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The Multiverse



2020 AltVR Man and Base
The Man lived in several Multiverses this year

Knowing how to navigate Black Rock City helped online venturers to situate themselves in much the same way when they do when they land on the playa in real life. Find your camp, then find the Man. In 2020 the Man Bases were deep and towering, with Participants flying up to the Man where they hovered next to glowing neon and took in the City that spread out before them. The Man was built in BRCvr, the Black Rock Prime, the Minecraft multiverse, BURN2 in Second Life and The DustyMultiverse. In real life, The Man was built and shared by gatherings around the world on Virtual Burn Night and a small, socially distanced Burn took place at Fly Ranch because We Will Always Burn The Man. Every year a Plaque to Remember those our community has lost, is displayed in the Man Base. It was virtual in 2020

Empyrean Temple

In late 2019, Burning Man Project selected "Empyrean" by Laurence "Renzo" Verbeck and Sylvia Adrienne Lisse to be the official Black Rock City Temple for 2020.

Fast forward to Spring 2020. When it became clear the community would not be building Black Rock City, the Empyrean team pivoted, and co-created the Ethereal Empyrean Experience, an inclusive, healing virtual Temple space where visitors could share, express, process, grieve, and heal.

"Now, we are all living in a time of tragedy and loss. We need a Temple. But even if we built it, we couldn’t visit it collectively. And make no mistake: the kind of grieving we need to do only happens in community."

So the artists who were selected to bring their vision of a physical Temple to the playa — a beautiful structure named Empyrean — partnered with theme camp lead and digital artist Jeremy Roush to create a virtual version of that Temple.

Hosted in the dustymultiverse app, "Empyrean Inception is a one-day Fundraising event and festival. Come for the party, support the cause, and stay for the people…roam the festival as a customizable avatar and explore a world filled with fellow artists and art lovers, spark authentic conversations and connect with people across the globe via live voice chat, watch live DJ sets and dance your troubles away….. all this right at your fingertips." from A Virtual Temple Made of Photons and Imagination..

The Ethereal Empyrean Experience is a digital structure made of photons and imagination that we can all visit, place offerings within, and gather around together for the ceremonial burn. The building won’t be real, but the gatherings and messages and loss will be. And that’s what matters. Like the burning of the Man, the burning of the Temple is a locus around which the community can gather and create. - Caveat Magister

Burn Night

Burn Night from home was a success. Burn Week 2020. It involved live-streaming Burns from time zones around the world, starting at 9:00 pm local time in New Zealand and rotating around the world in one-hour increments until all 24 time zones were covered.

Burn Night: Live From Home by the Numbers:

  • More than 50,000 sessions were recorded over 24 hours
  • 32,391 unique devices joined the experience
  • Likely more total humans than have ever gathered in BRC
  • Over 1.3 million chat messages were sent between 280 camps
  • Viewers tuned in from 143 out of the 195 countries on Earth
  • Showcased live burns from San Francisco to Switzerland to Tahiti


As a community we are certainly well adapted to living and working in unique environments, whether it's Black Rock City or the desert in Spain, where we need to move quickly to bring our community together and solve a problem. Because we are usually living temporarily in unique locations that are forcing our innovation and community in which we take care of others, often before taking care of ourselves.

-Marian Goodell, CEO of Burning Man Project

Regionals were remote in 2020.

Terje Toomistu wrote about the European Leadership Summit

By April 4, 2020, over three weeks had passed since the Estonian government declared the emergency situation, and it was collectively decided that the seventh Burning Man European Leadership Summit (ELS) wouldn’t happen as planned. On that day, April 4, we were supposed to be hanging out in a sauna with acoustic music and healing in the Estonian countryside with around 250 fellow Burner-minded leaders coming together from all over the world. Well, people make plans, Gods are laughing.

Kadri pointed out that while Megs and the Burning Man Project staff are currently in San Francisco and Reno, and our Estonian Creative Space community crowd is here in Tallinn, we are all seeing the same sun at this very moment when looking outside our windows.

The Environmental Sustainability Roadmap was also presented to Regionals in 2020. The Burning Man Project is beginning an open-source approach to become carbon negative, sustainably manage waste, and be ecologically regenerative by 2030.

