Ticket Purchase Rite of Passage

**NOTE: I AM NOT AN OFFICIAL REPRESENTATIVE OF BURNING MAN. I am merely a Participant with a passion for the event, people, and principles of Burning Man. Half-baked ideas & views expressed aren’t necessarily those of the Burning Man organization.” **

photo by Halcyon

In some cultures, a rite-of-passage involves having your foreskin ritualistically removed with a dull stone.
Suddenly the rite-of passage required to get a Burning Man ticket doesn’t seem so harsh, does it?
Was it smooth & effortless? HECK NO.  (I’m referring to the online ticketing…not the ritualistic circumcision.)
Of course, getting to Burning Man isn’t smooth & effortless, either.  Almost nothing about surviving in the desert is smooth and effortless…UNLESS you can let go of your expectations and forget your plans.
The truth is that the best things about Burning Man usually happen when things don’t go according to plan.  So consider the ticket process as a many-hour (or all-day) crash course in “Non-Attachment.”
If you can master that skill *before* the Burn, you’ll be in great shape when your trailer breaks an axle, your tent collapses, the dust storm lasts a forth straight day, your camp mate drama melts down, or any of the zillion other “adventures” that are simply a part of the Burning Man experience.

During this chapter of ticket frustration, I was reminded of some of the powerful “Lessons of Surrender” that the Playa has given me. In this video I tell the story of “The Fall of Xara” from Burning Man 2000, speak to the ticket sales frustration, & share “Burning Man & The Art Of Non-Attachment.”

** Ticketing suggestions are merely brainstorming ideas, concocted without due diligence of the challenges at hand. **

-Halcyon )’(

About the author: John "Halcyon" Styn


Halcyon is a 21-year Burning Man participant and co-founder of Pink Heart camp. He is author of "Love more. Fear less." and producer of the Burning Man short film, "The Pink Path." He's won Webby awards for his over-the-top personal site & his "Love On Demand" video podcast HugNation.com. Halcyon co-founded the San Diego based "1st Saturdays" homeless outreach program based on Burning Man Principles and coaches people how to be radically self expressed in the default world. You can find his full Playa Tips & Tricks series at www.PlayaPrinciples.com

31 Comments on “Ticket Purchase Rite of Passage

  • Nathan says:

    I loved the line- “The only thing that is not okay is ‘you suck'”, so true my friend, so true. Much love from SF!

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  • Halcyon says:

    Thank you, Nathan! See you at Home.

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  • laserfingers says:

    2007 monday burn was a prime example of this. So many participants were PISSED and DISTRESSED and WITHDRAWN ! There was in fact much delight in the happening of the monday night burn. Pages could be written about it. A multi year participant in my camp says over and over that that was her best most fun night on the Playa. I loved catching myself cheering “put out the man” when the fire hoses started to spout water, and I caught myself deep in a WTF moment. Put out the man???? Once in Burner a lifetime!
    The lemon was sour but the lemonade delightful!

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  • DustyHugs says:

    Watched this video this weekend and loved every word. I have had so many friends complaining and bitching about this and I only thought of how lucky they were to have tickets to such an amazing experience already! Thanks for reminding me to surrender to life and to the playa. Love <3

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  • Halcyon says:

    @Dusty – Awesome! I need to reminders for myself, too. (Daily, actually.) :)

    @Laserfingers – “The lemon was sour but the lemonade delightful! ” yay! When life gives you lemons, make hallucinogenic lemonade. ;)

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  • Dr. Zayaz says:

    Well said my pink feathered friend. The tale of Xara resonates once again. I’ll never forget playing Drum and Bass in the ruins after the storm until the speakers finally caught fire. All the anger manifested ticketing day makes me wonder how many people truly listen to Burning Man’s suggestion to “buy tickets at the highest price level you can afford”. Of course we all want tickets immediately and at the lowest price possible but we don’t really need them. Is $100 worth even a moment of all the anger and frustration so many felt by waiting in queue most of the day? Your time and peace of mind should be worth more to you.

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  • Halcyon says:

    @Zayaz – “Your time and peace of mind should be worth more to you. ” Wise words, old friend. :) I think the “Buy at highest price” system needs some new messaging at the very least.

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  • Will says:

    That was an awesome listen, thank you!

