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Burning The Man: Burning Man’s Ticket (& PR) Fiasco

February 7, 2012

I miss PR. I was good at it. Hell, there was a time when both Fast Company and PR News declared me one of the best. Not because I liked working a billion hours a week, which is what it would have taken to rise to the top of my profession, but because I have some weird instinctual ability to know how people want a story told to them. I particularly love Crisis PR. That’s some fun stuff. It’s the greatest challenge, but can also have the greatest rewards. In the short-attention-span, high-adrenaline way that I like to live, that’s the juice.

Last week was a distracting orgy of PR catastrophes. Between Burning Man and Komen,  some smart people were doing really dumb things. But, at my heart, I’m a Burner, and I really want to fix this. I can’t, because it has nothing to do with me. I do have friends who are involved in BMORG (the organizing offices of Burning Man,) and I think the world of them. They are good, smart, well-intentioned people who, collectively, really screwed the pooch on this one. They are feeling, understandably, attacked and therefore defensive. They have been noticeably silent in all the social media hubub about the ticketing fiasco, except to throw the occasional barb on my (and other friends) Facebook walls when we bitch about the new ticketing process. I can’t say I blame them, I’d feel attacked too.

But there are ways to fix this. Yes, it started as a disastrous change to how the event is ticketed, but now it is a full-blown PR disaster, and ignoring it will only make it worse. On the upside, the ticket fiasco seems to be taking a back seat. On the downside, distrust, anger and dissolution are now in the driver’s seat. You cannot sit quiet on this one.

So, if I were doing PR for my beloved Burning Man (or anyone else in a PR crisis,) here’s what I’d tell you to do. And how. This is good PR advice for anyone, take it. Use it. Really.

1. OWN IT!  So far, all we’ve heard from BMORG is, essentially, “chill, there’s not really a problem.” Well, if the vast majority of your constituents are telling you there is a problem, then there is a problem. And they are telling you what it is.

Are you tempted to say, “eh, it’s only a couple hundred people on Facebook?” Generally speaking, it takes 1,000 readers to get 1 comment.  So for every 1 comment you see, there are about 1,000 people who agree with it, but aren’t saying anything. On both sides.

When everyone is telling you that there is a problem, and you tell them that there isn’t a problem, you are essentially telling them that you do not trust or value their opinion, and that you know better. That is an especially large problem in this case since your constituents told you, leading up to the change, that there would be problems. This was predicted by your followers, and you told them they were wrong. Now it’s all happening, and you’re telling them it isn’t happening. They are not stupid, and by not acknowledging the reality of the problem, you are telling them that you think they are. 

You simply have to acknowledge that there is a problem. Fundamentally, you cannot have a dialog with a group of people if you can’t even agree on a starting point for the discussion. That starting point is the foundation of the solution and you MUST go where your constituents are. They are having a problem, you must have it with them. Without that, any solution will fail. It will make the problem worse.

Dear Burners, we, the BMORG, really messed this up. We had the best intentions, and it just plain didn’t work. We are as frustrated as you are, as confused as you are, and are really trying to find a way out of this mess. Many of you don’t have tickets, and without you, none of us have a Burning Man. We get it. Yes, we should have seen it coming, it’s not like you didn’t warn us, but we didn’t. It’s kind of like we were over protective parents – we had the best intentions, but we didn’t know what we were doing, we didn’t ask for help, and now we’ve gotten our whole family lost.

2. FEEL THEIR PAIN. Ultimately, you want your users to trust your brand. (And don’t give me this “community” and “family” crap right now. You are a brand, and you are dependent on your users to trust and use your brand. Then, and only then, can you go back to calling us all a community and a family.)

You need to show actual empathy for the constituents that are alienated by your current policy decisions. Acknowledge that you know this is more than a vacation, more than a week in the sun, more than some humpity-hump to the wumpity-wump. Acknowledge that you have violated the trust of your users, and that you understand how that makes them feel.

So now we have to get us un-lost, and we know that’s going to be extra hard because you don’t trust us anymore.  You feel like we let you down, and frankly, we kind of agree.

We know that Burning Man is more than a party, it’s a lifestyle. It’s an act of generosity in which you go all-out to create art and others go-all out to appreciate it. We know that, without you, we have nothing. And we know that we’re at risk of losing you.

No matter how good our intentions were, we’ve left you, quite literally, out in the cold, all dressed up with nowhere to go. So why would you believe us if we asked you to trust us, and come to our party anyway?

3. BE HUMAN. Right now, by pretending that there isn’t a problem and that you did nothing wrong, you are furthering the rift between you and the community that you are actually trying to serve. The relationship between a brand and it’s consumers is no different between that of two lovers. Imagine that you caught your lover in a lie that caused a great deal of damage to your relationship, and they just looked you in the eye and said, “I’ve done nothing wrong, I know what I’m doing, what are you worried about?”  It would likely end your relationship. This is no different.

Instead, be honest and human.

Here’s why you should trust us again, or still. We are human. We were faced with incredible change at Burning Man. We sold out for the first time last year, we changed our organizational structure, we increased the size of our board. Really, it was a time of great change for us – and we are just a bunch of people. So, we did what a lot of people do, we put our heads down, shoulders forward and plowed through with brute force. As a result, we didn’t listen as well as we should have, and we didn’t think things through as well as we should have. And although this is a mess, we have realized how much you mean to us, how much our actions impact you, and that really, we are lost without each other.

We will fix this, together. We don’t know how, but we know we don’t want to lose you, and it should start with us listening to you.

4. MEET THEM WHERE THEY’RE AT. If your users are bitching on social media, meet them there. Don’t stay in the ivory tower of your own web site and make them find you. If people are having protests in the street, don’t take out print ads. If people are in the South, don’t head for safety in the North.

The classic PR example here is British Petroleum’s less than awesome “Beyond Petroleum” ad campaign in the wake of the Gulf of Mexico disaster.  That stunk of green-washing and created backlash. Sadly, y’all are doing that too. They should have been having town halls in the Gulf, feeding the people, cleaning the beaches and literally holding hands. You guys should be on Facebook, engaging in the dialog. You should be really listening, connecting, talking – get yourself back into the community before the rift is so great that it cannot be bridged.  Don’t have enough staff? Get ambassadors, now. Find the people who are being reasonable and engaging in the dialog and reach out to them.

You guys have something that most brands don’t have – true love. Use it.

To start fixing it, we’re going to find some Burners, people who aren’t part of the BMORG, and are actually part of the pissed off masses, and work with them to be a bridge between BMORG and the rest of the community.  It’s clear that we can’t fix this alone, but we also can’t fix it without some orderly dialog that generates actionable ideas.

We’re listening to you, and scrambling to fix this, together.

5. TAKE YOUR CUES FROM YOUR PEOPLE. It’s a mess, right?!  You don’t know how to make the angry masses not be angry, right?!  Wrong. They’re telling you what they want. All you have to do is listen to them. The beauty of that is that not only have they offered you solutions – name / photo linked tickets, single price tickets, more ingress lines with fewer greeter antics – by taking their suggestions, you are showing them that you trust them and are actually in it together. What’s more, you’ll get them to DO THE WORK FOR YOU! There have been countless offers for everything from communications work, system architecture, volunteer committees etc….. Use it. Ask for help! Trust your users.

To that end, we are looking into your ticketing suggestions. We think they’re good. Even if we can’t get to it this year, you  have our PROMISE that we will try to do it for next year. We also hear how much you want to be involved in helping us solve this problem. We will be thrilled to work with our community to build new systems that are more efficient, inclusive, and likely to result in the vibrant art and culture that makes us who we are.

You can look for those announcements in the next couple weeks. We can’t finish this transformation that quickly, but we can start it. And we appreciate that you’re all in this with us. (Yes, we wish we had done this sooner, but we didn’t, so thanks for being part of it now. )

6. MAKE ACTUAL CHANGE, CAREFULLY. When people are this pissed off, you have to do something. Before it’s too late. In this case, you have two distinct things that probably need to happen:

  1. Change the ticketing system.
  2. Deal with the leadership that got you here.

The ticketing system was screwed from the get-go, and the results have been worse than even the biggest Chicken Littles amongst us would have guessed. You, simply, have to change it. You haven’t printed tickets yet, so really, you could do it for this year. You can attach a name to the bar code, just like you do for early entry passes…..

But if nothing else, do it for next year. But start now.

You have also lost a lot of trust in terms of the leadership that got you here. While no one needs to be fired or publicly shamed, you do need to figure out how it happened and tell people that you understand it. Take a lesson from the Komen foundation. Karen Handel is gone, as of today, which is the best thing that could have happened to them. HOWEVER, it may be too little too late, because people are now looking long and hard into the politics and systems of the Komen Foundation. You guys are in the same boat. So you need to start looking for the things that others are going to find.

We are also trying to figure out how this really happened in the first place. If it’s “just” because of the changes and being overwhelmed, that might be good news, because it means we’ll get better as we go. However, it’s also possible that we are  tired, or in over our heads, or that some of us have been doing this too long and are too stuck in our ways. That would not be good, and we promise to look at that too. After all, solving a problem is no good if we’re just going to repeat it. We promise, no sacred cows. Or, no sacred pink furry unicorns with fire-horns, as the case may be.

Regardless, this will be interesting. I don’t know if this is the end of Burning Man or a new beginning. Maybe this is the dawn of the many regional burns, and the influx of Burner culture into the default world 365 days a year. That would be awesome.

What I do know is that the people who are running Burning Man are good people. They are smart, kind, generous, visionary and to call them names and call “conspiracy” is unfair. They also fucked this up, badly, and for them not to admit it is just as unfair. But we will, one way or another, get through this.

I, for one, will volunteer to do my part. I’d do just about anything to keep the principles – and event – of Burning Man alive. And I know I’m not alone. But BMORG, you have to do your part. I hope this helps you. But, mostly, I needed to get it off my chest. This is my area of expertise, and seeing it go so badly awry was just distracting the hell out of me. Especially as something I love so much is suffering so badly.

And no, I don’t have tickets. I don’t know how I feel about that – it changes on a minute to minute basis.

298 Comments leave one →
  1. February 7, 2012 11:59 am

    You know, when the ticket problem first happened. I didn’t really care. It didn’t seem real. Until 5 minutes passed. Then, I worried. I worried to myself, and then I worried out loud. At first I was hit with the ‘chill out’ message, which I was scrambling to do anyway. Once I did find a place of calm, however, I saw the entire internet explode with fears, and I began to worry again. And now? Now I’m not worried. Now I’m pissed. I’m not angry because I didn’t get a ticket, I’m angry because no one has said ‘oops, we’re really, really sorry and we are listening’. I wonder why it matters so much to me…and then I realized it was because I have to suck it up and apologize all the time in my own world, and I see the good that it does. As a business owner, I really understand how important it is to quickly apologize and explain how you are going to work on doing better next time…immediately. This article was written so well, and hit me in the spot I needed to have comforted. My heart.

  2. February 7, 2012 12:53 pm

    Thank you Alyssa for writing this! Lady, you have a quite a hammer and a whopper of a nail…most importantly, you’ve used that hammer to hit the nail smack-dab on the head. I truly hope that decision makers and participants alike will read this post, take it to heart and act in a way that will take Burning Man forward. I’ll do my part by sharing the info with everyone possible and keep my glitter sticks crossed!

  3. Deva O'Donnell permalink
    February 7, 2012 12:55 pm

    Looks like someone at BMORG read this article. The latest BManUpdate email seems to be taking the tone of your letter. Nice work! 🙂

  4. Anonymous permalink
    February 7, 2012 1:02 pm

    A much-beloved event. Plenty of room for anyone who was serious about attending. An organization with best intentions, good philosophy and managable problems. Then… a moderate problem, a one-day and done sort of computer problem. Many months later, the last ticket sold. A “SELL-OUT.” None of this would have rattled a seasoned businessperson. Organizers got very rattled and stayed that way for all the monthes since then. All evidence indicates that these organizers looked down from their steampunk tower at the community they represented and had a very poor opinion of the community’s intellect. They seemed to believe that only they were responsible enough to make a proper plan. And all the while, this group of well-intentioned organizers where in so far over their heads with no experience in solving any but the most simple problems. They glibbly instituted a “knee-jerk” system and immediately began trying to sell it to a community that had no choice but to buy it. Not only did none of them see a viable solution, they didn’t even see the depth of the problem. Burning Man exists in a real world, with dishonest, desperate, sociopathic people willing to do anything for a buck, not in the rarified dust of an idealic community of loving, enlightened siblings. They didn’t realize this and hoped against hope that the world would “play nice.” It didn’t. Tickets disappeared into the hands of scalpers/speculators/hoarders that were given weeks to arrange things in their favor, and SURPRISE, the core community didn’t get tickets. And guess what, they felt betrayed, ignored, disillusioned and above all, PISSED. The internet explodes, the roof of the BMORG offices caves in, and everyone was left scrambling to survive and couldn’t be reached for any meaningful comment. Most tragic of all, the BMORG now knows what needs to be done to fix their mistakes, however, they won’t spend the money they already have to fix this. Better that the community skip this botched year. It insults the community for BMORG to publicly state that certain vital solutions are “impossible.” They aren’t impossible, just cost money, maybe a lot of money. (See Automaker Recalls) Don’t try to placate this community with talk of “next year”, there is only this year. Fix it now.

