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Think global, burn local
May 16, 2010 6:44 AM   Subscribe

Sure, you've heard of Burning Man, that art festival/intentional community/temporary autonomous zone thing in the desert, but did you know that it has spawned a host of events called regional burns? As the name implies, these are smaller and mainly draw a local crowd; they operate under a charter from the Burning Man organization and all abide by its Ten Principles. Most are in North America, but they have crossed the pond with Nowhere in Spain.

The oldest and currently the largest regional burn is Burning Flipside in central Texas, which began in 1998 or 99 (depending on who you ask) and is edging up towards 2500 people; there are other regionals with well over 1000 participants, and many more with a few hundred.

Regional burns were started by Burning Man participants as a way to keep that Burning Man feeling alive during the rest of the year. But with the trip to the Nevada desert being long, expensive, and difficult, the regionals have become the focal points of burner culture for a lot of people, and several have grown to where they are destinations in themselves.
posted by adamrice (46 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
Countercultural imperialism. W00t.
posted by pompomtom at 7:00 AM on May 16, 2010


Why yes, I do know about regional burns.
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:10 AM on May 16, 2010


I've got a bunch of friends going to Flipside and the planning involved seems almost as immense as the different group(s) of friends who go to actual Burning Man. You'd think that the logistics would be simpler, but apparently you'd be wrong. It's not my scene at all, but I'm glad it exists and I'm glad my friends have the opportunity to do it without going all the way to Nevada.
posted by immlass at 7:14 AM on May 16, 2010


they operate under a charter from the Burning Man organization

And you thought the French were being pissy about McDonald's.
posted by jsavimbi at 7:16 AM on May 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


I've also been to events that have tried to get official regional burn status, but have failed. Wickerman, while much, much fun, won't be chartered because it's held at a pagan retreat center, and there's just a little too much religion going around. But they do love my lasers.
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:20 AM on May 16, 2010


Woodstack
posted by hal9k at 7:35 AM on May 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


What's their photography policy?
posted by tommasz at 7:39 AM on May 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've also been to events that have tried to get official regional burn status, but have failed. Wickerman, while much, much fun, won't be chartered because it's held at a pagan retreat center, and there's just a little too much religion going around. But they do love my lasers.

I would invite all hip skateboarding CEOs and other potential Burning Man attendees to try the actual Wickerman festival on Summer Isle, the proper true exclusive one, and to not tell anyone you're going to maintain that exclusivity.
posted by Artw at 7:46 AM on May 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


Burning Man is old and busted. This is the new hotness.
posted by squalor at 7:53 AM on May 16, 2010 [5 favorites]


Flipside is wonderful, but man, did toorcamp ever kick some ass. Unlikely we'll see it in that form again, though.
posted by phooky at 8:26 AM on May 16, 2010


There was a thing like that online called Meta-something. I think a Google search might turn up some results.
posted by Smart Dalek at 8:30 AM on May 16, 2010


Countercultural imperialism. W00t.

Imperialism is an export. This sounds like an import.
posted by DU at 8:37 AM on May 16, 2010


[X] is an export. This sounds like an import.

When is an import from one place not an export from somewhere else? Is this a koan?</pedant>
posted by phooky at 8:48 AM on May 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


Flipside is wonderful, but man, did toorcamp ever kick some ass. Unlikely we'll see it in that form again, though.


Any reason why? Sounded like a really interesting hacker version of things.
posted by zabuni at 8:51 AM on May 16, 2010


My favorite spin-off is Ephemerisle, which is like Burning Man, but located on floating self-constructed platforms on the Sacramento River Delta! It's run by the Seasteading Institute.
posted by J-Train at 8:57 AM on May 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Mutantfest in Oregon, X-Day in New York, St. Stupids day in California. Of a kind but not buds from the Burning Man flower.
posted by eccnineten at 8:57 AM on May 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Maybe it would be clearer if I said pull vs push.
posted by DU at 9:08 AM on May 16, 2010


burners are the new ravers.
posted by empath at 9:41 AM on May 16, 2010


Burning Man was probably really cool back when people like me had never heard of it.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 9:50 AM on May 16, 2010 [13 favorites]


My favourite thing about the Burn apparently started as a manifestation of the principles in Temporary Autonomous Zone. I am damned happy to see that spread, and to break away from the monolithic and progressively less autonomous form of the main burning man festival. When things like this get Noticed, they become more and more regulated, breaking down the founding concepts.

See also the topic of Rainbow Gatherings, which have been going on since the 70's, and have many, many small local gatherings around the world in addition to the gigantic continental gatherings. I went to an amazing gathering on the Croatian coast for new year's 2003 with an attendance of about 50. The Rainbow Gatherings have a long history of butting heads with the US Forest Service, which requires permits for big events. The Rainbowers, on the other hand, hold as a core principle the rejection of central authority needed to obtain said permits; somebody has to sign the forms, after all...
posted by kaibutsu at 9:52 AM on May 16, 2010 [4 favorites]


I like the part about leaving no trace. I don't really care what you do as long as no one gets hurt and I can walk out there a week later and not be able to tell you were there.
posted by pracowity at 10:05 AM on May 16, 2010


Temporary Autonomous Zone.

