is going to shake up the theme camps and art installations a LOT.

The one suggestion I've seen that actually seems to make sense is to start selling the tickets at a very high price in December, and release them in bursts at a steadily lower price. The highest-priced tickets stay on the books until they're all sold. What would be the point of scalping at a high price when lower-priced tickets were coming on the market? And if you have the cash and want some security, you can buy tix during the exorbitantly-priced first week. It's an interesting idea, anyway.
posted by rednikki at 11:58 PM on February 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


With their outrageous ticket prices, Burning Man is firmly an activity for the 1% or those close to it in my mind.
posted by MattMangels at 2:17 PM on February 4, 2012


That's kind of a ridiculous thing to say. The most expensive tickets are $300, that's $37.50 a day. Not much different than most campground rates. A six day pass to Disneyland is $39 a day. I know quite a few people that make Burning Man their annual vacation and they are not at or close to the 1% income bracket.
posted by the_artificer at 4:30 PM on February 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


the_artificer: "The most expensive tickets are $300"

Not to nitpick, but the most expensive tickets this year were $420.
posted by mullingitover at 4:42 PM on February 4, 2012


Oops. Didn't catch this years price hike. That's still no where near the wealthy elites only range.
posted by the_artificer at 5:08 PM on February 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


True. Plus, ticket price is only a fraction of the overall cost of attending the event. Camp dues, gas, supplies, it all adds up. It's not a deal-breaker considering attending the burn is still roughly the same cost as any other destination vacation.

However, I still find it easy to gripe about ticket price increases when basically all the increases in ticket cost have gone straight to the BMORG's payroll (as shown in that link I posted upthread).
posted by mullingitover at 5:27 PM on February 4, 2012


Everyone's been saying 'oh, we can't put names on tickets because that would take too long to check and there'd be a huge backup all the way to the highway.' Thing is, they already do exhaustive vehicle searches that take upwards of five minutes per vehicle, and longer for RVs. There's no reason in the world that the ID check couldn't happen while they're tossing your car without adding a second to the entrance time. Names on tickets would end the scalping in a heartbeat.

If that actual paper "difficult" to counterfeit ticket had a name on it, and a person had to have an id to go with that name, that would probably work at the gate. I'm actually pretty down with something like that.

What I have said I think would be quite difficult and prone to problems, is some sort of easy-to-print-but-must-be-scanned-to-be-verified system. Very different things.
posted by flaterik at 12:36 AM on February 5, 2012


If past attendance trends held true, you'd expect demand of say... 57000 or so for the 50,000 spots.
With a 2/3 rejection rate, that means the "demand" was 150,000 asks for the 50,000 tickets, which seems insane.

So there is probably a mass coordination of people hoarding for scalping. If all 57,000 prospective attendees eached requested 2 tickets, that would be a request for 114,000 tickets, and you'd expect a rejection rate of 50%.

So let's see what starts bubbling on the secondary market...
posted by Theta States at 5:50 AM on February 6, 2012


Oh wait, only 43,000 tickets available, so adjust numbers accordingly.
But this article mention another 10,000 tickets being released first come, first serve in March.
But on scalper sites, tickets are currently starting at $650 each, and quickly in to the 4 digits.
posted by Theta States at 6:01 AM on February 6, 2012


Re: Burning Man Addresses 2012 Ticket Situation from Maid Marian herself.

Pretty much a major clusterfuck. I mean, how can you not give tickets to everyone involved in an approved Theme Camp?!

... And then how can you approve the theme camps 3 months after giving out tickets ... ?

I've been out of the loop for 6+ years, but the lottery seems like a decent idea in theory that was totally fucked during implementation.

Unless things change dramatically it's going to be nothing but a bunch of wealthy people with RVs in the desert.

Cynics would says it's been that way for a while (remember that guy with the beer-can-man trailer who used to make little Burning Men out of beer cans? he told me he was quitting because BM had become like the Rose Parade ... in 2004.)

Check out the RV compounds. All OVER the place. The last time I was there, I'm pretty sure there was a makeshift porn studio next door.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:42 PM on February 6, 2012


mrgrimm: "Check out the RV compounds. All OVER the place."

I was cursing the RVs enthusiastically last year when I was waiting in the entrance line for four hours, because they require so much extra effort to search. I was sure they were the cause of the excessive wait.

Personally I'd love to see either a cruelly high fee to bring in an RV (a thousand bucks a pop sounds about right), or simply banning them altogether. That would do wonders for keeping out the tourists and keeping more tickets available for the dedicated artists and theme camps.
posted by mullingitover at 1:38 PM on February 6, 2012


Check out the RV compounds. All OVER the place.

Individual RVs are a choice for some, necessity for others. I can understand someone older, very young or physically less fit needing a break from the elements.

But the closed off RV compounds should be totally banned; they're an offense against the spirit of the event, the epitomy of 1% privilege & exclusivity. They offer nothing to the gift economy & are a net loss to the city & its participating citizens. Catered meals, pampered tourists who stay mired in a Default World mindset & don't bother to understand what the event is about but treat it like some exotic safari where they keep themselves safely behind barriers of one sort or another & expect us to conform to their preconceptions of their own importance & celebrity rather than shed their old selves & adapt to our culture. It's a blight & it needs to be dealt with.
posted by scalefree at 2:24 PM on February 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


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