Nevada’s Burning Man festival, founded on a philosophy of peace, love and generosity, was intended to act as a temporary example of how people could live and get along without the financial and cultural restraints of mainstream society. Over the years the festival has grown into one of the largest events of its kind in the world, becoming more and more like the outside world that it was seeking to escape from, according to many longtime “burners.”
In recent years, elite guests have made headlines with luxurious camps that acted as exclusive retreats for the rich and famous, safely out of reach of the sweaty, dusty and sometimes naked hippies. Humano the Tribe is the most notorious of these elite camps, with a membership cost of over $100,000 and a reputation for causing trouble.
One festival attendee who had camped near Humano complained that the tribe grossly disrespected their neighbors as well as the land. The burner explained:
“They were our neighbors. Fuck them. Someone from their camp literally took a shit on our camp one night. They had their entrance hidden so we constantly had sparkle ponies walking through our camp asking us how to get in. They leaked grey water all over the playa. They didn’t have enough space for all their vehicles so they parked a giant RV in the fire lane. Everything about them was terrible.”
In response to over three years of serious complaints about the camp, Burning Man CEO Marian Goodell announced this week that the camp will not be welcomed back in 2019.
“After negative reports from participants and nearly every Black Rock City operations team, we told Camp Humano that they are not invited back in 2019 as a placed camp. Humano was a strain on resources, had a poor ‘leave no trace’ record for three years, had a very poor 2018 environmental compliance record including multiple BLM citations, and was the subject of many complaints from neighboring camps.”
Goodell also expressed her disdain for the Instagram “influencers” who were using the event as a photo shoot or opportunity to sell products. She went on to explain:
“Whether it’s commercial photo shoots, product placements, or Instagram posts thanking ‘friends’ for a useful item, attendees including fashion models and social media ‘influencers’ are wearing and tagging brands in their playa photos. This means they are using Black Rock City to increase their popularity; to appeal to customers and sell more ‘stuff.’ Is this okay? How could it be? Posts of gratitude cross referenced with hashtags started off slow and innocently enough, but are now wildly out of control. Failing to make clear what behavior is unacceptable has compounded the problem. I recently heard rumors of more than one product or business launch happening on playa in 2018. Seriously, people. This really isn’t Burning Man.”
Burning Man itself is a multimillion-dollar event, so Goodell is selling a product in the form of tickets, which makes her statement a bit odd. However, in the wake of the viral Fyre Festival scandal, there is now a spotlight on social media marketing companies and their relationship with large festivals.
Goodell also mentioned that they would be making it easier for people who are on a budget to make it to the festival by offering 18% and 30% discounts.
“In our ongoing effort to enable participants with limited budgets, we’re growing the application-based Low Income Ticket Program by 18 percent. There will be one high-priced ticket level, and we’re reducing the overall number available by 30 percent,” Goodell said.