Trying to explain what Burning Man is to someone who has never been to the event is a bit like trying to explain what a particular color looks like to someone who is blind. In this section you will find the peripheral definitions of what the event is as a whole, but to truly understand this event, one must participate. This site serves to try to paint a picture of theBurning Man experience to those who are new to the project, as well as to give those participants looking to keep the fire burning in their daily lives an environment in which to connect to their fellow community members. For a brief yet eloquent overview of the entire event from the time of arrival to the time of exodus, please read "What is Burning Man?", an essay written by participant and one-timeweb team member, Molly Steenson. Please see archived sections for each year to read more about the art themes, art installations and theme camps for each year.
Here you will find links that will take you on a trip through the past - through the history of Burning Man - from its early days on a small beach in San Francisco through its evolution into the bustling city of some 48,000+ people that theBurning Man event has become today. These people make the journey to the Black Rock Desert for one week out of the year to be part of an experimental community, which challenges its members to express themselves and rely on themselves to a degree that is not normally encountered in one's day-to-day life. The result of this experiment is Black Rock City, home to the Burning Man event.
There areno rules about how one must behave or express oneself at this event (save the rules that serve to protect the health, safety, and experience of the community at large); rather, it is up to each participant to decide how they will contribute and what they will give to this community. The event takes place on an ancient lakebed, known as the playa. By the time the event is completed and thevolunteers leave, sometimes nearly a month after the event has ended, there will be no trace of the city that was, for a short time, the most populous town in the entire county. Art is an unavoidable part of this experience, and in fact, is such a part of the experience that Larry Harvey, founder of the Burning Man project, gives a theme to each year, to encourage a common bond to help tie eachindividual's contribution together in a meaningful way. Participants are encouraged to find a way to help make the theme come alive, whether it is through a large-scale art installation, a theme camp, gifts brought to be given to other individuals, costumes, or any other medium that one comes up with.
The Burning Man project has grown from a small group of people gathering spontaneously to a community ofover 48,000 people. It is impossible to truly understand the event as it is now without understanding how it has evolved. See the first years page and Burning Man 1986 - 1996 for the legendary story of Burning Man's beginnings and to understand how the event has come to become what it is today. The timeline gives a short overview of what each year looked like. Please also check out the detailedarchives for years 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010. Within each of these years are descriptions each year's art theme, theme camps, large art installations, as well as maps, journals of our city being built, the newsletters to the community for each year, issues of the Black Rock Gazette (a daily news publication produced and printed on theplaya), and clean up reports for each year, including a list of those sites that failed to "leave no trace". These pages help understand the larger scope of the entire experience, from the planning that happens year-round to make each event possible, to the clean-up efforts which take place for sometimes months after the city has disappeared.
The impact of the Burning Man experience has been so...