  5. Alyssa Royse permalink
    February 7, 2012 1:30 pm

    THANKS GUYS! I do believe that this is fixable, but yes, it will take real experience to get it done, as well as the open hearts and creative minds that define us!

    Amongst us we have amazing communications chops (I’ll volunteer mine) and the people who built every known social media property out there, we can fix this.

  6. Anonymous permalink
    February 7, 2012 1:41 pm

    Fantastic piece. If only BORG would listen to you.. or us. I used to think of as a community, but not anymore. BORG seems completely shut off from us, our needs and our ideas. It’s like a mini dictatorship. So sad.

  7. Anonymous permalink
    February 7, 2012 4:55 pm

    Thanks you for you expertise and insight. If only you were handling this crisis I think the community as a whole would not be as angry and frustrated as they are now.


    one ticketless burner to another

  8. Sunny permalink
    February 7, 2012 5:49 pm

    Amazingly, BMORG seems to need a PR person. Go for it Alyssa!

  9. Sunny permalink
    February 7, 2012 5:55 pm

    From the burning man website:

    Public Relations Manager Position Available
    Posted by Will Chase

    WHAT: Public Relations Manager position available

    WHERE: Burning Man office/San Francisco

    BY WHEN: Submit resume and cover letter by Sunday, January 22nd, through this link.

    Are you a veteran of the world of public relations and a proud citizen of Black Rock City? Have you longed for a PR role that lets you apply your communications chops and management expertise to something you’re passionate about – something just like Burning Man?

    Your dream could be a reality! Due to internal evolution and growth on our existing team, we are seeking an experienced Public Relations Manager to join the leadership of Burning Man’s Communications Department.

    This is a strategic, year-round, San Francisco-based role that will serve as the glue amongst the other communications staffers for the organization.

    The candidate will oversee the execution of Burning Man’s external communications strategies and provide budgetary, staff, and administrative oversight for Communications-related teams and programs, including:
    * Print Production
    * Public Relations/Media Operations/Social Media
    * Intellectual Property Enforcement
    * Print Press, Online Press, Film/Video, and Academic Archives
    * Burning Man Information Radio
    * The Black Rock City Census

    The PR Manager will also collaborate with the Government Relations leadership team to support activities engaging with community organizations, governmental collaborators, and other key entities in Nevada.

    The PR Manager role will have support from the vast volunteer team as well as existing communications team members within the organization.

    Other duties include management of the Media Mecca process and other volunteer teams leading up to, during and after the Burning Man event. Candidates must be prepared to perform full-time, active daily duties in the desert during the Burning Man event. This includes camping with and providing supervisory support for the Media Mecca leadership team as well as other relevant staff and volunteers.

    During the rest of the year, the PR Manager maintains relevant media, press, and academic relationships, and creates and advances Public Relations content and campaigns using tools such as the Jack Rabbit Speaks, Burning Blog, Facebook/Twitter/other social networks,, and print materials, and other public-facing communications channels.

    * 5-7yrs of experience in Communications, Public Relations, and/or Media industries, ideally including aspects of intellectual property law, contract law, the media/entertainment industries, festival/event production, and/or any combination thereof.
    * 3-5yrs of experience in management, including knowledge of reading financials, developing budgets, and human resources/personnel management.
    * Excellent communication chops, including strong writing, copy editing, and interpersonal communications skills.
    * High level of exposure to and comprehension of the Internet and related technologies.
    * Understanding and support of core Burning Man philosophies, in order to effectively uphold policies related to the maintenance of these philosophies.
    * At least 3-5yrs participating in Burning Man, preferably at some volunteer level or other exposure to its organizational infrastructure.
    * Ability to multitask, and be flexible and adaptable about numerous and frequently dynamic sets of priorities. Self-motivated. Able to effectively delegate responsibilities and negotiate effectively.
    * Dedication to organizational, legal, and interpersonal confidentiality in all applicable matters.

    * BA or equivalent in fields relating to Communications, Writing/Journalism, Media/Public Relations, or related fields.
    * Experience speaking as a liaison to the Press.
    * Experience supporting at a managerial level within a business organization.

    If you’re ready to put your hard-won skills and expertise to work for your community, we want to meet you! Submit resume and cover letter by Sunday, January 22nd, using this link.

    This is a full-time, regular position eligible for benefits in our San Francisco office.

  10. Alyssa Royse permalink
    February 7, 2012 6:00 pm

    🙂 I think that’s a compliment? Thank you. That would be a dream job for me. Except the San Fran part. I’m not leaving Seattle any time soon. Though I’m in SF often, and always happy to help.

  11. DukeLeto3 permalink
    February 7, 2012 8:03 pm

    As a former PR professional I couldn’t agree more. Keep it up!

  12. Alyssa Royse permalink
    February 7, 2012 8:06 pm

    Thanks Duke. You know I have it bad if I’m doing PR for fun. Like being a shower Rock Star. 🙂

  13. Melanie permalink
    February 7, 2012 8:28 pm

    Beautifully, brilliantly said. Now, if only… I will be hoping your words are heeded and action is taken to fix this mess. Thank you /:)

  14. February 7, 2012 8:48 pm

    Well said, Alyssa! I’ve only been to 3 burns, but even a newb like me can see that the SENSIBLE way to do this would be “First Come, First Served” NON-TRANSFERABLE tickets with NAMES (real names, not dumbass playa names like Sparkle McNumbNuts) PRINTED ON THEM!
    One thing that always drove me nuts was when I rolled up to the gates, after 9+hours on the road towing a trailer full of shit, and saw some idiot bimbo holding a sign: “I NEED A MIRACLE!” My response in past years was, “Really?! How about GET A JOB and BUY A TICKET like the rest of us!” (I hate working as much as the next hula-hooping sparkle pony, but I WORK TO PAY FOR MY FUN, and I bought my tix at Tier 3 in the pre-sale.) But this year I “lost” in the lottery, so…

    …I just might end up BEING that annoying idiot bimbo at the gate:


  15. Carla permalink
    February 7, 2012 8:54 pm

    If I need PR for anything, which is unlikely at present, I’d hire you in a second. You do an incredible job of naming the problems and offering workable solutions for everyone involved. May the parties involved – follow your lead!

  16. virgin burner this year - maybe permalink
    February 7, 2012 9:25 pm

    Very well said – if only they will listen

  17. February 7, 2012 10:28 pm

    I feel the pain of people who have been bummed out by the fact that they aren’t able to attend or think they may not get tickets. I also hear a lot of eff you and eff Bman on the chat rooms a other outlets and unfortunately I think a lot of these angry/angsty folks are showing their true colors. They have turned into belligerent a-holes over this fiasco(lets call it what it is). Bman is about being fluid amongst many other things and if longtime burners who are actually d-bags don’t get to make it this time maybe this will open it up to more newbies who in the long run may prove more worthy than some of the established well to do folks with a chip on their shoulder who really don’t belong at Bman at all anyway. This could be a blessing in disguise for everyone. We will survive. Exciting stuff!

  18. Anonymous permalink
    February 8, 2012 2:01 am

    alot of comments show the tru colors of how ppl are and how mad they hav become. but this is the only outcome that could hav come from this new lottery system. large camps are only getting tix for a fraction of the participants due to the new system. the events of BM are at risk which make the whole experience at risk. it is good to try something new, but if the masses see flaws before it even happen then u should take this into account and really listen to what we burners had to say from the moment of announcement. to not take responsibilty is a corporation corruption of ideas…burning man is not a is a family and communication is the key to keeping it alive…i will miss the burn this year, not because of tix but because of going out of country, but i will be back in years to come. i will miss all u burners, but i wish you all the best of burns even if the outcome of this years process of tix sales wasnt ideal.

  19. anon permalink
    February 8, 2012 4:24 am

    I guess the positive in this poorly written article is the creativity. I have yet to see someone ask for a job through a blog entry.

  20. dean jordan permalink
    February 8, 2012 4:49 am

    Your article, and suggested ways of reaching out are so very right on. So many of us have been saying that the org is insulated and isolated from us now, unable to even see how much work it is to build the city. Those of us that organize theme camps have to put our plans in early, hope against hope for good placement with enough room to breathe, then sweat out early arrival passes, all while making travel plans from the other side of the country(our camp, like many have peeps from all over), while juggling the changing plans of all of our members, raising the money to build the camp, get the time, come out, work harder than we do at anything else all year round, and we do that for one reason. Love.

    To then be given such a load of BS, after we told them, no, fix your servers, we got this, we don’t mind waiting in line, those of us with our sh*t together will get our tickets, and we’ll buy one or two extras for our fellow campers that are not as financially stable as the rest of us.

    What we couldn’t know, what we couldn’t expect, was finding our breaking limit. None of us realized how much we put up with until the load just became to much. 12 years, 10 in a theme camp. Love, love, love. Getting together with the rest of the camp as often as possible in spite of the distance. An amazing tribute to an amazing event.

    No apology, no insite, no solution, just wait, we got this.

    Well, actually, no, we got this. Even though we are counseling each other to wait, to see what they might do, and then choking on that half hearted apology from yesterday, many of us aren’t really interested in going back this year. Oh, we’ll go to the desert, we will set up camp, we know what to do. It just won’t be at Burning Man. They need a time out, a reset, a do over. Will it change it? Probably.

    It’s time. Our camp wants to know how much we’ve learned, and we see endless possibility with the desert setting for photography, art, and old school burning. Many of us quit going to the actual burn anyway. Most of us spend 10 days minimum on the playa each year. We have life long relationships with each other now. We love it, but you showed us the breaking point, the last straw place.

    Best of luck LLC. You got your dough in early, we wish you the best. We know it’s hard what you do, but you know, there are amazing people in this community, as this wonderful article shows (can not say enough about how perfect your tone is here Alyssa) but you would have to actually listen to hear.

    We know Burning Man will be fine, because our event is not the Org, it’s the community, and that is not just a saying a theme or an add slogan. It’s real and we feel it and live it in much of our lives.

    Please don’t hold anything that we say against us. Many of us have not spoken out because we fear what you might do to our camps in the future. So much so that i’m putting a disclaimer right here for all to see. I say this not as a representative of any camp, but as an individual burner.

    In dust we trust? In us, we trust!

  21. Anonymous permalink
    February 8, 2012 5:30 am

    All successful events have scalpers. The more success the higher the scalped tickets go. Yeah ! ! ! burning man for being successful )*(

    Your personal solution – start assembling a creative team to plan and write an Art Grant for 2013. There is nothing more rewarding then building an art installation at Burning Man.

    Not sure how to do that – message me and let’s talk more about you creative ideas.

    Oh, and have you heard about Top Secret?

    lightningboltwonder at gmail

  22. kyph33 permalink
    February 8, 2012 5:39 am

    ‘dialog’ should be ‘dialogue’ 🙂

    great article.

  23. Howie permalink
    February 8, 2012 6:12 am

    I find it so disheartening… A counter culture so far removed from reality that it is careless and fickle in the way it deals with what it sees as ‘vacationers.’ The caste system of this event rears its ugly head for all to see.

  24. Sparkle McNumbNuts permalink
    February 8, 2012 6:23 am

    I find this patently offensive

  25. Burning noob permalink
    February 8, 2012 6:31 am

    Well said. I’m a virgin to the whole Burning Man experience and realize that the new ticketing system is a way to give new people a CHANCE to buy a ticket. On the other hand, there is such a huge and loyal base that attends annually that they feel slighted. So for all the outrage this system has caused I think BMORG had good intentions but failed to serve their lifelong loyal constituents.

  26. Alyssa Royse permalink
    February 8, 2012 7:26 am

    It’s funny, Dean, I thought about not writing this for the same reason. I have many friends in the org and I was afraid of being black listed as well. That’s a sentiment that I’ve heard from others.

    In my experience from the last 24 hours, that is an unfounded fear. I have actually been very touched by responses that I’ve received from the trenches and continue to believe that this behavior, which looks like stonewalling, is really the rock hard face of fear, embarrassment, and a little bit of shame. As angry as we may be at the org, it it important to remember that they do love Burning Man as much as we do, and they know they may be watching it die also. Possibly at their hands.

    That said, how they turn it around is going to be very important. VERY important.

    And if this is the birth of a hundred baby burns, and lifelong Burner culture in smaller, tangible, more community-based artistic ways, then that’s awesome. After school art programs? Poor Theaters? And I know my boyfriend and I are looking for big land…….

  27. Anonymous permalink
    February 8, 2012 7:30 am

    let’s call burningman what it is “a festival/party.” its not even close to the idea of counter-culture. and yes i am an attendee. i hate the moniker of ‘burner’ way too one-dimensional.

  28. Alyssa Royse permalink
    February 8, 2012 7:38 am

    Nope. Don’t want that job. 😉 For a lot of reasons, not least is that if I ever go to the burn again, I don’t want to spend it working full-time.

  29. February 8, 2012 7:45 am

    You do know that there’s a PR position open at Burning Man, yes? You should apply!

  30. February 8, 2012 7:56 am

    Thank you, Ms. Royce, for your PR expertise… for speaking up and out!

