What does living Burning Man 365/24/7 look like?

As you wander into your camp at the end of an amazing week at Burning Man, your friend turns to you and says, “I wish I could live like this all the time.”

Your immediate response is to yell, “What, are you freaking crazy?” Followed by a list of reasons from food to hygiene to exhaustion that it is not possible.  And ultimately, a seed is planted and you start to think what would a lifestyle based on your experience during that one week in the desert really look like.

Over the past 6 months I have visited 25 communities around the USA and Canada and I have found that living “like this” all year round is not only possible, it takes on a wide variety of shapes and sizes.

Photo By: Purpleganda

Photo By: Purpleganda

It looks like Sally, a young professional.  She is accomplished in her field and well-regarded by her co-workers.  Everyone knows she goes to Burning Man and the local regional event.  Those are her holidays and she gets them every year.   During the evenings and weekends, she paints, organizes events around town, and occasionally performs.  She is part of several overlapping communities that revolve around her art, a board game group, and the time she volunteers for the food bank as part of Burners Without Borders.  This is what living this lifestyle all the time can look like.

Mike is moving into his first house with Cindy, the wife he met at Interfuse 3 years ago.  She is a yoga teacher and he is a carpenter.  They organize burlesque shows and donate the proceeds to a different charity chosen before each event.  They have no children but are already talking about it.  They are active with a local community of Burners and regularly attend all the major events in the area.  But they are spending more time organizing shows, helping friends with other projects, working on their art, and hosting small dinner parties.  The have only been to Burning Man once in the 10 years they have been involved with the local Burner community.  This is what living this lifestyle all the time can look like.

Jim can be cranky sometimes but man does he come up with some crazy ideas, knows how to get them done, and he sure can make you laugh.  Everyone knows that they can count on him for help and knowledge about how to wire anything.  His metal sculptures are amazing.  After years of challenges, he is now making money off of his art and gets to travel extensively.  About every 3 years — sometimes more, sometimes less — he takes a large piece out to Burning Man.   This is what living this lifestyle all the time can look like.

The Groups are a group of intentional communities spread around the city.  The all work together to create larger-than-life events.  Each house has its own ethos, style and purpose.  The annual Thanksgiving day party at one of the larger houses has become a staple of the local scene.  Everyone living in this community has made art, music or performance a daily part of their lives.  Some have called these urban theme camps.  The housing ranges from a large farm house to industrial lofts.  You can count on an event happening in one of the spaces at least once a month and you know you have a place to do that performance you have been working on.  Because as much as these are living spaces, they are community spaces too.  This is what living this lifestyle all the time can look like.

As many attendees as there have been out to Burning Man over the years, there are ways to live this lifestyle all year round.  There are a few things you can do .

1) Participate! Reach out to your local community.  There are communities everywhere.  If you happen to live in a place without a community, start watching the Burning Man email list for your area.  During the coming months, there will be people on these lists looking for someone in their area and you could be that person.  And this connection could be the seed that grows into your own local community.

2) Find a way to express your creativity.  This can come in many forms: production, cat herder, performer, aikido, or craftsperson to name just a few.  It doesn’t matter the form just as long as you are doing something.

3) Be willing to experiment with many forms of this lifestyle until you find a one that fits.  Not everyone wants to live in a 24/7 loft space with no schedule.   And it might not make sense to drop everything and start making a film.  Living a lifestyle based on your experience with a Burning Man or Regional Event is possible if you want.



About the author: Xina Ocasio

Xina is currently traveling around the world working on a documentary film called Participate! She has done many things and it always willing to try something new.

18 Comments on “What does living Burning Man 365/24/7 look like?

  • GlitterNancy says:

    I don’t really think it’s possible to live a Burning Man lifestyle 24/7. You have to consider that at its heart, this is a narcissistic group of people. I know that’s harsh to say, but you can’t function in that type of community all year. It will make a sane person crazy because the group dynamic is based on attention and hierarchy. The backstabbing that goes on in an environment like this is intolerable to a normal, healthy human mind.

    If you’re absolutely forced to deal with it beyond say 30 days or so, you’ll adopt the same personality disorders that surround you, just in order to survive. It’s like war.

    People who wishes this on themselves for any serious length of time are either delusional or already carry some type of serious mental disorder.

    But it’s a nice fantasy to entertain – sort of like wondering what life would be like if you could snort cocaine and shoot heroin every hour of every day.

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  • Herptastic says:

    Give me a fucking break. I like the scene but welding a bicycle to another bicycle is not “living the life 24/7”. Also, how much do you want to bet each person interviewed is white as fuck? Get over yourself.

