Yeah, yeah, we know… “Burning Man used to be better.”
Personally, I think saying that is as silly as saying, “My child used to be cuter.” But, let’s say, for argument, that you miss the scrappy, intimate, underground chaos of mid-90’s Black Rock City. Stop your whining and go Participate in a Regional!
Regionals do not have issues with Plug-N-Play camps. There are no plagues of Instagammer influencers. There is no glut of dot com or Russian oligarch billionaire money. The trash fence is unsullied by Daft Punk.
Whatever you think ruined Burning Man is probably just a complaint about Black Rock City. But “Burning Man” is now sooooo much more than Black Rock City. Check out the Regionals Event Calendar. It’s packed!
I just returned from YOUtopia, San Diego’s Regional and was thrilled to experience the closest thing to old school Black Rock City that I’ve had since 1998. (BRC was already 12 years old in 1998, but that was my first year.)
There was a level of intimacy, camaraderie and ridiculousness that you might not get at BRC these days. These things are still present in BRC, but because of its evolution, there’s also more formality, it’s safer and there are more requirements.
YOUtopia also reminded me of Black Rock City “Build Week,” when everyone you see around the city is powerfully committed to Participation and co-creating the event. One of the benefits of the smaller scale of a Regional is that ANYONE can make a huge impact on the event. The effort you put into a sculpture or camp or outfit can affect every Participant. Compare that to BRC, where you could spend all year on a project and have it be almost invisible amidst the flood of creativity on the playa.
Personally, I like the way the community is evolving every step of the way. But if you are missing the old days, take a journey back in time to your local Regional.
Here is my reflection of this year’s YOUtopia and how you may find what you are missing at a Regional: (Transcript)
Top photo: “Merkaba Portal” by David Date (Photo by Halcyon)