    Great points!

  31. Anonymous permalink
    February 8, 2012 8:49 am

    So good. You captured exactly what I’m feeling — I have been resenting those “don’t panic, all is well” statements they’ve been making. It’s not like U2 tickets or Cirque Du Soliel tickets — burners feel personally burned and betrayed here, as hyperbolic as that sounds. I do. I am, as irrational as it is, taking my not getting tix personally. I can’t help it. It’s only b/c I love this event. I devote so much mental, physical and financial energy to the event each year, that I feel cheated by not getting tix. When you screw up, with a friend, a lover, or thousands of devoted people who build and populate BRC each year, own it and apologize.

  32. Nate permalink
    February 8, 2012 9:21 am

    Thank you so much for your insights Alyssa! Very well said.

  33. Christopher permalink
    February 8, 2012 9:24 am

    Personally I feel that that new system was funky…I like rewarding, and being rewarded for knowing that tickets will go on sale early, and getting a better price for having gone through that ringer a couple times, learning the game, instead of being put into some lottery, which, will definitely take out regular long-standing burners out of BM and put in new douchebags. This will definitely change BM. BM is so fun because of the people, art and experience. The people and the art ARE the experience. There can only be so many spectators and first-timers every year. If there are too many….it will be like spectators all showing up for a show that just isn’t there…because the family IS the show, and they’re all at Harbin cause they didn’t get tickets.

    However, now that it’s happened (cause it did happen), I also don’t see what else ‘they’ could or should do about the ticketing situation. I agree that they need to take some time, look at the numbers after the “dust has settled”. It’s a long time until the mam burns, and two weeks to ensure at least not making hasty decisions with a lack of numbers and ample feedback from the people is a good thing. While I do agree with and understand the idea for them to “own up” to this, I think that it’s a good idea for them to sit back for a bit, look at this, and then speak after a couple weeks has passed as they said. It’s not even Valentine’s Day and BM is in Summer… I know we’re all pissed (my gf and I didn’t get tickets either so we’re with you…and we met at BM!), but lets withdraw the finger-pointing for just a couple weeks at least before we lose our shit. Besides, this could have been any one of our mistake had we been in a position in which our actions effect the whole..but we’re not, we’re figuring out our own lives, making occassional bad decisions for it instead…it’s just that not many people (if anybody) is on the sidelines ready to tell you what you should have done, and what you should do now, to correct it, with the pressure of tens of thousands of angry hippies. Just sayin…

  34. February 8, 2012 9:26 am

    Well said. As a journalist who has covered Burning Man for many years, I’ve often been frustrated that the board always thinks it knows best rather than tapping the expertise of it community.

  35. K-Phunk permalink
    February 8, 2012 9:29 am

    Imagine what the MOOP map is going to look like this year……What is MOOP you ask?…Ahh.. you must have received a ticket!

  36. Jodi permalink
    February 8, 2012 9:30 am

    This was a fantastic article! Thank you for that! I am studying PR right now myself as a second career. I always have my first classes the week of BM so I haven’t been in a few years. But, as a student, I want to pass this article to my professors, as a “burner” I want to say thank you, and as a soon intern…Do you need any? I would love to learn from you! Cheers

  37. Anonny Mouse permalink
    February 8, 2012 9:38 am

    This post annoys me. Everyone has always had a CHANCE at getting a ticket. Even with last year’s sell out, people were still able to find tickets (and, no not just from scalpers). Of course vets feel slighted…because, in large part, it’s the vets that make the event. The noobs and sparkle ponies fill in the gaps. The BMORG doesn’t provide much for your ticket. Trust that. It’s the vets and their theme camps and their dedication to this event that has helped to make it what it is. So, Burning Noob…you’re noob is showing. And, no, I don’t consider myself a vet as I’ve only attended a few times (4 to be exact). I’ve never been a part of a theme camp but I sure have enjoyed them….and if it weren’t for those that know what to do out there (read: vets), I know for a fact my experiences would’ve been very different.

  38. Todd permalink
    February 8, 2012 9:41 am

    My belief is that the BM Org feels a bit betrayed by the community. They produced a plan to fairly distribute tickets through a lottery. The advantages they got from pre-registering (like doing data mining on the total registrant data to remove likely scalpers) appeared to be a means to make sure that there were few scalpers and lots of burners.

    But then the burners went back and gamed the system. By over-registering, then made it impossible for a fair distribution to happen. Possibly there would have been nearly enough tickets for everyone if no one had over-registered, but the natural tenancy when there is a lack of information and lots of uncertainty is to over-compensate. Thus I believe we had a significant number of burners hoarding registrations and ending up with excess tickets.

    If I were the Org, I would be feeling burned not by my failure, but by the community not trusting me in the first place. If I thought that less than 1,000 people were going to be shut out by the new system and that it gave me an upper hand on scalpers, I would be distraught that the community “ruined” this great plan.

    Until they get over their mistrust of the “brand users”, it is going to be a challenge to turn around and regain the trust that brand users used to have. But they do have to recognize that a in this shared failure (as I see it), the BM Org is still the only one with any power to fix the situation. And to get that fix accepted, they have to work the PR of the situation in much of the manner that Alyssa suggests.

    But while that is their responsibility, I suggest we remember that it was not the BM Org that gamed the system. It was scared individuals in the public that over-registered, gaming the system in a way that the Org would never see, effectively deciding to become a scalper themselves in order to guarantee that they were not in the (likely) 2% that would lose out on a ticket.

    I agree that tickets will eventually have to go to specific people and be non-transferable (but refundable). The Glastonbury Festival deals with 185,000 people camping at a five day event. Tickets are sold by lottery, up to eight per purchaser, but must be assigned to pre-registered names/photos.

    But Burning Man does have a community that depend on anonymity to enjoy this event to its fullest. Being forced to produce ID is a serious blow to participant privacy. I see no way around screwing these people over, however.

  39. Duncan T. Bee permalink
    February 8, 2012 9:53 am

    You have shown the BORG the way back. Someone, the other day presented an eminently sensible solution to the ticketing problem. If they can’t sort it out now then there is no hope. You’ve done a great job!

  40. Anonymous permalink
    February 8, 2012 10:02 am

    Alyssa, in case you were wonderful how you feel about not getting tickets, you might want to read the blog entry you just posted. It reveals all.

  41. Anonymous permalink
    February 8, 2012 10:17 am

    Not impressed by arguments that use false or contrived quotations. BM never stated “there’s no problem”, or “we got this”, they aren’t “pretending” this isnt a major deal. Quite the opposite. Most of your argument is based on (1) assumptions over the lottery (2) people upset over not getting tickets (3) that you could have done a better job without any real facts about what has happened.

    But I guess that’s more the world of public relations. Change the tone of the conversation to meet your needs even when you have false or give misleading information?

  42. brandon permalink
    February 8, 2012 10:22 am

    I got mine!

    And I am still pissed that this happened, seriously no one saw this coming?

  43. Peter S. permalink
    February 8, 2012 10:28 am

    Great article for everyone to read!! I think the mistake and distrust comes from the fact that Burning Man tried to create an “equal” playing field (lottery) for all to get tickets. This is a fallacy and it should certainly not be about equal. I am part of a mutant vehicle that costs tens of thousands of dollars every year to bring out to the playa, I used to buy tickets in the first tier in January religiously not to just save 100 bucks, but because I am in a constant pursuit of saving money throughout the year to make a $30,000 project happen. I spend all year fundraising for the car and in doing so, promoting Burning Man. Also within each camp that brings art there are really a core group who do a lions share of the work. Not everyone can or wants to do this! These people need tix, it’s as simple as that. Without them, big art cant happen. You need surgeons to do surgery, you need uniquely talented people to make the massive BM art. – I did not get a ticket but I am being patient with BMORG right now.

  44. dean jordan permalink
    February 8, 2012 10:31 am

    I don’t doubt for one second that everyone in the org, LLC, etc. love and respect the event. Still, and all, for us, it’s how it feels. As you’ve pointed out, that has to do with communication.

    It feels very one way at times. I’ve yet to meet anyone in the Org that I didn’t like. However, something weird happens every year. It’s hard to put your finger on it, but this lottery, response thing, helped us to see what it was. Logistics are tough for anyone, they are especially tough if you don’t even know if you can go, plus are asked to just wait. Some more.

    Now tons of people think the theme camps aren’t that big a deal. Fair. We might get a chance to find out this year, I don’t know. For me, whether you are in a theme camp, or just come every year, it’s whether or not you’ve worked building, helping, running, working at the event to make art or help make art that makes a burner. Oh, and yes, I’m a burner. Proud of it. Love our city, love our community, love what we do.

    Change is good they say.

    Thanks for your response, I have to say I can’t read the really negative ones.

    All the best, see you in the dust.

  45. Anonymous Burner permalink
    February 8, 2012 10:51 am

    Excellent post and advice! How funny you mentioned the BP disaster. I still boycott their brand. It would be a shame if the same happens to Burning Man.

  46. Cactus Inferno permalink
    February 8, 2012 10:53 am

    “So for every 1 comment you see, there are about 1,000 people who agree with it, but aren’t saying anything.”

    I’ve gotta question that ratio for Facebook posts. It might not be that *everybody* bitches on Facebook about *everything* that is bugging them, but I don’t think the old customer service 1:1000 ratio holds, either.

  47. MissNev permalink
    February 8, 2012 10:57 am

    This is wonderful and brilliant, and speaks to exactly the way I am feeling. Angry, distrustful, insignificant. I truly hope they see this and actually pay attention.

  48. SeaTeaPea permalink
    February 8, 2012 10:59 am

    “But then the burners went back and gamed the system. By over-registering, then made it impossible for a fair distribution to happen.”

    Burners did so _because_ they don’t trust the org or this ticket plan, plain and simple. And don’t forget that scalpers could, and did, register – and got tickets – and will be able to sell them. Burners realized this, and were worried about it.

    Who remembers the early-entry debacle? The one where we warned the org what would go wrong with their plan, and how we thought it could be done better? And did they listen? And was there a huge mess? And did they change it the following year to what we had suggested?

    full disclosure – I did not enter the lottery, so not complaining from that standpoint.

  49. ChaiG permalink
    February 8, 2012 11:00 am

    I think there will be plenty of tickets in August. The scalpers will be forced to sell them at or near face value because the people capable of spending $1500 for a single ticket are fairly limited. Also, many of the people that did get tickets now, will end up selling because their theme camp isn’t going this year or because their significant other did not get a ticket.

    What Burning Man really failed to realize is that the event actually happens NOW, people request their time off NOW, they build their theme camps, and art, and mutant vehicles NOW, they buy their booze on sale at Costco NOW. Without a ticket (or the assurance of being able to purchase one at a known price between now and July) means that those people, you know, the planners, the do-ers, the dream makers, are making other plans, and dreaming other dreams.

    At the end of the day, Burning Man is just a trash fence, and some porta-potties, and I think they’ve lost sight of that fact in the last few years, and that’s what got them into this situation more than anything else.

  50. Moose permalink
    February 8, 2012 11:00 am

    I am in public relations (7 year veteran) and also a burner. my status earlier this week noted:

    “What does Susan G Komen and Burning Man have in common? Sounds like a start to a really in appropriate joke, but there is a real answer: both turned their backs this week on their core purpose and long-time supporters and have done major short-term damage to their names. Let’s see how they both recover…”

    I’m glad I wasn’t alone in calling this one of the biggest PR disasters I’ve seen before.

    So far, Komen is in the lead having reversed their decision; communicated the reason for the decision; and made appropriate changes internally. Burning Man has said “chill” and not addressed any of my tweets, letters or plea for a more open process. They say trust us, but that is precisely what was lost in this process.

    I feel like I am Burning Man more than BMorg is… which is why I’m angry what they have done. They stole something from me that I was 100% positive toward and left me feeling scammed, left out and insecure. While Burning Man operates for one week outside of the default world… there are things (such as tickets) that must be handled taking into account real things such as scalpers, crowd mentality (everyone signing up for two) and economics of scarcity.

    The funny thing is that the community has provided great solutions to the problem! There have been great letters of hope! But until BMorg fixes the trust broken, sadly Burning Man is dead in the water. I’m going… one way or another… i’m just afraid of what I’ll find.

  51. Anonymous permalink
    February 8, 2012 11:01 am

    …there are still plenty of tiuckets out there and will continue to be all the way up to the day of the event…there will also be a resale process taking place on their website soon. Have a little patience and quit bitching, it’s only February.

  52. Moose permalink
    February 8, 2012 11:04 am

    And this is why you aren’t in PR.

  53. Todd permalink
    February 8, 2012 11:06 am

    It may not be fair, but a more open process enables scalpers to adjust they systems for acquiring tickets.

    When it comes to the ticket sales process, it does not do the public a service to give total transparency if that results in 90% of the tickets being bought by scalping agencies, in my opinion.

    Sort of a damned-it-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t situation when it comes to transparency.

  54. Todd permalink
    February 8, 2012 11:07 am

    At least they did not go with the other system that locks out scalpers: Ticket sales at the gate only.