A Trip Around the World in Regional Burns and Events: 2020 Edition

Fly Ranch

Fly Ranch partnered with the Land Art Generator Initiative on a design challenge to create projects focused on food, power, water, shelter, and waste. The continued to build the vision, host campouts and tours and held a Writers Emerging Retreat. More about 2020 and Fly Ranch
In 2020 we lost so many loved ones.

Affinity Robin Mingle was a driving force in our community in so many ways. Arts advocate and lover of life... She was snarky and sweet, and one of the best people you could sit with watching Black Rock City move along the Esplanade or to talk about what we were doing there. She was loved by many and feared by some who most likely deserved it. She wasn't a hugger, but hugging her when she was ok with it was a great honor. And she and Monkeyboy made things happen. She was integral to many of the initiatives Burning Man accomplished over the years and she will be missed as long as we are this side of shuffling off our mortal coils.
Affinity's Burning Man Journals

Bev Osborne who owned the Miners Club in Gerlach passed at 94 years old this year. If you've spent time in Gerlach, not just passing through but here to take in the desert and the wonderful people who live there,you probably spent time at the Miners Club when Bev was running it. She was a wonderful Nevada jewel, a strong woman who made her way, told her own jokes each time you met her and didn't' suffer foolishness but ran it out of there.
Reno Gazette
Where the Frogs will Go

The Man Base Dedication that would have hung in the Man Base.

The Multiverse

The MultiVerse Experience 2020

“Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself. I am large, I contain multitudes.” –Walt Whitman

Black Rock City moved to the online world to keep the flame alive.

Actually speaking to other avatars on the virtual playa who were people you knew and saying, "Hey is that you? Wow. You're perfect" then flying around with them, or joining them on Zoom to laugh at the absurdity of it all, or all the manner of chatting , texting, while checking out the music or the art or the burns in all those spaces, be they VR or just on the screens created a connection, a thirsty, welcome release from the temporary pandemic reality we'd been thrust into.

And it brought people who'd never been to Burning Man to their first burn.

Really, think 10 years from now... my first Burn was 2020 in the Multiverse. That's pretty cool.

BRC Weekly 2020

Socially distanced and masked: Man Burn at Fly Ranch.

Burning from home

As usual, the 2020 Burning Man event went off without a hitch.. Over 500 thousand Burners attended under perfect weather, creating amazing art, adapting to the struggles the environment has baked in, meeting up with friends, dancing the week away and reveling in the kind of community only Burning Man can provide.

Burners prepared for the event with the usual checklists. As soon as we knew the world was moving towards this year’s event we asked, Do we have enough food to make it two weeks… three, maybe four? Do we have enough toilet paper, bacon and booze? Do we have enough water to make it through this? How about gas for the generators? Did you get a mask? How about some hand sanitizer… For two, three, four weeks max, right? We’ve been working so long to learn how to survive in the desert.

In April 2020 we were ready for the playa but the playa wasn’t ready for us, neither was Gerlach nor the world for that matter, and this year suddenly thinking about taking the “year off” loomed larger than ever. Because some events supersede other events with the immediacy of their intensity. It was announced and our community responded with comments that history years from now will appreciate.

Once you land at the event, you quickly learn to put your mask and goggles in the same place so they’re easy to locate if you’re going out. The hand sanitizer is near the water source, washing up upon returning home is always refreshing. All the essentials in one place, every time, so they’re easy to find when you need comfort no matter how weird it gets.

And don’t be careless out there. Take care of yourself and keep track of your people. Stay hydrated, take care of any wounds you might suffer, however small they are. This environment can be brutal.

Things can get wild so be cautious. Don’t get run over. Avoid dark energy. Interfacing with it isn’t worth the effort – and dark energy is like a virus. You get enough of a viral load and you may find yourself infected, spreading it to the unsuspecting, to some you might love and to others you just meet for the moment. Never forget as with all things, YOU VOLUNTARILY ASSUME THE RISK OF SERIOUS INJURY OR DEATH BY ATTENDING.

When that first dust storm hits, we’re all equalized. We’re all on the same ocean surviving in different boats, some of us don’t even have a boat, riding it out. Masks, Goggles, access to health care, having to work and survive… lost in the storm, navigating it with abandon or hunkered down. Those conversations during the storms about how nature is the final arbitrator and damn, she doesn’t fuck around, those conversations as winds shiver and shake your structure stick with you.