    I really hope those new to the Playa watch/listen and take your words to heart. BM really is such an amazing event, not such for the sights and sounds but mostly for the people you meet there who will change your life forever, if you let them in.

    See you on the Playa everyone! Can’t wait to be dancing in the dust with all you crazy wonderful people once more!

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  • Baconator says:

    Well-said, Halcyon. Burning Man is an incredible gift, and the lesson of non-attachment is a vital aspect of it.

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  • Melissa says:

    That was right exactly on the mark!

    “Things will not turn out how you want them to, but they will turn out exactly how they’re supposed to.” Sort of describes many of the pivotal moments in life, doesn’t it?

    When I get a ticket to burning man (at any tier) my mind is completely filled with one thought. I GET TO GO TO BURNING MAN!!! There is no room in that thought for any other feeling but joy.

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  • Miss Monkey Wrench says:

    Wow.. You are truely amazing. These are the kind of lesons that if practiced and applied could make this entire world a better place…. Thank you! You are a gift!!
    Can’t wait to see you at home!!
    Hugs and kisses,
    -Miss Monkey Wrench

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  • Another brilliant message Halcyon! Thank you so much for sharing your energy. Listening to you I am reminded of my own Burning Man experiences and I have never been able to put my finger on my own evolution until I heard you say it out loud.

    I didn’t like a situation I was in, so I tried to fix it. When that didn’t work, I walked away. Then I started something new out there. With the help of the Burning Man organization, the love from the community and the grace of my friends, it was fukking awesome!

    The experience and the personal growth will always make that ticket price, no matter what tier, totally worth it.

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  • cheetah says:

    You said what I was thinking, but in much better words, and many thanks for sharing the camp story with us.

    When I realized the ticketing system was having issues, I got up and went about about my day. A couple hours later, I hadn’t been dropped from the queue. I was happy and thankful so I also donated the difference between my tier and the next to the BM Solar and Arts foundations.

    “You suck” is not OK. Some people had double dipped lower tiers by using multiple devices, knowing full well others had gotten bumped back or been dropped from the queue. I don’t think that’s OK either.

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  • lala says:

    Hell YES! that was wonderful and perfect. thank you!!!

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  • xtonyc says:

    2010 was my first year at BM. I had a lot to learn about life on the playa and just start to experience the attitude adjustment that BM becomes if you let it. Good days and bad, but really one I’m willingly coming back to . I really loved the line in the video – ” Crap on your shoe and an ice cream cone in your hand. Which do you focus on? Are you happy or sad?”. My experience ticket day, was to log in 1010am and be 15,656 in line. I logged on and off all day while going about my work day. I left the browser window open, so the cookie stayed active, and just went with the flow. It was the line of least resistance and ultimately successful, with minimal drama.

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  • Djax says:

    How many times have I had to let go. The bike chain broke so I fixed it. The tire went flat so I fixed it. The chainring came off so I went to another bike repair camp, and while I was there I fixed someone else’s bike who was waiting for a fix, I then went back to our camp tools/parts in hand, and fixed the bike again. The bike was for a virgin burner, and he and his wife- good friends were astounded that there was no end to solutions at Burning Man. Every year is therapy for me, because yes, it’s true, I am a ‘hard to let go’ type person and the tickets did send some steam. But ya know it just doesn’t matter cause when I have those tickets I know I’m goin’, and I know I’m gonna have a great time! Halcyon you speak the truth. Thank you sir!

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  • Halcyon says:

    I love reading these surrender stories! So glad this is resonating. I was a little unsettled by some of the louder voices after Ticket-pocalypse. So wonderful to read these comments. :) ((HUG))!

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  • jolly roger says:

    Great video. I was lucky enough to experience Xara that first night. If anything, Halcyon under-played how great it was. Your ideas are wonderful and very clear. Hope you have time to come by the Alternative Energy Zone village and say hi.

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  • Sage says:

    Conformist, apologist drivel. Taking responsibility as a burner also means not harshing someone else’s burn. That’s exactly what the ticketing screwup did, there have been repercussions, and many people are still unhappy and dismayed that the organization we thought was supposed to be the holder of the ten principles seems to be trying to whitewash this thing instead of taking responsibility. They have the power to say who gets in the door and who doesn’t, why not make some accommodations to people who were on the line and got bumped and those who aren’t going now? That seems reasonable.

