Q and A

Many questions are asked every year, and rather than answer them again, we kindly refer you to previous year’s Q&A reports.

Q. What’s up with the long wait times to get in Black Rock City?
A. Getting people into Black Rock City takes time and effort. Tickets need to be gathered, stowaways searched for, people routed to the Box Office for Will Call, and a host of problem situations solved on the fly. We only have so many resources available to work the Gate during peak times. We are actively working on improving our processes and systems for processing everybody into the city as quickly as we can, but ultimately, it’s up to everybody in the community to work together to solve this problem. The more people can avoid arriving at peak times (e.g. the moment the Gate opens), the shorter wait times will be for everyone.

Q. What’s up with the long wait times to get out of Black Rock City?
A. Exodus is also a tough nut to crack, as we are limited by the physical realities of having to clear out a city of over 50,000 people on a 2-lane rural road. We are working with traffic planners to strategize ways to improve the process, but, like ingress, the solution requires support and cooperation from everyone. The more participants can plan to leave the city at non-peak times (e.g. other than Sunday and Monday), the better off we’ll ALL be. It’s brutal, we know, but together we can reduce the problem.

Q. Can you do anything about loud music on art cars?
A. This is a tricky issue, one that pushes the question of where radical self-expression starts and (more importantly) where it ends. We like to say (drawing the line somewhere) that one’s right to radical self-expression stops when it impinges upon the direct experience of others. Of course, this is a highly subjective thing to judge. So that said … there were a lot of big art cars this year with HUGE sound systems that took over large swaths of playa for dance parties, often near big art pieces, making it impossible for some (relatively) quiet-minded participants to peacefully enjoy the artwork. We are proud of the fact that there are very few rules in Black Rock City, and we are LOATHE to make more of them. However, this is a case where we believe that everybody would be better served by asking mutant vehicle operators to be respectful of other participants, art installations and their proximity to them, and to be aware of their volume levels. We are working on a policy to address this in 2012.

Q. What’s with all these newbies screwing everything up?
A. On average, around 20-25% of our population are first-timers in any given year. Some of ’em “get it” right off the bat, and some of them don’t. We do our best to share important information about Burning Man with these folks prior to their arrival on playa. But as you probably know, you don’t really get what Burning Man is about until you experience it for yourself … and you adapt and adjust to it. We welcome new Burners — the more people who experience this experiment in community, the better. It’s up to all of us, as a community, to (diplomatically, of course) acculturate these folks before they arrive and especially once they’re in BRC. And don’t forget, you were a newbie once too — and YOU figured it out.

Q. What about these weekend warriors?
A. They’ve been here before, they’ll be here again. The folks who show up just for the weekend, looking to let loose and tear things up. This is an opportunity to exercise radical inclusion. Just as the right to free speech is only truly tested when somebody is saying something you don’t like, so too radical inclusion in our community is tested when somebody’s “not doing it right”. Could we stop them from coming? Well, how do we pre-judge somebody? There are “legitimate” Burners who are only able to come for the weekend; attempting to weed out “bad apples” would be a near impossibility. It’s going to be an ongoing part of our culture and community to figure out how to acculturate these folks, and maybe next year they’ll be camped there all week, fully engaged in all that Black Rock City (really) offers.

Q. Why not ban RVs?
A. RVs may just be the bogeyman of Burning Man. The going assumption seems to be that camping in an RV at Burning Man means you’re not participating fully, but that’s not necessarily a fair assumption. One doesn’t need to camp in a tent in order to be an active participant in Burning Man culture. And it’s also true that some people need to have the environmental comforts of an RV in order to be in the Black Rock Desert (for health and safety reasons, for example). That said, the practice of aligning a fleet of RVs in a row in order to create a protective barrier wall on the edge of your camp isn’t exactly conducive to being inclusive and participatory, and we strongly suggest groups of RVs avoid that strategy.