Anarchists annoy me. You're in the middle of a gigantic imperial power with a police force and military that acts as a deterrent to stop thugs from killing all the drugged out hippies and stealing their stuff. Try throwing Burning Man in Somalia and see what happens.

I mean, I'm sure its a fun party and I'd love to go, but its not a realistic political model.
posted by empath at 10:13 AM on May 16, 2010 [6 favorites]


burners are the new ravers

I refer to them as modern hippies.
posted by juiceCake at 10:18 AM on May 16, 2010


Is this the place where I beg for a Flipside ticket? I didn't know how cool it was and I just moved to Austin in January and now some of my roommates are going and it sounds just awesome and I don't have one and now I'm worried. Can anyone hope me?
posted by hap_hazard at 10:53 AM on May 16, 2010


Burning Man was probably really cool back when people like me had never heard of it.

I first heard about Burning Man in 1995/1996, when I read about it in The Happy Mutant Handbook, which mentioned there was a coffee book table out way back then, commenting that the whole thing had already "sold out" (if I recall the segment on Burning Man correctly). In short: it's been nothing new for a long time.

Re: Temporary Autonomous Zone and leaving no trace - I've been interested in Burning Man from the above-mentioned HMHB segment, but was also sad that it had already become so big. A few years back I went to a planning convention, where regional/ city/ urban/ transpiration (etc) planning professionals/ geeks gather to talk about all sorts of things. One of the panels was on Burning Man, as the creation of a temporary city, rising from the desert, only to disappear completely when it's all over. People have more freedom in that realm, but there are certain rules and regulations that still hold. There are designated roadways, and you can't burn things directly on the sand, because everything must be gone at the end, or it won't happen next year (part of the agreement with state and federal agencies, as I understood it, plus Leaving No Trace is one of their Ten Principles). This fascinates me immensely.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:11 AM on May 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Regional" burns have made it as far as South Africa, where Afrika Burns seems to be getting more popular every year.
posted by dvdgee at 11:13 AM on May 16, 2010


Mefi regional burn at Revival, who's in?
posted by StickyCarpet at 11:16 AM on May 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've been interested in these, but most of the associated websites are too, I don't know, manifesto-y. So I can't be a spectator, fine. Can I just show up in a support role? Bring stuff? Never explained.
posted by adipocere at 11:27 AM on May 16, 2010


Yeah, you can support, and/or bring stuff. There are plenty of spectators, though it's cooler if you join in something. My contributions have been wine I've made, and my pew-pew laser show, and maybe some extra spaghetti, you know, and morning coffee for campmates. Nothing big or organized.

BitterOldPunk, you'll be comforted to know that there are, indeed, events you haven't heard of.
posted by MrMoonPie at 11:32 AM on May 16, 2010


hap_hazard: you know about Bob's List, right? There's a huge number of last-minute flakeouts, so it wouldn't hurt to be prepared to accept a ticket in the last few days.

kaibutsu: I would argue that burner events get more regulated as they get bigger in large part because the social norms that can hold together a small group simply don't work at larger scales. I've seen this evolution with Flipside, as its grown to over 1000 and then over 2000 people. So far we haven't come under more direct external regulation, but in order to make the event work reasonably well for most people, it needs to be regulated in ways that piss off a few people. Needs of the many, etc. I could go on at way too much length on this.
posted by adamrice at 11:48 AM on May 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Friends of mine are involved in organising Kiwiburn and have been for some time. It certainly seems sounder and more in line with "Leaving No Trace" than "getting on a 747 and flying to the States for a party".
posted by rodgerd at 12:27 PM on May 16, 2010


Temporary Autonomous Zone.

Anarchists annoy me. You're in the middle of a gigantic imperial power with a police force and military that acts as a deterrent to stop thugs from killing all the drugged out hippies and stealing their stuff. Try throwing Burning Man in Somalia and see what happens.


No one at Burning Man is an anarchist. You don't get to do whatever you want, there are all sorts of acknowledged and unacknowledged hierarchical structures in place. Territories are controlled, there is no absolute liberty. Groups have been kicked out and told never to return for various infractions. The majority of the participants go out to the desert for a week of "gifting" and "non-commercialism" after spending boatloads of money renting RVs, moving trucks, generators,and buying crap at Home Depot and Trader Joe's. You can't sneak in anymore; cars are searched and the border is patrolled.

Any sort of TAZ at Burning Man is just lip service at this point. That kind of thinking had to go after the deaths in '96.
posted by oneirodynia at 12:40 PM on May 16, 2010 [4 favorites]


I'm a fan of exploiting upper middle class people with disposable income. If only we could all turn burning something after a bad relationship ends into a business model.

I first read about it in wired magazine in the mid nineties and have since only watched it get more ridiculous, especially the "Buy a ticket to volunteer to be my bitch all week" inner circle thing.
posted by beardlace at 1:20 PM on May 16, 2010


While I was at Toast last weekend, I want to point out that Nowhere is NOT a regional burn, technically.