A kind of undeniable worldwide tunnel vision quickly took hold as the oncoming storm gained force, as our inner-connected coral reef of human souls sent hectic synapses down the line and we realized there was a real danger moving swifter than our technology, and we reacted to the invisible newcomer. And regardless of how we dealt with the ascension of COVID-19 as a new unwelcome omnipresent component of our experience, it affected us all in one way or another. Nature spoke last. And therein was this year’s hitch. “For two, three, four weeks max, right?” became a pandemic eternity.

The Burning Man organization cancelled the event in 2020.

There was that one time years ago when two friends and I left Black Rock City before the Saturday Burn to beat the traffic. After we’d checked in in Reno, washed a week of playa off our bodies and changed into our ziplocked clean clothes, we made our way to the casino buffet and watched the Man Burn. As we drank and ate I’d placed my phone atop the steel napkin holder in our booth and we cheered the fireworks, the Burn, and the fall of the Man. We laughed about how cool that was. This year we were all in that booth in one way or another. The Man will always Burn.

From the 2020 AfterBurn Report:
It’s astounding to think we began 2020 much like any other year, rolling out of bed on New Year’s Day, a little bleary-eyed after ringing in celebrations all over the world. Writing today from the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, it seems almost impossible that we were together so easily, so recently.

Yet here we are, adapting and co-creating new ways to work, play, and support one another during a pandemic that has severely limited our collective ability to thrive. All the things we learned over three decades of building community have brought us to this moment. It is a testament to the power of our collective resourcefulness, creativity, resiliency, and capacity for mutual support.

Virtual World

If any community could react to sudden change, it is the Burning Man Community.

COVID-19 sucked regardless of what you thought it was. Humans retreated to their domiciles as the pandemic raged across the planet in a rapid and deadly scale.

As Burners we were all affected and the event was cancelled for 2020. But Burning Man is made up of some of the greatest minds on earth and among those minds are some who had already built the infrastructure to navigate these waters, and keeping the flame alive in 2020 was a challenge just like building and bringing your camp or art to the playa. To rise to this challenge, Burning Man and the Multiverse took on an entirely unexpected reality to keep our flame alive.

Our Global community in 2020

What Are We Most Proud of This Year?

Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, Burners Without Borders joined forces with more than a dozen decentralized databases to create the most comprehensive database of PPE needs and offers in the US, connecting people to 2.5 million units.

Recycle Camp launched a fundraiser that generated $15,000 for the Gerlach K-12 School — three times what they normally donate from cashing in Black Rock City’s recycled cans. Not content with letting the MOOP settle, our Environmental Restoration Manager DA walked 85 miles — all the way from Wadsworth to the Black Rock Desert, cleaning up the highway and raising funds every step of the way. Thanks to you, DA’s Black Rock MOOPATHON raised $31,000 to fund a solar powered Man Pavilion in Black Rock City 2021 and beyond.

We came together as a global community and BURNED at home, with close friends and family, while cultivating new friendships, experiences, and myriad possibilities across the abundantly flourishing Recognized Universes of the Burning Man Multiverse. During Burn Week, tens of thousands of Burners from 148 countries worked, played, celebrated and created across 10 standalone Multiversal experiences — exploring everything from VR playas to over-the-top Zoom parties, virtual Temples to beautifully-rendered virtual Honoraria art installations.

Burning Man Project built our own community-funding platform and worked tirelessly to launch the SAVE BLACK ROCK CITY campaign. More than 21,000 generous humans came forward to help us make it through 2020, donating more than $5 million to stoke the engine and ignite the next Black Rock City production cycle.

Read more about Burning Man in the Age of Coronavirus

Black Rock City

There was no Black Rock City MOOP in 2020

There was a DMV

There was a Gate

There was a Q Lot

There were vehicle passes

There were Streets

There was a Bunny March

There were official on playa vehicle passes

There were MAYAN Warriors

There were Bootie Mashups at Thunderdome

There was music
Burning Man 2020: The Dusty Multiverse
Juan Hansen live at Burning Man's Dusty multiverse
Infinite Playa

There was a Center Camp Stage

There were Rangers

There were multiple Man Bases

There was a Man Pile after the Burn

Some Burners went to the playa without Black Rock City or Burning Man in 2020 to camp and meet up regardless of the state of the world. The spirit of our community is wild and sometimes reckless and it is innovative and caring. Above all it is indomitable and will express itself regardless of where it exists, whether that is in physical or virtual space. 2020 was quite a year.