The Soul of Burning Man is Freedom…

Quinn (aka Ghost Dancer) is Burning Man’s Nevada Properties Manager, which includes the year-round oversight of Burning Man’s Ranch (our staging and production facility), located north of the event site. Apropos of this year’s Art Theme, Fertility 2.0, we’d like to share this wonderful piece he wrote:

“Free!” Photograph by Betty Emirzian, 2009

Beyond judgments and dogma, Burning Man is at its core simply a stage of opportunity for people of all the world’s cultures to come together for a single week of the year to explore, exchange and express ourselves without the shackles of fear within an arena free of judgment, free of repression, free of self denial in an open free environment which supports and encourages that very intention.

For 7 short days; some 50,000 human beings join together in peaceful self expression, passionate self exploration and joyful giving of themselves to their fellow man without expectation of return or personal gain. This organic stage of opportunity for potential enlightened self experience is unique in the world and it happens but for a single week right here in our small sleepy little town of Gerlach.

Long ago the Constitution of the United States was drafted, many wars have been fought and many lives tragically sacrificed to protect your unalienable Right to Life, Liberty, the Pursuit of Happiness and the Right to “freely express yourself” while doing no harm to others. Yet there are many who would deny you these Rights or who simply choose to live life in a self-imposed prison of conditioned fear while sitting brain dead in front of the Television vegetating on what Paris Hilton’s wearing today.

Not the Burner…

These human beings of ecstatic spirit and a lust for creative living who discover and attend the Burning Man event are not content to just sit and watch TV nor passively accept whatever soulless doctrine is currently being spoon fed by the media. No my friends, Burners are in my observation the Peaceful Warriors of today’s potential humanity who are inspired by confronting the lifeless face of the mundane, and who burn within to awaken and live life to the fullest with an open fearless heart passionately driven to create and explore meaningful and lasting relationships with their fellow man in harmony with the natural world which supports us all.

As the gate opens and the people join together to spontaneously create Black Rock City, each and every ongoing moment is a completely unique creative expression unlike the moment before or after it, each person is more clearly seen and accepted for who they truly are through the process of contributing their individual perspective while simultaneously giving birth to more and more beauty and art inspiring deeper and deeper self reflection for both the individual and the collective experience. Basically it’s freedom of expression giving birth to greater levels of freedom of expression and mutual respect as a result, for 7 days and nights.

At least that’s how I see it.
You may call me a dreamer, I hope some day you’ll join me…

Thank you, Quinn!

About the author: Will Chase

Will Chase

Will Chase is Burning Man's former Minister of Propaganda, working on global communications strategy. He was the editor-in-chief for the Jackrabbit Speaks newsletter and the Burning Man Journal, and content manager for Burning Man’s web properties. He also oversaw the ePlaya BBS and Burning Man’s social media presence. Will first attended Burning Man in 2001. He volunteered as the Operations Manager for the ARTery (Black Rock City’s art HQ) and was on the Burning Man Art Council from 2003-2008. He was Web Team Project Manager and Webmaster from 2004 until he transitioned to the Communications Department in 2009.

22 Comments on “The Soul of Burning Man is Freedom…

  • Raf says:

    You may say that I’m a dreamer… well I’m not the only one.
    I didn’t have half as much hope in humanity until i went the first time.
    I am so proud of us.

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  • Corvus says:

    Dreamer? Quite the contrary: Burning Man is where I feel alive. I thank you all, BORG, volunteers, and participants, for that.

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  • joe says:

    Gee, I dunno, Paris Hilton’s wardrobe IS pretty important. :-)
    Way of the Peaceful Warrior is a good book

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  • Jacob says:

    Burningman has been a pivitol influence on my lifestyle and how I treat others around me. It is more than an event, it permeates society for the better. You too can experience this amazing enlightenment if you’re lucky enough to get a ticket, or rich enough to scalp one.

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  • Eric says:

    Hard to read this while the ticket situation is still so up in the air. I’d like BMorg to focus efforts on how to fix this mess and ensure we can all have this experience again.

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  • tina says:

    it really sucks that this would be my first burning man, im still gonna try to get my tickets but its kind of unfair that all my friends im traveling with got picked in the raffle and i didnt so now i gotta hope to get one or ill be left out which better not happen

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  • micheal the reality guy!! says:

    why do you say freedom. you have rules;>> where is the freedom. whenever you have authorities governing your rights and watching your every move how can we be FREE. burning man is BULL SHIT!! with the lottery system and more rules to follow every year. i hope burning man fails and hardly anyone goes!!

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  • bob says:

    Somehow, someway, burning man needs to expand to include everyone. Maybe 2 independant sites on the playa? The Who could pack a stadium with 100,000!!

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  • erica says:

    i am dreaming right there with ya, all day and night.

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  • Brenda Brower says:


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  • Giggles says:

    I think it’s interesting that the author of this piece refers to BM as being spontaneously created when right now the organization and burners everywhere are complaining that many of the big established theme camps didn’t get enough tickets in the lottery to come back in 2012. How is it spontaneous to have theme camps and so called tribes bringing back the same camps year after year? That sounds pretty rote to me. And that familiarity and routine seems to be what people want to maintain based on all the bitching I’m seeing on all the online forums regarding the lotto and based on BMORG’s response to said bitching.

