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.
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.
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