Black Rock City 2022 — We Came, We Saw, We Burned, We COUNTED!

Now that we’re on the other side of That Thing in the Desert, dusting off our gear and getting back to whatever it is we do the rest of the year, it’s easy to believe that the BRC event cycle has come to a close. Oh nooo, friends. October is when we — the Black Rock City Census team — put boots on the proverbial ground, gathering and mapping data that tells the story of who built Black Rock City 2022.

First of all, you don’t need to be a data nerd to be fascinated by Black Rock City Census data. In our 20th year of conducting research about Black Rock citizens, we’re Burners and volunteers who are doing this for YOU, so you can learn about your fellow participants. We ask questions about who you are, where you come from, what you believe, and so on… with the goal of describing the community and culture that is built each year in Black Rock City.

If you haven’t filled out the Census yet, there is still time! Participate by October 20 at census.burningman.org

In the meantime, we’re giving you a sneak peek of this year’s Census data — let’s talk nerdy about the preliminary results! The results presented here are from the first phase of data collection done during the event at the various points of entry (more about how we do this is shared after the sexy data). The preliminary results are based on 2,293 forms collected by Census volunteers entering Black Rock City between Thursday, August 25 and Wednesday, August 31. 

Preliminary Results

In 2022, a little over 25% of participants were in Black Rock City for the first time. 

Burning Man isn’t a party in the desert for 20-somethings. Most citizens of Black Rock City (more than 85%!) are over 30. 

 

The population of Black Rock City reported identifying as male more than female in 2022. Only the three choices presented here (male, female, fluid/both/neither) were offered on the random sample form. The online survey offers several more identification options for participants — cisgender man, cisgender woman, female, genderqueer, male, non-binary, transgender woman, transgender man, two-spirit, self-describe. 

California residents made up almost half of Black Rock City in 2022, and over 80% of participants were from the US. 

Census team in BRC 2022 (Photo by Tammie Bissa Kingsley)

How We Gather Census Data

We collect data about Black Rock City participants in two phases. The first is a random sample that is done on playa at various points of entry — Gate, the airport, and Burner Express Bus. Participants are randomly selected to answer a demographic survey as they enter the city. This random sample gives us preliminary data about the population of BRC each year, and is an important tool used in the second phase of data collection. 

Second, we conduct an online survey after the event. Participants self-select to take the online survey. Since we don’t have 100% of the population of BRC participate in the online survey and we introduce self-selection bias (meaning there are certain groups of people who are more likely than others to fill out a survey), we use the demographic data from the random sample to weigh the responses to the online survey. This fancy methodology allows us to make generalizable statements about the population of Black Rock City with confidence. 

But These Are Just Preliminary!

The results shared above are just a sneak peek at what we’re all going to learn about ourselves. Thanks to all of you who have filled out the BRC Census — you’re helping us create an accurate snapshot of the remarkable humans who created our ephemeral desert city in 2022. We will soon be sharing the full results once our brilliant data analysts have crunched all the numbers. We hope you are as curious as we are!


Cover image of the 2022 Census team by Black Rock Yearbook

About the author: Census Team

Census Team

The Census Lab is a volunteer team of information geeks, academic researchers, students, and general data nerds who have surveyed Black Rock City (BRC) residents since 2002.

15 Comments on “Black Rock City 2022 — We Came, We Saw, We Burned, We COUNTED!

  • Papa Penguin says:

    Thanks for the early look – I wish there were a way to get 100% response rates, but that would make life too easy for data geeks.

    It would be interesting (to me, at least) to see how things correlate between the demographics of the people who attempt to get tickets, those who do get tickets, and those who end up in BRC.

    I wonder if the population mix stays the same or how things morph over the year.

    Is there a way to mine any demographic data from the burner profiles?

    And don’t judge me – you are the ones who brought up getting nerdy!

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  • Tee says:

    For shame. Not one mention of Covid. Hopefully you don’t suppress the data once you get it. I saw how you were playing it down in the newspaper. You know many many people got it and spread it around. Sometimes whole camps! Way to go not requiring ANYTHING Covid related on entry. Vaccinations? Negative testing? Symptom screening. Nope! So much for caring about each other. You just want entry fees.

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  • Layla says:

    Curious whether you gathered data that would give some insight into the diversity of Burning Man… race/ethnicity, socioeconomic demographics, or occupation?

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  • David LeBlanc says:

    Thanks for all the information intake,,,I enjoy reading these stats.

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  • LT says:

    Thank You So Much. Great Burn!! So Much Love and blessings to Black Rock Staff and all the burners past, present, and future.
    In Dust we trust!

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  • Bart Wolfe says:

    Just a suggestion. If you are going to stop people just ahead of Greeters, for god’s sake pull them off to the side for it! Creating yet another roadblock while an individual fills out a census form on the multi-hour wait at entrance is not a great way to improve the Burn.

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  • Doug Shukers says:

    I think it is fascinating to look at the previous years census and see where I fit into BRC. Turns out, everyone fits in! Keep up the great work and thank you.

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  • Aaron says:

    Hi Census Team,

    In your analysis and response to whatever picture you form from the data, please allow the following thought to relativize your scope in comparison to the greater picture not seen.

    The picture you see of “Burning Man” is only from BRC and only a portion of that. A major preoccupation of late is the diversity aspect. It is a fair concern but what are you looking for? Are you looking for the demographics of who made it to the party or are you looking for the composition of a community? If the former, then the data you collect at BRC is such a small vision of Burning Man that it really isn’t a concern and I’d be looking at income levels to see who is able to get to BRC rather than ethnicities. (Then you can compare that to national or California income/ethnicity statistics and draw your own conclusions.) If the latter, go to regionals and look around. Please don’t data collect. Just go to regional burns and see the community. These events aren’t hashtagged by influencers, there are no plug n plays, tickets don’t sell out in 10 minutes, no newspapers are paying attention. Anyone can go if they want to.

    While I understand BRC is a special event and worth looking at the composition, regionals are a better indication of where the greater community stands in matters such as diversity, volunteerism, DIY art, etc. No one is suggesting regionals be any way other than how they are and in that way they seem to me more authentic to the original idea of what brought people out to Black Rock Desert in the first place.

    Please keep that in mind as there seems to be a knee jerk demand to “do something” if the data you collect from census doesn’t paint a palatable picture. At BRC it never will.

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  • Tony Fletcher says:

    Thanks for the sneak peak.

    Saying that “Burning Man isn’t a party in the desert for 20-somethings” and that “more than 85% are over 30” is slightly selective given that fully 46% of those surveyed are in their 30s… and I do think that is still prime partying age. BUt thanks again…!

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