Count-down to Burning Man: The ticket debacle is still a debacle…

The annual Burning Man Festival held in Black Rock, Nevada was recently dubbed one of the Nine Best Summer Festivals in the U.S. by Vagabondish. It’s the “Best for Trying Something “Radical””. And that my friend is more than true. Or at least what from I’ve been told by my good friend, annual Burner, and LA’s Pod captain for Disorient aka the LA Pod Czarina, Gianna Brasil-Ross. I asked her to share a few posts about the event, beforehand as well as from the event (afterwards of course since they’re cut off from technology in a desert for a week).  – Elaine

Burning ManBy Gianna Brasil-Ross, guest blogger

It’s less than three weeks until the annual Burning Man festival and I have my tickets in hand! I’m almost over the “survivor guilt” in having tickets and knowing most of my friends do as well. But I did struggle with the ticket debacle, thinking how can I go and enjoy myself knowing many of my tribe members are unable to go simply due to how the sale of tickets was structured this year? They are the ones who make the event meaningful…

You see, after selling out in 2011 for the first time in its 25 year history, Burning Man received unprecedented international attention. As an annual Burner for nearly a decade I was excited to see the attention the event received but disappointed in the effect… Anticipating a higher than usual demand for tickets, the Burning Man Burning Man fireOrganization (BMORG) chose to sell tickets through a lottery system in 2012 instead of its usual tiered first come, first served process. The demand was much higher than they ever imagined (duh?) with over 150,000 ticket requests for the 53,000 available tickets. Keep in mind Burning Man sold out last year (2011) at 50,000. (Burning Man is located in the desert. Permits must be pulled for a certain number of people to “live” in the area for the week.)

While I’m sure BMORG meant well with the new ticketing system – the lottery was intended to fix the problem of scalpers gaming the system – the result was a huge disaster. Essentially, annual Burners who have attended and supported the event for years were without tickets. Few people were happy and the overall “community” was up in arms. Keep in mind Burning Man is a volunteer run event, D.J.’s and other entertainers are not paid and need a ticket just like everyone else.

Burning ManBMORG suspects (through data collected by survey and word of mouth) that around 40 percent of the tickets went to first time attendees and only about 25 percent of key players needed to organize the major theme camps, art installations and art cars received tickets. While the culture of Burning Man is to be all-inclusive, this has presented some serious logistical issues for BMORG (and everyone else).

BMORG has taken many steps to help alleviate the situation. For one, population cap for Burning Man was increased to 60,900 this year (holy shit, its gonna be a booming dusty metropolis out there!). There was one more limited open sale of 1,000 tickets on Friday August 3; overall BMORG made 2,000 additional tickets available on open sale since tickets to Burning Man initially went on sale. These tickets are non-transferable to avoid scalpers. BMORG is also voiding any tickets they see for sale over face value; this is how they’ve decided to deal with scalpers. If you bought your tickets outside of BMORG make sure to check the list of voided ticket numbers for Burning Man to see if your ticket was voided and then contact BMORG.Burning Man

While all of this helps, it doesn’t really fix the situation. Many annual burners and large theme camps had already decided not to attend and made other plans before the additional ticket release.   We will certainly miss some of those long time theme camps we look forward to visiting year after year.  It will be interesting to see how things play out in a few weeks as Burning Man kicks off. I’ll be sure to report back on if and how things changed.

Were you one of the lucky ones to get tickets this year to Burning Man? Are you over your “survivors guilt” or did you even have any? Stay tuned for my next post on the guide for first-time burners. Seems appropriate given all the newbie’s. I’ll be in the Disorient camp. Hope to see you there!

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