But I *have* been saying for years if Burning Man was ever at an end, the ethos it has inspired will continue into many smaller events. I've enjoyed every regional burn I've been to, like Utah's Synorgy.

There is power in community fire, and the legacy of the burning man's principles make the attendees far more responsible for their lives and the event (and event site) than your typical Rainbozo.
posted by Catblack at 2:02 PM on May 16, 2010


adamrice : Indeed I have, and I've been reassured that lots of people will flake out, and tickets change hands, at the last minute. But I just signed up for Bob's List, and it says

That's a total of 469 tickets still needed by 297 people!!

So that's why I'm kinda worried, but I'm sure it'll all work out.

But I figured a little begging probably wouldn't hurt.
posted by hap_hazard at 2:24 PM on May 16, 2010


Catblack: if Nowhere isn't a regional burn, technically, then what is it? There's nothing in that FAQ that disclaims regional-burn status, and the Burning Man website includes it in its Official Regional Event List.
posted by adamrice at 2:40 PM on May 16, 2010


Anarchists annoy me.
It furthermore occurred to me that, basically, anarchy is in fact the only political position that is actually possible. I believe that all other political states are in fact variations or outgrowths of a basic state of anarchy; after all, when you mention the idea of anarchy to most people they will tell you what a bad idea it is because the biggest gang would just take over. Which is pretty much how I see contemporary society. We live in a badly developed anarchist situation in which the biggest gang has taken over and have declared that it is not an anarchist situation—that it is a capitalist or a communist situation. But I tend to think that anarchy is the most natural form of politics for a human being to actually practice. All it means, the word, is no leaders. An-archon. No leaders.

- alan moore.
I think you either haven't read TAZ or didn't internalize it. It's about creating spaces orthogonal to states, not supplanting them; as Bey points out on page one of the TAZ essay, revolutions turn very quickly into new states. If you replace the state with anarchy, you get more states.

Bey's vision is an ever expanding network of temporary explosions of liberation, increasing in scope and frequency until the explosion becomes the norm. But just as inside an engine, no explosion is permanent; it is constantly supplanted and replaced by new explosions. He envisions this against the slow and natural breakdown of the modern notion of the state. It's absolutely the case that the unitary power of the state is eroding, but it's quite unclear how deep that erosion will run or what the world will look like once that erosion has run its course. It's probably best to get in practice with autonomous self-governance earlier, just as a practical concern... To make sure one knows how to ride a bicycle well before the oil runs out. It's a Good Thing to arrange for spaces where practical self-governance can occur, even if there is a hulking mess of a state just on the other side of the rainbow.

So yes, do come to the party, and enjoy it. You'll be a good anarchist for doing so.
posted by kaibutsu at 4:48 PM on May 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


adamrice: I would argue that burner events get more regulated as they get bigger in large part because the social norms that can hold together a small group simply don't work at larger scales.

I absolutely agree.
posted by kaibutsu at 4:51 PM on May 16, 2010


Also in the Black Rock Desert every September: the XPRS and BALLS amateur rocket launches.
posted by neuron at 6:08 PM on May 16, 2010


Burning Man is old and busted. This is the new hotness.

Ugh, what does it say about my city (Tempe, AZ) that one ICP concert was simply not enough?
posted by !Jim at 11:03 PM on May 16, 2010


Bey's vision is an ever expanding network of temporary explosions of liberation, increasing in scope and frequency until the explosion becomes the norm.

They're within the state and allowed to exist by the safety that the state creates. Real failed states tend to have a lot of rape and murder and not so many bitchin' parties.
posted by empath at 1:02 AM on May 17, 2010


Auraman (nsfw).

Takes place at Sun Aura Resort. A clothing-optional campground in Lake Village. Indiana
posted by Bighappyfunhouse at 5:49 AM on May 17, 2010


Burning of Will Shuster's Zozobra

"Zozobra is a hideous but harmless fifty-foot bogeyman marionette. He is a toothless, empty-headed facade. He has no guts and doesn't have a leg to stand on. He is full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. He never wins. He moans and groans, rolls his eyes and twists his head. His mouth gapes and chomps. His arms flail about in frustration. Every year we do him in. We string him up and burn him down in ablaze of fireworks"

http://www.zozobra.com/history.html
posted by xjudson at 8:07 AM on May 17, 2010


they operate under a charter from the Burning Man organization

Ugh.
posted by small_ruminant at 11:01 AM on May 17, 2010


they operate under a charter from the Burning Man organization

Ugh.


Burning Flipside DOES NOT and is not an "official" regional. It's inspired by Burning Man, not an extension of it.

See you out there, adamrice.

- Photon @ B3
posted by melt away at 2:32 PM on May 17, 2010


Well, after talking with adamrice I reserve the right to be wrong on my previous statement. Pretty sure it's correct but I'm not exactly in the loop.
posted by melt away at 3:35 PM on May 17, 2010


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