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  • harinama says:

    For me, it’s not about living the “bm lifestyle” as it is about bringing the heart of Black Rock City Home by embodying these principles:


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  • Peace says:

    I think creative people attend Burning Man and the people you profile are creative people who attend Burning man. If Burning Man didn’t exist, they would still be creative people. Perhaps Burning man inspired some of the particular choices they have made, but without Burning Man they would still live “art” centered, creative lives. I love Burning Man but I’m afraid seeing Burning Man as a “movement” is putting the cart before the horse. Burning Man is an event where creative people go an blow each others minds, it will not save the world. The world will be saved by creative people, but out of millions of creative poeple in the world, maybe 100,000 are Burners. Burning Man harnesses creativity people already have, it does not produce creativity. I’m excited to see a creativity movement, and I think Burning man can be a part of that, but I don’t think there is such a thing as a “Burning Man” movement. If you are not creating in an environment that is trying to kill you, it’s not Burning man.

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  • Sandy says:


    die hippie die

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  • dbag says:

    Thank you for this post! As a full-time self-employed artist, I can attest that I am a happier and nicer person “living the BM lifestyle” year round. Of course, I never called it “living the BM lifestyle” before now, that’s just what it happens to be (not working for the man, etc).

    Even doing something as simple as walking/biking more can make a difference year round. I also truly believe that everyone has a creative side, and I feel that attending BM gives people space to express their creativity. That is a beautiful thing to bring back to Defaultia and can bring positive influences to any “career”. For others, they may feel inspired to participate more within their community (not necessarily just Burners), to interact more freely with people they meet, to be kind, or to be more self-reliant.

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  • harinama says:

    Sandy, thank you so much for your enthusiasm!

    Unfortunately, my “hippie” days are over by about 25 yrs..


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  • Nicole Hickman says:

    Great post, thanks for sharing it Xina! For me, living the “BM lifestyle year round” is about living the 10 principles year round. If that’s the BM lifestyle, I’m happy to live it.

    To counter a couple of the negative comments here:

    @GlitterNancy: well, of course any community of this size is going to contain some narcissists. At the same time, I’ve met more people who are much more actively involved in the wonderful gift of sharing community, and bringing that community outwards, than I have met those who are straight narcissists. Full disclosure: I’m a regional contact, and spend a great deal of my time trying to bring people in our local community together. This can range from activities like one I participated in today, called 1st Saturdays Help the Homeless, comprised not only of Burners but other friends as well, to meet and greets to help virgin Burners get ready for their first year on the Playa, to another region I know helping to create and build a community garden in a challenged neighborhood. If you think it’s all about narcissism, it would appear you don’t really know very much about Burning Man as a participatory experience.

    @Julie: man, that’s a whole lot of judgment about people from just a few phrases about them in a blog post.

    If any of you are interested in seeing what others do, living the BM lifestyle year round, check out Burners Without Borders, Black Rock Solar, and the Black Rock Arts Foundation, to name just three. Or check out Figment, a free arts festival that started in NY on Governor’s Island, which is all inclusive, and not just limited to Burners. I’d also suggest you do a little bit more research before you assign judgment to people based on your own, apparently close-minded experiences at the Burn.

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  • C says:

    Cynics: Surely you have better things to do than to be involved with Burning Man in any way. Go do them.

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  • lavender says:

    it seems that living any kind of lifestyle 24/7 is more like a religion than something related to a participatory festival event with its own culture. good christians live their lifestyle 24/7 according to the 10 commandments and other guidelines. most people understand that to be a method of social control.

    burning man has its 10 principles. to live according to those 10 principles 24/7 is a bit too close to walking the path of a religious follower. why does anyone need to live burning man 24/7? at its core, burning man is a business. i don’t live the walmart lifestyle 24/7. people who need to follow such guidelines for living are most likely lacking in their ability to lead their own lives.

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  • Joey Jo Jo Junior Shabadoo says:

    I like what Glitter Nancy and Lavender are cooking. Get over yourself Burning Man! Start living the Shabadoo lifestyle 24/7. One principle:

    1. Don’t be a Jerk!

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  • Tangles says:

    The first time I attended Burning Man, I thought “Aha! This is where the other beings like me are.” I had lived the Burning Man lifestyle long before discovering BRC. Now I just have a name for our kind…Burner. Love to all my fellow Burners.

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  • JV says:

    The people featured certainly fit the Burner stereotypes (burlesque shows, yep), and as others have mentioned, they’re mostly artists who’d be doing art one way or another. Burners come in all kinds, though, of course. For me, “burning” 24/7 just means being as open and present to what is laid in front of me as I am on the playa.

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  • Amanda says:

    It’s easy to live the Burning Man lifestyle every day. Just go about your daily business in fuzzy boots and underwear, or in striped stockings and a top hat.

    Seriously though, I agree with what others have said here. Artistic, creative people lead artistic, creative lives because it is who they are. We have no choice. We were born this way. We existed and thrived before Burning Man and we’ll continue to do so long after it’s gone.

