A reader writes:
With all due respect, Andrew, you are talking completely out of your ass on Burning Man and I imagine you're getting flooded with e-mails after that cavalier post.
I’ve been 11 times, 7 of them with my wife and (now) 11-year-old child. Did you know the largest camp at Burning Man is called “Kidsville,” and is comprised of hundreds of individuals with kids in tow? Burning Man is not a bunch of “hippies", but professionals with jobs (it costs almost $300.00 for a single ticket) and families. There are artists, craftsmen, bohemians, old people, young people, millionaires, minimum wage earners, gays, straights, and somewhere in-betweens. There are art projects large and small, cars so creative you wish they were in your neighborhood, and people so fucking friendly you’d think you landed on some alternate earth somewhere.
This statement is fundamentally wrong: "[I]gnoring the pot, ecstasy, shrooms and acid that make it what it is is like discussing a Tea Party convention as if there were no white people there." I have ONLY done Burning Man sober. The reality is, there are plenty of people who do not do drugs for the entire event.
Many of them are sober addicts and alcoholics: there are three sober camps (Anonymous Village, Camp Stella and Hokey Pokey) and meetings every two hours. But there are also plenty of non-recovering addicts who also do not take drugs at the event. You have Buddhists and rabbis, parents and children, health nuts and yogis, and while many (hopefully not the children) do partake, many do not. I met several women this year, at various events, who do not take drugs at all, for reasons of health. Where I met them gives you a window into what the event is truly like
- One I met at the Madonnathon dance party at the Pickle Joint (which serves pickels)
- One I met at a workshop on self-compassion done by the HeeBee GeeBee Healers
- Another I met at a morning chant at the Jewish camp Sukkat Shalom
- Another was on a unicycle and challenged me, on my bicycle, to race down the street
Burning Man is more about de-commodification than it is about drug use. Burning Man is more about radical self-expression and self-reliance than it is about drug use. Burning Man is more about temporary communities than it is about drug use. Yes, there is drug use! Yes, there is drinking! But saying Burning Man without drugs is like the Tea Party without white people is just like saying the gay rights movement without crystal meth is like the Tea Party without white people: it's dead wrong. And idiotic. Does crystal meth exist in the gay community? YES! Does it exist outside the gay community? YES! Does it define who we are in the gay community? Absolutely not! And I think you would agree with me here.
In closing, I think I know the answer to my question about whether or not you went this year. I think anyone who's gone to Burning Man, and done even ONE thing other than dance all night at Opulent Temple, or Nexus, and then sleep all day, knows that Burning Man is NOT just about drugs. It's about bonding. And impermanence. And creation. And art. And experimentation. And connection. And gifting. And immediacy.
Come along next year. You'll see for yourself. I think you'll really like it.