  55. SeaTeaPea permalink
    February 8, 2012 11:09 am

    Oh, calm down, Sparkle. You’ll find your miracle, just like every year. ;-*

  56. Alyssa Royse permalink
    February 8, 2012 11:10 am

    I’m not 100% sure on that either, but it’s still a useful thought in terms of realizing that what you hear and see is usually only the tip of the ice berg.

    I don’t think it’s far off in terms of the Burning Man Facebook page…. there are 26,000 members of the page, and the majority of the comments are made by, really, about 40 people.

    I dunno either…..

  57. Todd permalink
    February 8, 2012 11:13 am

    Thank you for agreeing with me that the Burners acted as hoarders because of uncertainty and lack of information.

    I do know that scalpers were deleted from the registrant database before the ticketing process began. And I do agree with the org’s apparent belief that data mining the registrant pool would stop more scalpers than real-time filtering on a first-come, first-serve system.

    But I do not know what this “early-entry debacle” is? Details or links?

  58. SeaTeaPea permalink
    February 8, 2012 11:15 am

    Hey Anonymous – those contrived quotations are EXACTLY what I have “heard”, even though they are not direct quotations. In a quick informal poll of my friends, this was unanimous.

  59. Lion Tamer permalink
    February 8, 2012 11:20 am

    Thank you for that thoughtful response. Too late to close the stable doors. We patiently wait to see how the BMORG responds to this. If I had a PR fiasco, I’d hire you. It’s certainly worth re-posting.

  60. Moose permalink
    February 8, 2012 11:25 am

    My best hope is that they turn ALL tickets into non-transferable with deadline to submit name or else ticket is void. That way, they would make way off StubHub, etc. early enough for everyone to keep plans moving. That would prevent this long drawn out process that is decimating camps and the art.

  61. Anonymous permalink
    February 8, 2012 11:26 am

    PR is for the most part making a big deal about nothing.

  62. Anonymous permalink
    February 8, 2012 11:28 am

    Hands down the best view Ive read yet in all of this. I will share this as well, exactly how I am feeling. Thank you!

  63. NoxiousNan permalink
    February 8, 2012 11:31 am

    I think placing blame on participants for gaming the system is just wrong. The LLC should take such an obvious outcome under consideration before they make such a drastic change. They are a business. They are a brand. But they are also unique, and to think that members of theme camps wouldn’t try to assure that the theme camps would be able to procure the tickets they need to show is ridiculous. I don’t even see it as gaming the system since they need the tickets anyway…if they want to have their theme camp out there. To their minds they do need the tickets. How is that gaming?

  64. Todd permalink
    February 8, 2012 11:32 am

    How does that work? Some people bought four (in the December pre-sale), others bought two (in the lottery) and others ended up with multiples that they acquired by having friends and family register for tickets and use their own cards.

    I’m not saying you are wrong, but your idea is incomplete and fails to address significant procedural issues.

    Also, is the Gate now supposed to check the ID of each entrant? What about minors that may not have ID?

    As for Stubhub; did you know that they had tickets posted there starting in December, before the pre-sale tickets even happened? Many of those ticket posts are without actual tickets to back them up.

  65. SeaTeaPea permalink
    February 8, 2012 11:32 am

    Trouble is “known scalpers” were removed. What does that mean? How is that even possible? If I entered with the name “StubHub McEbay” then I guess that makes sense. What if someone legit was removed and never told? What if hundreds of legit buyers were removed? And if scalpers *were* removed then how come the very day the lottery emails went out there were tickets for sale on ebay and stubhub? Scalpers exist, they always will, so any plan that relies on going after them will often fail. A plan to actually, somehow, exclude them stands a better chance. I want to stress the “actually” there.

    I don’t remember the year, but the first year early-entry system was set up so that the passes had to have the early entrant’s name on them – trouble was with big theme camps, and big art installations, many of us had no way of knowing who would need the passes by the deadline to submit them…and it was a huge mess. The following year they used a nameless barcode system (and have ever since) which is what we were all suggesting in the first place. We all felt very un-listened to…very very very.

    In response to another post further down about the lottery giving newbies a chance to get tickets…uhhhh, newbies have always had an equal chance at tickets, and always managed to get them just fine. It’s not like there was an application process or anything.

  66. NoxiousNan permalink
    February 8, 2012 11:35 am

    You have said everything I’ve said and more, and much more diplomatically than I’ve said it. Thank you so much.

    Also, you’re right about Khomen. While I was very pleased to hear about Handel leaving, it was no longer sufficient enough for me to resume charitable donations. I’ve learned too much now. There are better avenues for giving.

    I’d also note that Netflix saved my business, and probably that of many others, by admitting and fixing their error. I hope Burning Man people take a cue from them.

  67. Anonymous permalink
    February 8, 2012 11:39 am

    Great article! Yesterday’s Jackrabbit Speaks (BM newsletter) seemed to indicate that the BMORG does now recognize that they do have a huge problem. Mostly because they have been having conversations with the oldest and largest of camps who are reporting that they received via the lottery less than 20% of the tickets that they need to be able to even commit to planning and taking a camp. It was unclear from the article what exactly they are planning on doing about that, but we can only hope that they find a solution soon so that camps do have time to figure out their plans. While I was taking a year off this year anyway it is very sad to see such a high percentage of our local (Boise, Idaho) burners who did not get tickets via the lottery despite being willing to buy the highest teir.

  68. Elaine permalink
    February 8, 2012 11:39 am

    Sparkle McNumbNuts–Thank you for the best laugh I’ve had since this whole lottery thing started.

    Please…let me smooch you…


  69. Todd permalink
    February 8, 2012 11:41 am

    Actually, there were tickets on Stubhub starting in December, before the pre-sale drawing.

    As for what would signal to BM that entrants were a scalper? They are never going to say, since this makes it possible for a scalper to avoid. But some things could include (once data mined) blocks of consecutive PO boxes, consecutive CC numbers, corporate credit cards (if the bank fulfills the info request to identify the card as corporate; that takes time), and other factors that signal industrial scalpers. But these things are not something that is visible in first-come, first-served sales.

    To actually prevent scalpers, tickets could be sold at the gate. That would suck. Other systems present other burdens, like non-transferable tickets and dealing with refunds and resale, right up until the event is over.

  70. Moose permalink
    February 8, 2012 11:42 am

    Are you saying that all the art and theme camps that are in limbo or deciding to attend regional burner events is not a big deal? Most people that are really involved in BM are laying down money now for an event that they might not be able to attend. So obviously given the 4000+ people that signed a petition and stories in SF newspaper about this debacle (and my restless nights) that this IS a big deal.

    Out of all the theme camps, most are at about 30%-40% of people with tickets. 40,000 of the 50,000 tickets have been distributed (and lets assume that 10,000 of those will go back into circulation from duplicate purposes). That leaves 20,000 tickets left to fill the 60-70% of regular burning man attendees that didn’t get tickets (regular attendance is 50,000…) so conservative guess is that there is need for at least 30-35k more tickets.

    Unless this is dealt with- we should expect 50% of the people without tickets will not get one. THAT is a problem.

  71. NoxiousNan permalink
    February 8, 2012 11:45 am

    If you’re going to disagree, please at least give your reasons.

    This blindly apologetic, irrelevant rhetoric could not get more redundant and boring. And it’s not even a tiny bit persuasive – you’ve offered nothing except to try and silence people with whom you don’t agree.

  72. Elaine permalink
    February 8, 2012 11:45 am

    I have never felt so much pain in my Burner community. It aches. All over.

    I feel guilty that I have my ticket already that I earned last year by volunteering. Almost ashamed.

    I applied for the PR position in SF because my local community basically pushed me to apply. After the ticketing process, they want to protect me and hope that I don’t get it.

    Frankly, I don’t know how they are going to recover. Owning their mistakes is huge start. And thank you for having the courage to say it out loud.


  73. Todd permalink
    February 8, 2012 11:46 am

    Your math is saying that the event went from 50K last year to 85K would be people this year.

    Surely a theme camp would be aware that growing from 20 people last year to 34 people this year (same proportions) is going to be an issue that BMORG cannot resolve.

  74. sabbylou permalink
    February 8, 2012 11:46 am

    Great article! That said, I really believe that the community that is Burning Man shall thrive outside of this one festival. There are already plans in the works for many, many regionals. Spreading the philosophy and principles of creating the space that we do each year, does not have to be limited to the playa. Supply vs. Demand is the real issue here… No matter what, only a certain number of people may go. I agree that having an id assigned to each ticket sold is a great solution… no reason it can’t still be done that way.

  75. Moose permalink
    February 8, 2012 11:50 am

    For everyone that bought tickets for 2-4 people- those just need names assigned to them now. It’s just a matter of getting any name on the tickets to start with. If people can’t go, they must change name on tickets by going through the STEP program and selling at face value. They would be non transferable without going through STEP.

    As for the ID, I am asked at every bar at Burning Man for an ID. If that what it takes to go, I’d show ID at entrance as well.

    Some Stub Hub tickets say VIP unlimited food, drink, etc. Totally fake. Others are very real. There is no way that 70% of people didn’t get tickets without having scalpers involved.

  76. Sprocket permalink
    February 8, 2012 11:51 am

    Excellent article Alyssa! It’s people like you that make the event so wonderful. Unfortunately, you and people like you don’t have tickets this year. I hope we can somehow make it to the playa.

  77. the sad reality permalink
    February 8, 2012 11:58 am

    Majority of people outside the west coast of the US hadn’t even heard of BM 2-3 years ago, the bottom line is, this event has ballooned significantly in Worldwide attention and popularity the last few years. I think the frequent, long time burners just need to accept the fact that BM is no longer a semi-underground event. EVERYONE in the World who has seen a picture of it and has ever touched an E pill wants to go to this festival now.

    Do you really want to see the cast of the Jersey Shore (and the like) walking around the playa anyways? Time for smaller ones to sprout up. There is LOTS of desert and LOTS of artists out there. 😉

  78. NoxiousNan permalink
    February 8, 2012 12:00 pm

    Yeah, I started doing that a few years back. Now though, it’s time that Burning Man faces that fact.

  79. blackshirt permalink
    February 8, 2012 12:09 pm

    We’re not scared to lose it all
    Security throw through the wall
    Future dreams we have to realize
    A thousand skeptic hands
    Won’t keep us from the things we plan
    Unless we’re clinging to the things we prize

    And do you feel scared – I do
    But I won’t stop and falter
    And if we threw it all away
    Things can only get better

  80. NoxiousNan permalink
    February 8, 2012 12:18 pm

    Get is just advancing a straw man b-noob, though there has been cussing sure enough. I’ve been going since 1995 and virgins are a huge part of the event. I’ve had a theme camp since 98 and we always recruit virgins, they are beloved. Last year virgins represented 60% of our camp.

    The reason vets are bitching loudest is because theme camps are most often organized by vets. a 100% virgin theme camp might not bitch at least until they experience the huge burden now placed on them by Burning Man. Theme camps begin planning and money spending early, often before the year is out.

    As a virgin, maybe you can tell us how you experienced the lottery, because I suspect it will be harder. Would you be able to make the March sale if you heard about Burning Man today and decided to go?

  81. NoxiousNan permalink
    February 8, 2012 12:20 pm

    I wonder if this is a recently vacated spot….hmmmmm.

  82. Anonymous permalink
    February 8, 2012 12:22 pm

    SeaTeaPea: people are reacting on how they feel, placing blaming blame without proper analysis. I don’t think every decision was perfect, but BM has simply not acted in the abusive manner or the attitude suggested here. To assume as much really just panders to feelings over facts, and does not make this article or your friends correct.

  83. February 8, 2012 12:31 pm

    Beautifully said. I hope that BMOrg takes notice — and better yet — actually adopts your approach, including the lovely press release you’ve written for them. =c)

  84. Todd permalink
    February 8, 2012 12:38 pm

    I agree it is wrong.

    I’m just saying that people are involved on both ends and those in the office will need to quash this (alleged) feeling of being burned in order to act.

    Gaming the system is getting your friends and family who do not intend to go to also register an address and credit card, thus making more entries in the system than there are actual participants.

  85. February 8, 2012 12:39 pm

    Great! I wish you could be apart of the Burning Man PR group. You’re much better then they have been this year.

  86. Todd permalink
    February 8, 2012 12:40 pm

    No, the job posting was listed before the ticket sales were processed. Apparently Andie Grace made the decision to retire sometime after the event this year.

  87. February 8, 2012 12:45 pm

    Can a brotha get a mentor? Love the blog, love the opinion; you obviously did your job. As a young kid on the PR path to middle-class I’m glad to read a bit of myself in someone else who is in places I want to be.

  88. Cactus Inferno permalink
    February 8, 2012 12:46 pm

    Ah, I see. If you limit that to just BM’s public Facebook page, I can see that more easily. But among a couple hundred local burner friends, I’ve seen at least a few dozen complaining on their own or friends’ FB, LJ, or the regional burner chat list.

  89. touchthesun permalink
    February 8, 2012 12:46 pm

    Beautifully said. I’m staff for the event, though far too low on the totem pole to have any say in the current debacle. For what it’s worth, I hope the BORG listens to you.

  90. Anonymous permalink
    February 8, 2012 12:47 pm

    She’s not arguing much.
    She’s stating an opinion based on years of PR experience.

    (I’d hire the shit out of you in a second, btw.)