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  • Thank you, I love this blog post, I am a young creative, fresh out of college, currently in the process of trying to shape my life and career up in exactly the way you have described. (Well, not exactly, but in some creative way that bears a striking resemblance to what you have described here in this blog post.)

    I would be a creative even if I didn’t participate in Burning Man.

    But the most valuable thing that I find in the Burner Community is access to all the people who have done or will do the exact same thing I am trying to do, their stories, their opinions and words, which is amazing not just because it’s awesome to suddenly come in contact with a bunch of fellow creatives, but because there is so much obfuscation in the default world about what creatives are, how they think, and how they get to where they’re going.

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  • Open-Minded says:

    To me Burning Man is about pushing the limits of life and yes I try to do it every day. (Although it sure is a Great reason to get, well you know…)

    See ya on the playa!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  • Alchemy GodsdirtylilSecret says:

    I guess the difference is PARTICIPATION.
    I have always seen Burningman as an evolution. Not a movement or simply an arts festival. Its an enity into its self. Yes there are complications with human involvement- Welcome to Freakin Earth Baby.. Ive survived my whole life with the heart of an artist- I beleive you CAN change your world thru art- participation-entrepenural endevor and charity. Enthusiasm. We already live in a default world with communitys that have standards- What makes living in a Burner coded community any different is that youll have an Art car in your driveway- Your home will be creatively constructed and probably eco friendly and there will ALWAYS be something to do or to be inspired by-competitively challanged over, personally enlighten from,and satisfaction of giving back.
    If there is a talent you have- that is your reason to live sustains you..you should be emerced in it- and it should be shared- others shall also gain from exposure to it- enjoy you-be touched by it-
    You are the GIFT in a gift economy- how you gift it is a wonderful thing.
    I started the Burner Transplant Project 6 years ago on Tribe.net. just finding burners and creative persons to get first crack at the low rent housing in my town -neighborhood. I was missing the city- felt lonely ..so I brought you freaks to me. I DIDNT HAVE A CAR…SO SHOOT ME!! well it was my starting motivator ..need. We all have needs..satisfying them is part of The Burning Curve. the need to work it out on creative terms..emprove things- tweak it a bit-
    .We tend to make the BEST neighbors- we are like bees- polinating the local economy with our Burning instincts. we are a WHAT IF? and HOW ABOUT? and LETS! group..not a bunch of standard dead life consumer culture persons drastically aflicted by life- we build life around principles of celebration- meaning-and spirtit. My property values increased- as did the surrounding village- my property owning neighbors thanked me for stepping in the backround and forwarding great people to them and promoting their homes that previously had crack heads or slob tenants whom couldnt make rent. I was told “Your people are so nice! At first I thought they were a little weird but no weirder than the others..they ” garden/ fixed things up/payed their rent/ taught my nephew to play drums/ have great kids/ ect-”
    I kinda thought we would get to this point. Im THRILLED with the Burningman Project. Im hoping with some serious intrest to assist a land owner in Coloma, develope space for a community land grant for a primary / secondary – residential mixed use zoned area…He has like a zillion acres and wants to do something “New” to stimulate the Economy and SHARE his beauty and bounty..
    There is a farm for sale in the Bay Area that was for sale 4 years ago -72 acres with Mount Diablo Veiws and on the water- it sold- but went back on the market -half the land doubled price- amazing views..close to SF. still totally work it as a subdivision for burners. If your down for getting envolved in these potential endevors-you can find me on Facebook Alchemy Godsdirtylilsecret…Im rather casual about it at this point – but Im working my way around establishing these concepts- I just need to free up my focus and get some more backrounding on launching a group and drawing up proposed plans.. makes my tits hard tho- the vision of walkin out my front door – of a house made outta recycled materials and greating my burner neighbor- putting time in the vegitable gardens- makin a surreal playground activity area for the kids- checkin out films at the Burner Movie house, installing art in the roving natural sculture areas- teachin a work shop- throwin some partys- dancin all night IF I want- a burning school for the kids… burner amusement parks… and of corse theres working with local government..
    its easy. just think frontage art instead of pink flamingos..
    Burning subdivisions for the creative person is like what Del Web did for the retired..
    Im 47 Ive been burning 13 years ..I aint gettin any younger..but livin the Playa life has kept me from lookin my age. community started with a BONFIRE.. think about it.

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  • Neo Nazi says:

    It is sad this Hippie lifestyle never works. It is as ideal as communism but human can’t transcend their ego, and selfishness (named “desire”) prevails in the society. So why don’t you(or we) admit that being a hippie is an ideal (yet delusional) thought?

    Maybe it’s fun for a couple of days.. but I think it’s only destructive (as hippies did in the 60’s) if you sustain this lifestyle 24/7. It could be a good subject of a reality TV show, I think.

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