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  • Joshua "2.0" says:

    I got lucky and got a few cheap tix, so I donated $50 to BRAF, bought my buddy a tic at tier 3, submitted a few postcard designs, donated to Julien Cash’s book fund, and have been building an art car. Do something or walk away. Well put John. 2.0

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  • Jason says:

    2011 will be the virgin year for both myself and my father and we are driving out from New York. We have been planning this trip for nearly a year and a half at this point.

    On ticket day, I was beyond excited to be buying our tickets. The symbolic culmination of so much planning and anticipation.

    Then the system broke. And I was looking at 20,000 or so people in front of me for tickets. Grrrrrrrr!! Not because my day was being wasted. But more that I had to wait a few more hours for the tickets.

    I ended up getting tickets almost 9 hours after they first went on sale. That was all that mattered to me. I printed out the email with the confirmation and still carry it around with my in my wallet. I look at it all the time.

    If I could not handle a relatively small snafu like ticket day, I don’t think I have any business going on a 2 week cross country trip to the desert. A van with a large trailer, a week of camping in the desert, mind blowing experiences, thousands of miles of driving, etc. What could possibly go wrong? I say bring it on. I would be shocked if things went smoothly.

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  • Miss Kitten says:

    Ahh, Xara. Well put! I still count that one brief shining night as one of my top Burning Man memories. The whole thing sums up Burning Man so perfectly. Thanks for bringing it back.

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  • Dj says:

    Loved the message. You’re awesome! I learned so much from my experiences at BM and hoped everyone dealing with the ticket issues were thinking how they could apply their playa lessons to that day as well.

    Well done!

    I’m spreading this message to many of my friends.

    thank you,

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  • Max says:

    For the ticket system – could help the similar approach as for last year Playa exit – first day – 5000 (or whatever number) get in the queue, queue closes, they get their tickets and that’s it. Next day another whatever number and so on. No overload and you know right away if you didn’t make the day quota.

    As for surrender and expectations – years ago preparing for some MS networking test came across the following FAQ in their official textbook:
    Q: “You checked all the settings and configuration and everything seems to be correct, but your network is still slow. What is the next step?”
    A: “Adjust your expectations”

    Works as a charm! Oh, and don’t give up on that process :)

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  • Thanks for the thoughts! It has been wonderful to hear lots of Xara memories and ticket reactions.

    @Max – LOVE that Q & A! And the exodus model is interesting, too.

    @Sage – Sorry you feel that way. This was just one Burner’s reaction.

    @Jolly – See you at AEZ.

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  • John Curley says:

    What a superb, great, wonderful, good-hearted post.

    The dog crap’s gone from my shoe.


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  • Daniel Solnit says:

    Here’s one way we can each take responsibility, and help fix the ticketing snafu this year:
    1. For all of us who can afford the full-price ticket – as Halcyon says, let’s just get over the drama, pay the price, and let it go.
    2. For those burners (a small minority) for whom $100 is *really* the difference between going and not – let your friends and campmates know that you may need a little financial help to get to BM this year.
    3. For the rest of us – if you can afford the ticket, and the gear, food, booze, RV, gas, and everything else (typically $1-5k), then you can also afford to kick in another $100 toward getting friends there as well. So do it – be your own scholarship fund. Get over the inhibitions about sharing money, start talking with each other about who has extra, who is short, and let’s share resources and get everyone there. Consider this part of your gifting, an essential ingredient to your best burn!

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  • Fez Monkey says:

    Thank you, Halcyon. Between talks like this one, and your invaluable playa tips videos, you embody what I love about our home in the dust. Favorite quote “If you argue with reality you’ll lose. But only 100% of the time.” ‘=:(l)

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  • freddy says:

    burning man ..so serious about being un-serious….its not about money but costs money…its all about being free and escaping so thats why the people act like your trapped in a world where u cant be free and with a lot of rules and its only for people with money… we have to pay to get in but cant sell stuff inside..so only you can accept money…wow thats fun..

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  • Ranger Snappy says:

    People go there whole lives and not learn the act of surrendering to what IS… They hold on to whatever they would have liked the situation to be. Bravo for your wisdom!!! I think true burners get this lesson…. To BE in the moment and accept it for what it is.

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  • playa dave says:

    i waited hours in the queue…it is the best time i have waited for something in a year….can`t wait to come back home to BM…. and i will wait some more jan. 2012…..i look forward to the wait year after year…..wait on!!!

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