  91. February 8, 2012 12:48 pm

    “At the end of the day, Burning Man is just a trash fence, and some porta-potties…”

    They’re more than that. They’re also a permit from the BLM that says, “You folks can camp here.” And that permit has a number on it. And that number is 50,000. And that number is the heart and soul of the problem that Burning Man faces, and there’s not a hell of a lot that can be done about it.

    That’s what galls me about the original article. You can’t satisfy the demand for 60,000 tickets when you only have 50,000 tickets. No amount of “listening on Facebook” is going to change the fact that not everybody who wants a ticket will get one. The only solution is to make sure that “the right people” get tickets.

    But who are “the right people?” Beyond “not scalpers,” which the current system seems pretty well designed to solve, there just isn’t any way. Well, maybe they can shoot one of those pet tracking chips in every Burner’s neck as they enter.

    Look at all the people in the comments who are claiming that they should have special access to the tickets. “I’ve been burning for decades!” “It’s my first time!” “My camp hands out alcohol!” “I’m bringing an art car!”

    How are you supposed to weigh and value all those bits of information? It’s a tough judgment call, but it can be done. The real challenge is *collecting* all that information, then verifying that Mambo Red really did bring an art car, or that Glitter Girl really is manning the bar shifts that she claimed. This way lies bureaucracy, folks.

    Can you imagine how much longer the lines would get if, for every car that came in, they didn’t just count tickets and count heads, but actually matched each person to a name-bearing ticket and to a photo ID? You’d have to get there on Wednesday to make it in the door by Friday.

    Yes, the whole situation is frustrating. That (plus the intersection of higher ticket prices and unemployment) is why my contribution to Burning Man this year will be my absence.

  92. aaron decapua permalink
    February 8, 2012 12:48 pm

    OMG you are good, your very very very good!
    I havn’t read PR advice like that EVER! I’m going to save your post, and print it out! There is soo much here that is awesome! They need to hire you, Hire you NOW!
    ……………..Still blown away……. your words…. pure genius!

  93. Brother John permalink
    February 8, 2012 12:48 pm

    Alyssa, I really appreciate many of your points. My reaction to the situation was opposite that of many others: I was embarrassed that so many supposedly resourceful, seasoned problem-solvers immediately went so negative. But then, as a marketer myself, I realized that Burning Man is asking for emotional engagement in their event–no surprise that people will react so emotionally. BMORG needed to manage communication and emotion much more effectively; they needed a PR crisis manager involved very early on, and it appears that didn’t happen. You nailed that, and explained that need very well.

    But I was also disappointed in a lot of what you wrote. Your post would have been more resonant, constructive and accurate if you stuck to what you, the PR expert, can know from the outside. As far as I can tell, you have no ticketing or event management background, or a direct line into BMORG’s ticketing team. So why are you comfortable stating that they didn’t listen to the community, didn’t think this through, fucked up, and so on? You may be right–but I think you’re not, and I think you are making assumptions. Assumptions like these are making the problem worse by inflaming the conversation.

    I have some ticketing experience, and the solutions I saw proposed by the community have all been tried elsewhere. They’re complicated; they have big trade-offs; and they will affect the event in other negative ways. As far as I can see, the approach BMORG tried is a balance among evils. I’ve done a lot of volunteer work with BMORG over the years. They don’t make decisions without a great deal of discussion. In short: this was no accident. It looks more like a calculated risk which failed.

  94. February 8, 2012 12:51 pm

    I’ve been rather detached from the chaos, seeing as I made the decision last year not to attend the 2012 burn. However, it really makes me sad that things are this bad. If these issues are not resolved (ie, main theme camps not getting their tickets), I wonder how that will shape this year’s burn.

  95. Mary permalink
    February 8, 2012 12:51 pm

    This is the A number one, very best commentary on the ticket situation that I have seen! Bravo, and I hope BMorg reads it and takes it to heart. Have you sent it directly to them?

  96. Nathan permalink
    February 8, 2012 12:52 pm

    Burning Man lost all credibility or greatness the moment people needed to spend $200 for a ticket that gave them permission to go camp in the middle of the desert, in the middle of August and risk heatstroke in the name of Art and Creating a Unique Space. You don’t need a ticket to do this, you can do this with a large group of friends at any time you want.

  97. Anonymous permalink
    February 8, 2012 12:55 pm

    …and many burners refuse to ever interact with Facebook.

  98. February 8, 2012 1:01 pm

    I appreciate your contributions, and I pray you get your ticket. But I’m wondering what system you would propose to ensure that people who (work hard / fund big art / make the big contributions) get the tickets? I mean, in order for BMorg to do anything with that information, they first have to have it, which means systems for collecting information and making distinctions between… um… participants and spectators?

    Uh oh.

    Maybe they could do something with sufficient social networking information, but it seems like a long shot.

    I think what we’re seeing is simple economics. Scalpers can’t be effective until an event sells out (or official sales close). It’s always been the case that Burning Man could print enough tickets to satisfy every Burner who wanted in the door. Last year, that changed. When demand hits the limits of supply, you always get price volatility, shortages, and other assorted messiness.

    Welcome to the new normal.

    [Note: Three time burner, not affiliated with BMorg, not seeking a ticket this year. Element 11, here I come!]

  99. February 8, 2012 1:07 pm

    Great job on this and thanks so much for being a pro speaking frankly and realistically about these issues. Just today I got an e-mail from JRS with a letter of apology from Marian Goodell. So nice to read. It really does begin to mend things when a group-even a single person-has the courage to own a mistake. This was done and it was a great start. I hope their next step involves direct communication with Burners up, down, left, right, and across the seas. There is a pool of knowledge in the community at large that could offer real solutions to the problems faced here. I hope they recognize that.

  100. Core Burner who lost in the lottery but got a ticket through a camp-mate permalink
    February 8, 2012 1:09 pm

    I just had this (perhaps naive) thought that it might be nice if the BM Community could get started offering up the extra tickets that they DO have, specifically towards enabling the big theme camps to get the tickets they need in order to commit. It might be a good idea for the community to make this a priority over, say, newbies.

  101. Commander Gaijin permalink
    February 8, 2012 1:09 pm

    after 14 years out there myself, i also find that the make-up of any individual “theme camp” changes year to year. virgins cycle in, vets cycle out, the name might stay the same, or the whole theme camp itself might disappear after a few years in a row. there’s very few theme camps that survive more than a few years before splintering into both smaller and larger elements.

    …in a playa-timescale sense, this ticketing experiment with Genetically Modified Fertility just sped up the normal chaos cycle by a factor out of anyone’s control.

  102. February 8, 2012 1:15 pm

    I would never complain about ticket price as long it stayed reasonable. I think anywhere from $200-320 is reasonable for the amazing experience you can get out of Burning Man. I think Burning Man should have taken a cue from similar situations from other big festivals like Glastonbury. At Glastonbury, you have to upload a picture when purchasing a ticket. This registers every ticket to a person. They cannot be exchanged or transfered person to person. You are welcome to return them up to a point for a refund or transfer via the company.

    I love Burning Man, and everything it is about. I think they made some serious errors on this years ticketing system. I asked for 1 ticket at a top price of $320, and I was not selected. A lot of core Burners that I know did not get tickets either, so I don’t feel as bad.

    Last year it was not until around late June or July that people really started encountering problems getting tickets. This year it started as early as December. The scalpers are there for any opportunity to make money. The fundamentals behind Burning Man are definitely not money related.

    Hopefully this will get sorted out, and loyal core Burners like myself will be on the Playa in 2012!


  103. February 8, 2012 1:20 pm

    It’s one thing to talk in glittering generalities of the “expertise of the community.” It’s a whole ‘nuther thing to actually give concrete, actionable proposals for handling ticket distribution.

    Honestly, can somebody point me to some of these magical proposals that somehow manage to:

    * ensure that the people who “do the work” / “bring the art” get in
    * ensure that people can’t just get in by pinky swearing that they’ll do some work or bring some art
    * keep tickets out of the hands of scalpers
    * don’t punish newbies
    * limit ticket sales to 50,000
    * don’t price struggling burners out of the market
    * keep the people who don’t get tickets from throwing a hissy fit

    I don’t think they exist.

    One solution is for BMorg to fight the BLM tooth and nail to jack the number of ticket slots to 70,000 or so. And at that point, it starts to get a bit crowded for my taste.

    Another solution is to start running two burns a year. Note that this second solution highlights the problems with “the expertise of the community.” I have no idea what it would take, but I’ll bet anyone in BMorg could rattle off a thousand reasons why that can’t happen. It may be wildly impractical, but at least a substantial minority of the community would look at it and say, “Hmm, seems legit.”

  104. Brother John permalink
    February 8, 2012 1:32 pm

    …Or, you know, let other people who haven’t been to the event go. Something which I find disappointing about the veteran reaction is the underlying rejection of last year’s lesson: demand exceeds supply. What will we, as a community, do in a time of scarcity? My vote: think carefully about whether we need to go for a fifth or tenth year, when new people would love to come.

    Hell, as veterans *we’re* the ones best equipped to start a regional, or throw our own event. Let the new people get indoctrinated. 😉

  105. Todd permalink
    February 8, 2012 1:48 pm

    Have you seen Trilo’s take on the ticket situation?

    He points out that it is possible that interest in the event really did double over the last year, thus the lottery worked exactly as planned, but long-time burners and theme camps are blaming the Org for something that is not their fault and completely unpredictable.

    He also addresses some of the problems with various ticketing schemes, including the idea of mirroring Glastonbury’s process.

  106. February 8, 2012 1:52 pm

    I understand that many people from the burner community are pissed off because they haven’t got tickets, but I don’t see the point how first-come-first-served system is any better, especially against scalpers. Actually, there will be another chance to buy tickets in the end of March, so why do people react as if the sale is over?
    I think random selection is one of the best solutions for an event that is so popular.

  107. NoxiousNan permalink
    February 8, 2012 2:02 pm

    Well okay then, perhaps you could speculate as to why, when it would so clearly have a significant negative impact on theme camps, they were so unresponsive prior to the actual registration?

    My sense as a ticketing layman is that the most popular idea would be names tied to tickets, and that anyone in the ticket selling world seems to think it would be a nightmare. I can accept that; I’ll bow to their expertise. But what is acceptable about or even considered about the silence of the LLC about the very real, financially costly consequences to theme camps?

  108. looneypants permalink
    February 8, 2012 2:10 pm

    looks like they’re already on step 1. from the Jackrabbit Speaks:


    (This message comes to you from Marian Goodell, a Founding Board Member of Black Rock City LLC, and Burning Man’s Director of Business and Communications.)

    Participants, friends, Burners, community:

    The Burning Man organization recognizes that the ticket registration and random drawing process has caused many participants frustration and concern over whether they can attend the event this year.

    A team of Burning Man staff and organizers, who have been working on the ticketing process since August 2011, met Thursday to review what happened and what can be done moving forward.

    The organization is looking at short term fixes and long term solutions to improve the ticketing process to make it work as well as possible for as many people as possible.

    Following phone conversations with major theme camp and art group organizers, we determined that only 20%-25% of the key people needed to bring those projects to the playa had received notifications for tickets. A number of people also told us they’d used multiple credit cards and asked friends to register for them as a way to increase their chances of getting tickets. Those who received more tickets than they need said they are considering how to redistribute them.

    We believe we need two weeks to let the dust settle to see how much redistribution happens. Even with that redistribution we know that key people and projects may not get confirmations in time to move forward with their plans. We are looking at options to keep that from happening.

    Burning Man’s most important priority is to make sure the community stays intact in the face of the current challenges. Combining what we learned from the phone conversations and what we’ve heard from the Burner community, we’ve come up with some ideas to address the short term issues. We will continue to gather information and listen to your feedback as we work towards announcing our plans within two weeks.

    In the meantime we urge our community not to buy from scalpers or from large resale sites. We will have the Secure Ticket Exchange Program (STEP) activated on February 22. This is the most secure and hassle free way to enter the re-sale system. Please use it.

    Those registrants who received rejection letters should keep an eye on your email as information about STEP and any other options will be made to you first.

    Not everyone who wants a ticket this year will get one, that is clear — the demand clearly exceeds supply. But we are going to do everything we can in the coming days to ensure that we preserve and respect the community that supports and creates this event both in the short term and long term.

    We will be reaching out to you and working with you to make that happen. We recognize that we have work to do to repair the faith in the organization. We are very sorry for the frustration, anxiety and deep disappointment this year’s ticketing experience has caused for so many citizens of Black Rock City.


    All of us here at the Burning Man Organization

  109. February 8, 2012 2:20 pm

    Wow, did a Burner just chime in to say, “Get a job, you dirty hippie?”

  110. Brother John permalink
    February 8, 2012 2:31 pm

    This is a scarcity problem. When demand outstrips supply we (as a community) can do a few things. (1) Prioritize theme camps, or artists, or conclaves, or event volunteers, or whomever we decide is critical to the event we want. Determine the minimum number of tix they need to get off the ground. Sell the rest to everyone else. Explain to them, in general terms, that participants are given first-shot at tix. Struggle with hundreds of hours of conversation about a class system.