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  • Dylan says:

    I just would like to point out that when the author states,

    “Long ago the Constitution of the United States was drafted, many wars have been fought and many lives tragically sacrificed to protect your unalienable Right to Life, Liberty, the Pursuit of Happiness…”

    he is completely wrong. The declaration of independence states that, not the constitution, therefore it is not a right at all. The 5th Amendment does protect our right to “life, liberty or property” but not happiness.

    Know “the man” if you actually want to fight “him”.

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  • Dom says:

    People’s true colors show when things aren’t going smoothly. I sympathize with the ticket situation, and with the balance organizers are trying to strike. Let me suggest looking at this as an opportunity to tell the true friends from the (I forget the exact expression..) fair-weather friends and letting the spirit of burning man rise out of the tumult like a phoenix from the ashes. Kindness goes both ways, and burners should be the first ones to act out of that kindness and humility. Grievances and constructive criticisms are great, but whining, bitching, and selfishness run counter to what burning man is all about. Happy valentine’s day by the way, haha.

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  • Brian says:

    To Dom: Feb 15th at 1:13am

    Amen brother!

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  • capacity commentation... says:

    In regards to Bob’s comment that we pack in 100,000 or so… there is a fragile desert environment out there, as well as local residents living their lives, along with a limited road system. It is not feasible to pack in 100,000. (I certainly don’t want to be in the middle of that, yikes!)

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  • missed ticket? says:

    If you missed a ticket, don’t worry about it. There is a lot of stuff to do other than burning man… other places to travel to, work on a different creative endeavor, make a difference in the world, volunteer with or give your money to real charities. Having been before, I have the perspective: burning man is not the only thing to do in world. perspective.

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  • disabled accessibility issues in regards to tickets says:

    I just read in the sfbg that the Black Rock Dept of Mobility services disabled attendees, and it is run by attendees volunteering to do this. This camp takes disabled attendees around the city, using acquired wheelchairs, golf carts and art cars with lifts. The camp founder said only 3 of their 27 camp members have tickets. If they can’t provide their voluntary services, (if they can’t get tickets), and it may put the event out of compliance with Americans with Disability Act.
    BM LLC and community needs to recognize the vital services provided voluntarily by attendees. The fact that this crucial service is being excluded due to the lottery system shows how out of touch BM LLC is with its own community.

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  • Dog Rancher says:

    Yea dreamer dream on.
    My indivdual perspective is that your a loser sucked in to BMorg for slave labor or
    really low wages.
    Get a life nothing lasts for ever.BMorg already are throwing you under the bus from all your fuck ups.

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  • brad macan says:

    I feel that noone should be excluded from this because of what it stands for.someone needs to create “burning people” the ones left out

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  • A suggestion on how to make the exit from Burning Man more agreeable

    I am totally in favor of the concept of pulsing and I assume that you have done all that is possible to increase the speed at which vehicles can get to the road. My suggestion does not speed up that process; it only makes it more agreeable.

    Last year I left on Monday morning after helping to take down my theme camp and it took me eleven hours to get to the road. With little to do, but wait, I took out my supply of temporary tattoos from the Hiney Hygiene Station and went around to the vehicles around me and offered to put them on anyone who was interested. A bus driver put a loud speaker on the top of the bus and played Beethoven’s 5th symphony. But because our pulse of vehicles moved in unison’s, this all got old after awhile.

    My suggestion is to encourage theme camps, and any anyone else for that matter, to set up entertainment along the side of the exit road spaced out at equivalent pulse spacing’s.

    My second suggestion is to time the pulses to be on the hour [maybe you do?], and to give a five minute warning by making a loud noise and radio announcement before a pulse starts. This would allow those who might be dancing etc. to get back to their vehicles.


    Pete Antoniak.
    650 952 2375

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  • Tink says:

    The first time I entered Black Rock City in 2009, I entered with skepticism that the spirit of BRC could possibly be real. I’d done lots of research and was intellectually ready to see what this was all about, but was emotionally unprepared for the beauty, giving, sharing and genuine love and peace that I would encounter. I left that year with a heightened sense of myself, others, the earth and the community at large. This has spilled into the rest of my life and I live each day in a happier place. I recently went on a week-long cruise with a bunch of singles from a meet up group. Several times during the week folks asked me if I was a “hippie.” I happily smiled to myself and said, “I’m a burner.” THANK YOU BURNING MAN FOR GIVING ME YEAR LONG PEACE IN MY SOUL!!! Looking forward to coming home again soon.

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  • Jim Firewalker says:

    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, only to effloresce and spread across five continents.

    This will be the closest to an admission on the part of BMOrg that the lotto was designed by intent to globalize the event at the expense of the communities which helped the event grow.

    Nothing has occured as a result of naivite or ignorance… all has occured by design.

    No reason to be angry or disappointed. Heartbroken with the betrayal perhaps. Time to get over it and move forward. By this point you are either in or out. Time to move forward!

    Awareness allows for choice… time for this blog to end!

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