Nearly 80,000 revelers are expected to descend on the Nevada desert for the first in-person Burning Man celebration since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Burning Man has been a tradition in the Nevada desert for the past 36 years, but in 2020, event organizers decided to cancel the annual event due to concerns over COVID-19.
The next year, the organizers decided to plan a ‘Virtual Burn’ — though thousands decided to take matters into their own hands and hold a make-shift event in the desert themselves.
But this year, the week-long event is back on track, with event organizers announcing on their website: ‘After several long years, we are going Home.
‘It’s time to resume our Waking Dreams, and look to the future as we rebuild and recreate together.’
The theme of this year’s event — dubbed a ‘temporary metropolis dedicated to community, art, self-expression and self-reliance’ — is ‘Waking Dreams.’
According to the organizers: ‘After a long hazy blur of pandemic insomnia, adrift between sleeping and waking, it’s time to start imagining the future again.’
The week-long festivities finally began Sunday morning at a seven square mile makeshift encampment called Black Rock City, where free-spirited individuals — who spent $575 each to attend this year’s event — can enjoy a multitude of parties, art installations and even some orgies as they trade with each other for free food.
It will all wrap up on September 4 with the burning of an effigy — known as the burning man.
The Burning Man Festival, featuring art displays and a variety of events, returned in-person this year in Black Rock City
Nearly 80,000 revelers are expected to descend on the Nevada desert for the annual week-long festival
It features dozens of sculptures as well as a multitude of events from parties to meditation sessions
Among the many events expected this year are plenty of scheduled parties where so-called Burners can meet with one another, enjoy some music and, of course, some alcohol.
There will be music choices for everyone, from Latin music to jazz sessions, to 80s pop concerts and discos.
More meditative activities will be offered for those who want something a little calmer, including a hammock forest, a hypnotherapy session and communal peppermint bomb breathwork exercises, according to the San Francisco Gate.
Meanwhile, more active revelers can stack and climb milk crates, and for those who are expecting to get physical with one of the many projectile throwing contests or a foam weapon fight, a bikini armor crafting workshop is recommended.
And for those who want to expand their mind, Burning Man will also offer several educational sessions on topics like the intersection of artificial intelligence and astronomy, as well as the use of psychedelics in surgeries.
Also new this year is a camp on The Playa, the section of the desert where the event takes place, called Consensual Abduction, where guests can climb through a ‘wormhole’ slide to arrive at a dance floor for all-night raves.
Consent is a major theme of this year’s event, the Gate reports — a crucial component given that so many of the experiences on this year’s schedule involve sex, from after-hour orgies and flogging to black-light bondage.
All of the events take place on The Playa — a seven square mile section of the Nevada desert
The theme of this year’s event — dubbed a ‘temporary metropolis dedicated to community, art, self-expression and self-reliance’ — is ‘Waking Dream’
Some of the sculptures featured at this year’s Burning Man festival in the Nevada desert
It will feature mutant vehicles and art cars, which are ‘unique motorized creations that either show little or no resemblance to their original form or to any standard street vehicle or is out of context for its normal setting (a pirate ship or space ship on the desert, for example)’
A lit-up dragon sculpture is pictured at this year’s Burning Man festival in Black Rock City
But Burning Man is also known for its art installations, which this year feature various sculptures like a dragon and bear-shaped honey containers.
It also encourages mutant vehicles and art cars, which are ‘unique motorized creations that either show little or no resemblance to their original form or to any standard street vehicle or is out of context for its normal setting (a pirate ship or space ship on the desert, for example).’
And while all that’s going on, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab researchers will hand out 600 small vessels that look like Altoids tins, in hopes that people pass them around and use the pen and paper inside to notate where and when they received the item as well as where they’re camping.
Using however many tins make their way back to the team after the weeklong event, Axios reports, the researchers will ‘map the economy of Burning Man,’ where people operate on a gifting system.
A girl is seen here interacting with one of the many art exhibits on La Playa this year
Another artist put up an installation featuring the honey bottles shaped like bears
The annual event is dubbed a ‘temporary metropolis dedicated to community, art, self-expression and self-reliance’
On Sunday, cars were lining up to get to The Playa, with one art car taking a tumble right near the entrance to the annual event, causing some delays.
But the traffic is a given for the revelers, with the hours-long delays even recreated in last year’s ‘Virtual Burn,’ when organizers canceled the in-person event for a virtual one.
It was designed to replicate as much of the annual festival known for its music, art, nudity and sex as possible, complete with the hours-long traffic jam to get in, according to the Wall Street Journal after virtual reality developers from six different companies spent a year trying to replicate the scene.
They aimed to build a city out of thin air where participants can live in a utopian society that follows the principles of ‘decommodification’ (not needing money to obtain goods and services) and ‘radical inclusion.’
But the idea of a ‘Virtual Burn’ was too much for some die-hard Burners, and groups such as Black Rock Plan B, Playa Poop Protocol, Unity 2021 Free Burn, RenegadeBurn, Renegade Man, and Rogue Burn started trekking into the desert anyways.
Around 30,000 attended the unticketed festival, known as ‘Renegade Man,’ described online as the ‘non-event, event that is happening in place of that one event that is trademarked and we can’t mention its name.’
One of the art cars took a tumble right outside of the entrance to this year’s Burning Man, causing some delays
Traffic is to be expected at the annual event, with the hours-long delays even recreated in last year’s ‘Virtual Burn,’ when organizers canceled the in-person event for a virtual one
Revelers started arriving at Black Rock City in the Nevada desert for the annual event on Sunday