    (2) Use the current system in place. Anything entity which requires critical mass to succeed offers an internal ticket trading program and a scholarship program. Buy in the initial fixed price sale, register for the lower-priced tix, buy again in the final fixed price sale. Sell extras on STEP.

    BMORG needed more transparency and certainly a quicker response to this situation. But what I’ve disliked about much of the online dialogue–including Alyssa’s article–is this idea that all responsibility and all solutions (as well as all communication) should be shaped and delivered by BMORG. Personally, I think it’s incumbent upon me to solve a lot of these issues for myself–including finding my own ticket, and taking some of the burden of crisis management by working to turn conversations positive and practical.

  111. Anonymous permalink
    February 8, 2012 2:32 pm

    Absolutely correct.
    Pointing the finger of blame back at Burners for a flawed system is insulting.
    It would be similar to moving into a new home with sub standard wiring not up to code. You plug in your microwave and toaster causing a short, and the house burns down.
    The builder comes back to blame you for flipping the switch and causing the fire.
    “Warning! This dwelling subject to disaster if more then one appliance used at the same time.”
    Another example of damage control by deflecting responsibility.

  112. The Princess of Ohh La La permalink
    February 8, 2012 2:39 pm

    Perfectly written! You need to don your best Wonder Woman underoos and plUnk yourself at BMORG’s front door and help.

  113. jockamo Feenahey permalink
    February 8, 2012 2:39 pm

    Right on, Great Perspective.

    Yet kind of like a big championship sporting event, lots more people want to go then there are tickets available. It’s too bad that we are so awesome that people want to come & join in our reindeer games.

    Technically speaking as of now, there are still 14,000 tickets remaining, Unsold, Which is roughly 1 quarter of the total available tickets for this year’s event.

    They are also so many people that padded their odds of receiving it take it, that technically there should be 7 extra tickets for every 10 ticket holders. It is time for that radical self reliance to kick in & Get Some! (Tickets)

    Let’s continue to dialog and get some great solutions out there Integrated into the current situation.


  114. Brother John permalink
    February 8, 2012 2:40 pm

    Sigh. “Obvious” because you’ve had a lot of experience in ticketing, and understand all of the variables BMORG is trying to solve for? Or obvious because you have no experience, so this looks easy-to-do? No, I don’t work for the ORG, but I have enough of a sense of the problem to see that this isn’t obvious at all.

  115. Bleurose Jon permalink
    February 8, 2012 2:43 pm

    I will reply here but this is also a comment on Alyssa’s post. I thought what she wrote was remarkable but fell short on just one point. The missing thing is DATA. One way the BMORG could restore confidence is to stop the silly “our private info” nonsense especially on something which is MOSTLY already known. In the first paragraph that Alyssa wrote for them, they should include the statement “we thought we were going to sell 40,000 tickets and maybe have 50,000 requests, and we ended up having to process ???????? ticket requests, far more than we expected.” This very small but essential piece of data would help us all better understand what they were up against. And I see NO valid reason (other than the simple desire to keep something a secret) that they any longer believe it is in their best interests to maintain confidentiality on that. Why? it just adds to the belief that they have something to hide. For instance, if we found out that 500,000 tickets have been ordered, I think we would all KNOW that scalpers were involved (there is no way demand went up in one year by a factor of 10). If it was 150,000, that is a different situation, and even if it is only 75,000 (although given the numebrs of people who didn’t get tickets in my known universe, I think it is much more likely that the number is HIGHER and not LOWER). But the point is, I don’t know because I have no data. Everything starts with the facts and BM has done the worst thing that you can ever do in a crisis which is to hide the important facts. As Alyssa mentioned about the lovers’ breakup, the bold-faced lie OR the cover-up are the two things that will destroy any relationship of any kind.

  116. Brother John permalink
    February 8, 2012 2:46 pm

    Um. If you think that BMORG is “building a house” for you, or even building an event for you to buy and consume, may I suggest you might be missing the point? The event is thrown by a non-profit, and the attendees are responsible for almost everything except major civil infrastructure, which could fail. If that annoys you, you’re going to have a lot more indignation in your future. In the meantime, can I suggest buying presale tix next year, since you like something more guaranteed?

  117. Todd permalink
    February 8, 2012 2:50 pm

    Well, unless this is like plugging all of your electronic devices into one perfectly functional outlet and turning them on all at once.

    Metaphors are tricky things, especially when we actually don’t know the real reason that the tickets sales failed to meet the demand.

    Is it that the interest in Burning Man doubled this year?
    Did people hoard ticket registrations?
    Did scalpers get around the precautions?
    Something else?

    The official communication from Burning Man did not place blame on anyone; although clearly failing to take the blame gives the impression to many that the org blames the participants.

  118. Brother John permalink
    February 8, 2012 2:53 pm

    I’m totally in agreement about more transparency, because that’s a key tenant of PR crisis management. But I don’t have an opinion on what should or should not be shared, because I’ve never worked tickets for a major event, and gone to war against major scalpers. The data you’re suggesting would be very useful if I was a scalper who wanted to accurately estimate demand, and therefore model what resources I would commit to buying tickets at a particular price points. In short: what you’re proposing could make the problem much, much worse. We don’t know.

  119. Todd permalink
    February 8, 2012 2:57 pm

    Where do you get that 14K number?

    My count is (Out of 53K allowed): 3K in the December pre-sale, 40K in the main ticket lottery, 10K in the remaining FCFS sale in March.

    That would be 18.86% remaining.

  120. Bleurose Jon permalink
    February 8, 2012 3:01 pm

    Todd, NONE of the tickets for sale have “actual tickets” to back them up because nothing has been distributed. To give quick answers, YES they should tie names to tickets and even better, pictures to tickets. But only ONE picture/name for a group of tickets needs to be submitted, the other tickets in the group can arrive with the original ID’ed ticket holder. That still prevents scalping (or drastically reduces it) because scalpers just don’t GO to events like BM, they just profiteer off of them. So it isn’t quite as draconian as it seems. And yes, they check at the gate. Hey, they search every car and truck and that can take sometimes 5-10 minutes. Are you saying that they couldn’t do a 15 second comparison of pictures or IDs? C’mon, that is just silly (as I have felt ever since they said it would “add to the gate burden unacceptably). Its not perfect and yes some people might “slip by” but if they take that chance and lose, hey that’s their problem. But if you at least put that process into place, most people will think twice about showing up with scalped tickets.

  121. truelove permalink
    February 8, 2012 3:05 pm

    What I am told is that professional scalpers have hundreds of REAL people at their beck and call with their own credit cards in their own names who get a small rake off for each ticket they successfully acquire on behalf of the scalper (who by assuming the risk obviously makes a much bigger %)

    Unless all the scalper’s outriders are located in Smalltown Nowheresville, and are all cousins with the same surname this totally avoids any successful data mining.

    These people are running full time professional businesses with tickets for gigs and ball games and even the opera, and no professional is going to have anything as easy to spot as credit cards with consecutive PO Box addresses or multiple cards in the same name etc

  122. Brother John permalink
    February 8, 2012 3:05 pm

    Not accurate. Remember that any ticket which didn’t sell in the 40k round are rolled into the next round. If, for example, 100% of purchasers said, “I’ll only buy at $240,” then 10k were sold, and 30k rolled into the final sale. We don’t know how many tickets went unclaimed.

  123. Todd permalink
    February 8, 2012 3:09 pm

    Yes, but industrial scalpers are also desperate for that data. It helps them measure the value of investment, the success of their recent attempts to get tickets and to price the demand to maximize return.

    Other organizations, like Glastonbury, also keep a tight lid on the numbers that registered for ticket sales.

  124. Kaden permalink
    February 8, 2012 3:14 pm

    Just some points of clarity:

    Actual ticket sales are 57,000 when you factor in the early ticket sales in December, the low income tickets, and the general sale total numbers.

    The BLM and BMORG re-negotiated this year for 70k. The reason BMORG only increased tickets to 57k (which is entirely valid) is because exodus must be addressed. Entry is increasingly a problem, but it is exodus which is the most burdensome.

    As to your questions;

    As the event has become passionately beloved by so many, and because the number of participants will only continue to grow, regionals are the only way this event can continue to include the entire population. Since regionals have a very good chance of being the very people that bring camps, art, cars, etc…, it would be reasonable to assume that a portion of tickets should be controlled and distributed by the regional
    contacts. Some tickets, not all. In this way, core members of camps (and I’m only advocating a small number of tickets should be sold to camps so they can’t monopolize them) can rest assured they can plan and go. Or art projects, art cars, you get the picture. This will also create a situation where more people will want to be involved, adding to the overall contributions. And this will ensure that the regionals have artwork, camps, and cars too. Eventually, this will mean that you see just as much amazing stuff at the regionals as the event, because they will rival BM in size and creativity.

    As for ticket to name registration, I think there are ways to make this work. If you are required to register your name to your ticket at the time of purchase, it will then be tied to the cost you paid at that time. If you wish to transfer your ticket, or simply cannot go, it must be returned to STEP and another name put in to claim that particular ticket. The original price can be refunded and the person who wishes to buy it can then purchase it with first claim for transfers or whomever was next in line if it is a general return.

    Ah…so there is still slowing down the gate entry. Gate entry is slowed because of searches, not because of validation (ok, yet). They already put barcodes on the early entry passes and validate them, so the process could be expanded. During your search, which takes far more time, gate persons can be scanning a ticket and checking an ID, or even printing the name on the ticket at the time it is sent and validating with an ID at the gate. I’m pretty delusional, so there may be ample reasons why this is isn’t realistic, but we all know the reason it takes so long to get in is because they are ensuring nobody is hiding in your magic pony express golf cart. Believe me, this is nothing like Will Call. That is a lane change, requiring merging, and you still undergo searching.

    As for pricing struggling burners out. I very much agree on that. Very creative people tend to be less than affluent. This is because our society doesn’t place monetary value on artists like they should. This, again, is where the camps, cars, and art should come in, coupled with the regionals. All of these should be using some of their fund-raising or camp mates to ensure that these people have help. That’s part of the community. Granted, tickets have skyrocketed in prices, and I would like them to be lower, but I don’t know what the overall costs are and cannot gainsay these increases.

    The best thing that can happen is dialogue. We’re a community that builds a fantasy world in the middle of the desert. We should be able to solve this issue…

  125. Anonymous Burner permalink
    February 8, 2012 3:15 pm

    You’re assuming every single Burner who, by the way, went against BMOrg direction to submit only one time won’t scalp tickets to fund their trip. Just saying since those “Burners” were greedy the first time…

  126. Anonymous permalink
    February 8, 2012 3:17 pm

    More ingress lines? I do hope you take your own comment seriously (“I, for one, will volunteer to do my part.”) and be one of the people checking tickets in that ingress line. You can’t have more lines without more volunteers to staff them.

  127. Rutrow permalink
    February 8, 2012 3:19 pm

    I agree with Elaine, I chuckled down deep!

  128. lee burridge permalink
    February 8, 2012 3:20 pm

    Well said. So well said that all someone from BMORG now needs to do is to copy paste your article and add “What She said” above or below it.

  129. Random Burner permalink
    February 8, 2012 3:22 pm

    There are exactly 0 unclaimed.

    I didn’t get filled at 390 and neither did ~60% of affiliated camps members, most of whom were willing to get filled at all tiers.

  130. February 8, 2012 3:27 pm

    Burning Man is the camps that people bring. Even if interest in the event was only marginally more than the number of tickets offered, this lottery system ignores the fact that core members of camps risked not getting tickets, thus potentially disbanding major camps that could have included a hundred-plus people.

    The lottery system is at odds with what Burning Man fundamentally is. Even if 75% of a camp gets tickets, it very likely could mean the loss of art cars, art projects, activities, transportation, or the camp itself.

  131. Howie permalink
    February 8, 2012 3:28 pm

    @Anonymous Not BM as the counter culture – BMORG is the counter culture.

  132. February 8, 2012 3:29 pm

    And not because of any fault of the camps members- even last year, Burning Man didn’t sell out until well into the summer! The old system benefitted those who needed the most time to prepare and thus contribute to the event, and knew early on they would need a ticket to back up their planning. BMORG needed a new server, not a new system.

  133. Anonymous Burner permalink
    February 8, 2012 3:31 pm

    Can’t volunteer if you don’t have a ticket.

  134. akb427 permalink
    February 8, 2012 3:32 pm

    The previous poster said this year’s system protects against scalpers. Unfortunately, it doesn’t. As of right now, stubhub alone has 75 tickets listed (0.18% of the total issued tickets, assuming no forgeries), and most scalpers won’t even bother listing for a couple of months. My suspicion is that scalpers probably landed at least 2% of total tickets, and perhaps double that.

  135. February 8, 2012 3:36 pm

    Brilliant argument. I will look seriously into regional burns.

  136. Alyssa Royse permalink
    February 8, 2012 3:41 pm

    I am a little overwhelmed by the response to this post. 1,000 reads per hour. Damn, if only people read my pontifications about sex with as much vigor!

    But let me be clear about a few things:

    1. Not everyone is going to get a ticket, no matter what. That’s fine. Things sell out all the time. Personally, I don’t have an issue with that at all. I am certainly not suggesting that everyone should get in. People, for instance, who blast dubstep all the time should….. Wait, I don’t mean that. I love our diverse community, dubstep, frat boys, shirt-cockers, sparkle penises, you name it…..

    2. All I was trying to do was point out that this problem got as out of hand as it did because of communication issues leading up to and following the ticket issue. Yes, I think the ticket process was screwed, but it got as big as it did because of communication issues. On both sides. The org didn’t communicate well, the BurnPopulation reacted badly. It turned into a pissing match. Would you want to listen and communicate with a bunch of people who were calling you names and accusing you of conspiracies? No. The communication debacle goes both ways. That said, the org still has to deal with it and primarily own eat, even though any rational human being knows that’s not really “fair.” They have to be the grown ups. Sometimes that sucks.

    3. The nature of communication in general, and definitely of Corporate Communication, is that if the person you are talking to did not understand you, then you did not communicate. I had a boyfriend say to me once, “I don’t know why you don’t understand me, I’m a great communicator.” Funniest thing he ever said. So, NO, I don’t by the “but we already said that” that I’ve heard. Why? Not because they didn’t say it, but because “we” didn’t hear it. Or understand it.

    4. Yes, whoever said that PR is just finding another way to tell the story. That’s exactly what it is. And this is exactly why it matters. It’s not manipulation or trickery, it’s communication, and that means you have to find a way to say it that people want to hear it and can understand it. Sometimes that means swallowing your pride.

    5. No, this was not a complicated ploy to get a ticket. I am truly ambivalent about it this year.

    6. No, this was not a complicated ploy to get the Director of PR position at Burning Man. But thanks to the dozens of you who emailed me to tell me I should have that job. ‘Twas a lovely ego boost, which was also not my intention. (On that note, no, I am not hiring, I have nothing to hire you for, but I’m flattered as hell that some of you want to come work for me. Do you do laundry? No, I am not looking for a job, though interesting communications work, on a contract basis, always intrigues me.)

    7. To all the remaining questions sent to me and posted around the web, here are my answers: yes, yes, yes, no, sometimes, red, no, yes, sardines, not really, yes, more often than I’d like to admit, black and I haven’t tried THAT yet but am always up to try something new. In no particular order.

  137. Peter Gulash permalink
    February 8, 2012 3:42 pm

    Very well written, as someone in the client development business for the past 30 years, listen to your clients, trust them they know what they want and need. Listen, Listen

  138. scoir permalink
    February 8, 2012 3:44 pm

    the reason is for people in theme camps or those of us that put the larger art projects that are registered out on the playa we have to have everything turned in before that time and talking to these groups we are all sitting at about 20% have the needed tickets to pull these things off and those who pull together for the more massive mutant vehicles are in the same boat too. and since with over 75% of tickets gone and only having 20% of needed tickets that is a problem beyond what any of us see a way to overcome.

  139. February 8, 2012 3:46 pm

    My experience with thickets this year so far: I signed up to buy two tickets in the first tier, one for me, one for any fellow camp mate who did not get ticket even though signed up to buy. I got two tickets through lottery and so I transfered the second ticket right away as planed. I got $320 tickets and that’s how much he paid me back. As I see it, it wasn’t hoarding as much as evening out the randomness of lottery system among my camp of ~20 people. My understanding of the lottery was that if you sign up for 2 tickets, you can either get no tickets or 2 tickets, but not one ticket. It was logical to take opportunity to buy two tickets, because it doubled my chance of getting a ticket while being able to provide another meaningfully. I simply figured that most will come to this conclusion and some will have extra tickets to redistribute through BMORG’s resale system. In what ways do people think that is inadequate or wrong, especially if the resale system disallowes increasing prices?

  140. Alyssa Royse permalink
    February 8, 2012 3:47 pm

    Thanks. Yes, Burning Man is a business, much as it irks people to look at it that way. It is probably a $50M business at that…… It’s a huge business. As one who loves business, I don’t say that in a negative way at all, but it’s a worthy reality check in terms of systems and operations development. And remembering how important your customers are. In this case, the customers truly make the business…. Not unlike, dare I say it, Facebook. 🙂

  141. Alyssa Royse permalink
    February 8, 2012 3:49 pm

    OOOOOHHHHHHH, a costume party? yes, please. I love a costume party!

  142. Brother John permalink
    February 8, 2012 4:00 pm

    Oh! Sorry about that. I hadn’t heard that. Thanks for the education!

  143. Sunny permalink
    February 8, 2012 4:02 pm

    Hi Allysa, I hope you won’t mind terribly that I took the liberty of quoting your post in it’s entirety over on Marian’s official “We fucked up”-ish statement at

    I believe you and Lazlo (do a CTRL-F) could solve this multi-pronged crisis by lunch tomorrow (minus logistics, of course).

    Mmmm. Lunch tomorrow… 🙂

  144. BigBunny permalink
    February 8, 2012 4:13 pm

    Folks, I am getting tired of hearing this ‘volunteer’ thing, so much of BM is built on volunteer efforts and labor… Why is it we over look this and consider it ok? I call it slave labor of the borg mentality. Since BM office sells tickets at a profit its time they pay the very people who spend months at a time out there building. Not just food and drink (yeah I know some of them can drink alot!) and housing (if that is what you call a dust tent). Shoot if other ‘business’ around the world can function and pay its employees its time the BM office learns to do so as well.
    Yes some volunteering is great and necessary, but in the whole scheme of things their cost of labor is next to nill, because of all those wonderful people that sacrifice their time and unpaid labor to make BM happen and for BM to turn a profit. A profit at the cost of someone else labor/financial well being. Its funny our country will fight for illegal labor to make a ‘fair wage’ but not the hard working crews of BM. This is so odd? Anyone else see this as odd? or cult like slavery?

  145. Jen permalink
    February 8, 2012 4:16 pm

    I have spent more money to have much less fun. $200 to be a part of a community, to view some of the most spectacular large-scale art, to hear some of the best DJs, to have incredible random moments of awesomeness and share it with 50,000 like-minded people. Can’t be duplicated. Sorry.

  146. Joe Mayes permalink
    February 8, 2012 4:19 pm

    If Trilo knew everything, why didn’t he convince the BMORG to change their ticket process?
    Seems like through all his moderations, he just says DON’T WORRY! Everything will work out!

  147. BigBunny permalink
    February 8, 2012 4:21 pm

    Time to remove the demand… I volunteer not to go or support this event because of the direction it has taken. I will support my local artists, performers, and event promoters within ‘our’ community. There you go… how to free up an event for the demand…
    “don’t always follow the crowd, because nobody goes there any more. It’s too crowded” yogi berra

  148. February 8, 2012 4:31 pm

    Wow, I have no doubt that you were really, really good at your PR job. Please, please, please if I ever really and truly screw the pooch come to my aid. This was an incredibly well done piece and really great advice for BMORG, I hope they take it to heart.

  149. Jen permalink
    February 8, 2012 4:38 pm

    Brother John – couldn’t agree more. We were ALL newbies at one point. How would we feel if the community had tried to shut us out? Sharing the experience of Burning Man is what it’s all about…

  150. Jen permalink
    February 8, 2012 4:49 pm

    Lots of true colors coming out… it’s sad all around.

  151. Butch de Playa permalink
    February 8, 2012 5:24 pm

    Your article is ‘spot on’. Nice delivery, too! As an Architect and IAM wizard for last year’s Temple, I volunteer my problem-solving skills to the Bmorg along with you. They are good people, but they were somehow charmed into the false prophecy of a “lottery”. (How many times in the history of the world has that happened?) Despite their BM status, their human condition deserves some compassion from the rest of the community because most of us ‘burners’ have been there as well, in one way or another. As you eloquently explained, it is not too late to save the day. Their (and our) first step is take your words (aka ours) to heart and follow each them. The next step is to resolve the actual ticket fiasco itself, and I know there is an honest fix for that, too. But, time is of the essence and much is at stake! I await the call to action.

    Thanks again for letting your ‘angel’ speaking out. You have been heard!

  152. Alyssa Royse permalink
    February 8, 2012 5:30 pm

    Thanks, Butch. Okay, let’s fix it! 🙂 Yes, good people who went down a bad path. We don’t need to yell at them, we need to help them fix it. They are humans – good, smart, creative, and generous humans at that – who messed up. I’ve done that. More than once.

    Thanks for being a sane and generous voice. And gooooood golly, last year’s temple. I’d bow to you if you were in front of me. Masterful. I still play my lame-ass video of the harp at sunset when I need a little grounding.

  153. Why do people think it should be free? permalink
    February 8, 2012 5:44 pm

    “$200 for a ticket that gave them permission to go camp in the middle of the desert,”

    Do you have to rent the desert at the same time? BM rents the desert from Nevada for the months it takes to set up, run and clean up the event. They also have to pay for facilities like toilets (Which as we all know is a struggle every year, since people stuff up the porta potties and wreck the contractors trucks, so they probably charge more every year as well) bring in centre camp, water trucks, medicals, food and drink for volunteers, run watches all year to protect people from appearing without their knowledge on porn websites, fund art projects, and THEN support surrounding communities and worldwide efforts to help the less fortunate.

    I don’t understand why people are so loving and giving at Burning Man, and then so vitriolic in the default world. And no, I don’t have a ticket, and would not buy from a scalper. The whole reason for this problem is the scalpers moving in in the first place.

  154. Lazlo permalink
    February 8, 2012 5:53 pm

    Superb post! My compliments.

  155. February 8, 2012 6:20 pm

    Nice! Perfect post, honest.

  156. Sunny permalink
    February 8, 2012 6:40 pm

    You and Lazlo could solve this by lunch tomorrow. Lazlo’s input can be found over on Marian’s apology at the burning man blog. I hope you’ll forgive me for cross-pollinating your posts in their entirety. Both are fairly long, but worth the read.

    Lazlo’s post follows:

    Lazlo Says:
    February 4th, 2012 at 11:16 pm

    My thoughts on the ticket SNAFU

    My fiancé and I were “lucky” if you can call it that… My request for 2 tickets was granted at the $390.00 tier.

    This will be my thirteenth burn in a row, and my fiancé’s seventh in a row. We got engaged on the Playa (on the Man!) in 2007. I’m a participant, as opposed to a “spectator.” I’ve been a part of large scale music camps, small scale (but cool) art projects and several theme camps. I bring a small art car and give rides to anyone who asks. I’ve gifted literally thousands of dollars worth of custom made trinkets as a way of thanking my burner brethren for their participation. And every single day, I wear (proudly) one of the two burner necklaces I received in 2004 from Liquid Diet Lounge. (Gave the other one away, as instructed, to someone who “wasn’t an asshole”). I’ve been responsible for countless virgin burners deciding to go, getting there, and getting through the event. I truly cherish the core ethos of Burning Man, the freedom to express oneself without conventional boundaries. Being among those who appreciate and participate in such an event is awe inspiring and rejuvenating. That’s why I’ve been back every year since I first rang the bell in 2000.

    Its also why I’m heartbroken at what has happened this year with the ticketing situation and its probable impact on both the event and – more importantly – the community. There is a lot of confusion, anger and pain out there. Its palpable and its legitimate.

    Our core group of burner friends and camp-mates played by the rules, and of the 12 of us who applied, only 4 got tickets. I doubt any of the four of us that got them will actually go unless something miraculous happens for a majority of the other eight.

    What hurts isn’t that there hasn’t been some sort of profuse apology from the Org, as so many apparently demand. What hurts is that anyone who is smart enough to be in charge of such an event should have seen this coming a mile away. When the lottery was first announced, there was an almost universal antipathy from the community. Many people, presciently, pointed out that scammers and scalpers could and would easily game the system. I personally sent a letter to the LLC last November explaining numerous ways that the system could be gamed and provided several methods (legal and technical) to prevent them – including linking tickets to IDs. I never heard back. Others tried to warn them too, directly and through social media. But the Org decided they knew better and asked us all to trust them…we really had no choice….
    And so here we are.

    Its important to realize that this is not a virgins versus long time burners issue. Yes, its important that the large scale camps have sufficient manpower to build their projects. But I don’t think there is something that makes a long time burner more deserving of a ticket than a virgin. We were all virgins once. The event needs a constant flow of new people and fresh ideas to remain vibrant. So I hope my long time burner brethren will stop bashing the virgins simply because they were lucky enough to score a ticket.

    I do not think it particularly “burneresque” for people to cast personal aspersions. I don’t – for a second – believe there was any overt intention from the Org to screw over our community. They did what they thought was the right thing to do. Hindsight is always 20-20. I appreciate and believe Maid Marian’s statement that the Org is going to take a long hard look at their options. I’ve been fortunate to have met Marian and I am certain that she is as heartbroken and concerned as I am, if not more so. So I do not approve of people attacking her for her press release.

    I will say that I think it was incredibly naive of those who set up the lottery to believe that scalpers – who due to the supply/demand situation could potentially triple their money in just a few months – wouldn’t take out pre-paid debit cards which the “scrubbing software” couldn’t possibly catch. They do this for a living and know how to game far more complex systems than the one employed by the Org in running the lottery.

    I also believe it naive (or at best wishful thinking) to assume that there are a significant number of actual burners who got more tickets than they need and who will now redistribute them through STEP. The sheer number of people who have discussed the ticketing problem on social networking sites, the e-Playa and here are ample evidence that simply didn’t happen. Thus far, I have not spoken to a single person who registered for more tickets than they needed, and got them. In fact, what I’ve heard is that a few registered for more than they needed, and got none at all.

    One additional concern I have, which I have not seen discussed, is that it reasonable to assume that if only a third or so of the burners who applied actually received tickets, then there is a strong probability that only a third of the scalper applications were granted as well. So simply giving those who applied and were turned down a better chance at the remaining ten thousand tickets will only put more (probably 60%) into the hands of the scalpers. Talk about pouring gasolene on a fire….

    Complaining isn’t going to fix the problem. It may be cathartic, but its not really productive. As I see it, the real question now is what can be done to try to fix the problem.

    Selling more tickets isn’t an option. The BLM permit has restrictions and – believe me – the government doesn’t care about the ticketing problem.

    Some are talking about “occupying” or rushing the gate or trying to sneak in. Please… It’s a federal crime to trespass on federal land. There are many in the government who frown upon our gathering, and would look at a huge number of arrests, be they for drugs or trespassing, as a golden opportunity to deny future permits. So unless you want to throw out the baby with the bath water, that isn’t the answer either. Perhaps the long term solution to the supply/demand problem may involve moving from our beloved Playa to another location that can accommodate more people, but that is a discussion for another time. But the man burns in 210 days…

    So what can the Org do to make this better now. Many have suggested linking IDs to tickets. I agree. (I suggested it in the letter I sent in November.) The Org should immediately undertake and implement a legal and secure system to do so. (I hereby volunteer to help.)

    I believe it can legally be done, even for the tickets they have already sold. I wanted to know for certain, so I went to the source… I have my ticket stubs going back to 2003. Each one bears the same warning; “This ticket is a revocable license and it may be revoked by Burning Man for any reason.” Any reason can now simply include that the ticket hasn’t been linked to an appropriate identification document as required.

    Burning Man has the e-mail and mailing addresses for every ticket sold. An e-mail (and a snail mail letter) should go out to each “winner” with a coded link to a database that allows them to identify the name(s) linked to each ticket reservation. If you won a single ticket, its your name. If you won two (like I did) you can identify the other person you are bringing. If you show up at the gate without an ID that matches your ticket, your license is revoked. (Yes, there will be a line for those to plead their case that they lost their ID on the way, or whatever, but it won’t be allowed to hold up the main entryway.)

    Each ticket must be linked to an ID within a short period of time, otherwise the license will be revoked, the ticket refunded, and the available ticket placed back into the pool. The time to link the names must be reasonable (perhaps 15-20 days) but must end long before the March 28th drawing. The Org should immediately publicize the new system to keep people from being duped into purchasing in the secondary market. Scalpers will not be able to collect hugely inflated prices – especially for tickets they don’t even have in hand – when people know they have to be quickly linked to a specific ID or be revoked.

    While it could be done, there is no need to actually print one’s name on a ticket. Each ticket is already bar coded, and they have been for years. It doesn’t take all that long to check a ticket’s bar code against the database to ascertain the correct holder. Yes it will take a bit more time. Yes, the Org will probably need more lanes to get people in without clogging up 447. But we have 8 months to work through the logistics.

    The programming for this system can not be all that hard. In fact, they may already have the system in place. The early arrival system already uses bar-coded PDFs which are checked upon arrival. If they need to improve that system to correlate to IDs and to handle the larger numbers, or even build a new one from scratch, I’m sure a good programmer could code the entire system in well under a week. The Org just took in a significant amount of money. I’ll bet they can afford to hire someone good.

    Anyone who needs to sell a ticket can do so, but only through STEP. A reasonable service charge may be appropriate, and may increase as the event gets closer, but it would be relatively easy – and fair – to restrict sales to the STEP program.

    People seeking tickets through STEP will be placed in line, first come first served. It would be easy to include a tracking feature for each reservation so that you could go on-line and see how many people there are in line in front of you. Tickets purchased through STEP tickets must be immediately linked to both an ID and the purchasing credit card, and the names on both must match. The printed tickets should now include a notice that it must be accompanied by the linked ID, and is non-transferable other than through STEP. Any tickets left over (if any) would be available – at a premium – at the gate.

    It’s clear that this will not be a simple task and that it may cost some money to implement. It may require some more on-Playa manpower, but I’ll bet that the Org wouldn’t have much trouble getting volunteers if it helps alleviate the problem we are all facing now. But it’s certainly doable in the time between now and the Burn. The Org have access to people with significant legal and technical expertise. If they don’t, then I can help them find some. This could all be solved next week if there is a will to do so. I hope there is, because I’m looking forward to my thirteenth burn and hope I don’t have to wait until next year to experience it.

  157. Warren permalink
    February 8, 2012 6:52 pm

    And 4k low-income.

  158. George permalink
    February 8, 2012 7:04 pm

    I wish you the best of luck in helping them fix it. But this event has been so revealing of the thinking of BMORG. They apparently live in some fantasy world of “progressive” utopia and don’t understand their own community or fundamental economics. They don’t seem to understand that only a portion of their participants are “random” folks who can be chosen by lottery. The rest are the core people who many most of the camps go. THOSE people absolutely, positively need to be there or the entire event suffers for everyone else.

    They can’t treat their participants as a mass of faceless digits like some socialist beehive. The event doesn’t work that way. Show me a camp of 50 people I will show you a core cadre of that camp that do most of the planning, most of the work, and contribute most of the resources. It will probably be between 6 and 10 people. Those 10 people HAVE GOT to get there in order to make that camp happen. The other 40? They can get random slots and it won’t matter too much for the most part.

    They created an air of scarcity and people overbid on tickets. The first rule of distribution says that when there is going to be a shortage, you don’t announce that there is going to be a shortage because right away people start hoarding. Even people who hadn’t even thought of going before now wanted to go because it was now all so much more “exclusive” because of the ticket shortage. Having a ticket is now a main bragging item for every narcissistic psychopath West or East of the Pecos.

    Not only have they blown it, they have exposed that they have no freaking clue about their own community so that anything they try to do to recover from the mistake is likely to be just as harebrained. It’s going to be fun to watch the front office hippies dig their way out of this one.

  159. February 8, 2012 7:29 pm

    Reblogged this on Owen Allen's Blog and commented:
    This is too important of a list of PR principles to not make a note of. I’m placing a copy on my blog so I’ll have it when I need it. I’m sure that I’ll need it someday. Just because I’ve lived a perfect life so far (Ha! Ha!) doesn’t mean a crisis isn’t around the corner. Thanks, @ericatoelle, for the hat tip to this article.

  160. Brother John permalink
    February 8, 2012 7:52 pm

    …Or maybe they find the idea of “core” people elitist, or believe that the event needs a certain amount of disruption, or don’t know how to justify carving out tickets for a special class of veterans, or…and so on. It’s speculation until BMORG becomes more transparent on their thinking.

    I have gone for 12 years, and been at or near the center of a twelve-year-old theme camp for most of those years. And I don’t think, for a moment, that I should get special treatment. Hell, I’m the first to admit that the random virgin I sponsored last year brought a lot more energy and enthusiasm than I did, and I would not call myself jaded.

    I’m not trying to talk you out of your view. But it might change your perspective on BMORG’s “obligation” if you understood that at least some “core” people–perhaps many–see things the opposite of you.

  161. February 8, 2012 8:02 pm

    Finally, reasonable people stand shoulder to shoulder with me. I’ve been saying these exact things for 16 years. They have made bad decision after worse decision and we have absorbed their idiocy for over a decade and made it right because WE ARE AWESOME. Despite their best efforts, the event still exists.

    We need to tell them that it’s not just the ticket thing. It’s most everything they have done. Myopic, selfish power lords who turned this thing into a joke, basically. It is currently a shadow of what it could have been.

    I’m embarrassed that this is my legacy, my youth, my identity. My city’s identity. It’s fucking humiliating.

    Excited to see their exit.

    chicken john

  162. Anonymous permalink
    February 8, 2012 8:06 pm

    I’ve seen a few comments from BMORG. I’m sure they all have tickets, so……. The communities are shattered. I don’t know exactly how that will play out but Burning Man and it’s principles will be changed. Wonderful article, btw.

  163. Madeline permalink
    February 8, 2012 8:08 pm

    Anonymous? Oops sorry. Madeline Morrill here!

  164. Tara permalink
    February 8, 2012 8:38 pm

    Really really really really really well written and spot on, my fellow burner. You have summed up the crux of what has been my greatest disappointment in this whole debacle, the Org’s complete lack of empathy or appropriate response to thousands of disappointed and disheartened members of the community. I, personally, felt this was a poorly thought out idea from the outset but had faith that on some level, the Org knew what they were doing. I was prepared for either outcome, be it ticket in hand or not. It crossed my mind to try to put down multiple credit cards or ask family members to sign up for the lottery, to increase my chances, but I opted for the path of being honest and let the chips fall where they might. No ticket for me. Nor tickets for dozens upon dozens of friends who have been long-time dedicated members of this community. And no acknowledgement from the mysterious and elusive powers-that-be who got us all into this mess. At the end of the day, I’m sure I could find my way to a ticket, and maybe even could the 15 people I had planned to camp with again (also none of whom got one), but I can’t support BM on this one. However, words such as those you so eloquently articulated above, might begin to restore my faith in the Org and consider going again. Next year. In the spirit of community, impermanence, and evolution, I hope we can find a way out of this, together. )'(

  165. February 8, 2012 8:58 pm

    these systems are not difficult to implement.

  166. Ginn permalink
    February 8, 2012 9:05 pm

    great great article! absolutely true through and through…. I too go back and forth from minute to minute, day to day on if i even want to attend this year or try for a ticket in these other ways after being denied a ticket in the lotto…. our camp only got 3/20 tickets, so 17 of us are ticketless, not sure that everyone will get a ticket, not sure everyone will try the other methods even due to being so disheartened… this would have been my 5th year, and we had big plans, now we cant even start on those until we acquire 17 more tickets…. really hope BM figures it out and before its too late…

  167. February 8, 2012 9:53 pm

    I have to say I learned, laughed and was delighted by such brilliance in your writing concerning this major problem. If this is you just getting something off your chest then you just blew me away.

    To BMORG: this is crowd sourcing at its finest. That’s love she wrote. Tough love but not too harsh that there is no hope.

  168. February 8, 2012 10:06 pm

    yep yep, what they both said!

  169. Alyssa Royse permalink
    February 8, 2012 10:07 pm

    That was particularly touching. Thanks. Tough love is the kind that is served with a lot of trust and faith. 🙂

  170. February 8, 2012 10:28 pm

    SO right on. man, i’d love to meet y’all on the playa, that’s for sure. we’ve all been out there together, creating the culture ourselves. i’m also in the business of business dev./customer service and this is (collectively) some of the best stuff i’ve read so far (and, it happens to resonate with what i’ve been writing to my campmates in our yahoo group). Camp Celestial Bodies got roughly one third of the tickets we all (honestly) applied for. None of us thought to game the system by entering for more than we really needed. at this rate, i doubt our camp is viable… thank you for your insights and offers to help.
    my theory is that BMorg intended to “mix it up” this year and turn the event on it’s ear, hoping to invent a “new” culture by making it impossible for a majority of each theme camp, art installation and volunteer pool to get tix.
    I don’t believe the collective heads were so naive as to think this would not be the case. i hope i’m wrong, but i trust the collective wisdom, and if it’s to be, then so be it. I’m kinda “Doris Day” about the event this year. We didn’t get our tix, we bring a big ass art car (different each year), an art bike, and we’re part of a really cool camp (we think). so, que sera sera…

  171. February 8, 2012 10:37 pm

    joe, i completely agree. your last sentence says it all. it’s not that difficult to fit the technology to a company’s growth/expansion. i still theorize that it’s the intent to have a new culture created – an experiment by BMorg to see what will happen when the “usual” and “core” burners who build the camps, art, and city don’t get tix. i, for one, am interested in the outcome. we didn’t get our tix, so we’re not going to cry about it. well, maybe my artist-partner will cry if he can’t bring his projects to the playa this year, but then again, it will force us to come up with a different 2 week adventure and it doesn’t have to be in August, or in the desert. 😉

  172. permalink
    February 8, 2012 10:43 pm

    Names are not attached to barcodes for early entry passes. The pass can be used by anyone. The barcode is simply a serial number. Once it’s scanned as an entry, it doesn’t work anymore.

    Not to put down your idea of attaching names to tickets. That should totally be done. And all the effort put into their PACE or whatever it was called can be repurposed as the tool for transferring tickets between folks who bought some and need to sell some back to the community.

    What gets me is that this is pretty much exactly what people said would happen, and this and many more great suggestions were made. Oh well.

    What REALLY gets me is that AFAIK this entire thing is driven by the federal government, via the BLM, which is limiting how many of us can use OUR LAND, and when. For folks who are angry at the org, well, think about that. They didn’t actually choose to have to do this at all. The BLM forced it. The same BLM who gives away use of billions of acres to cattle ranchers to use, energy explorers, and other profiteers.

  173. February 8, 2012 10:43 pm

    brother john, i agree 100% with your final statement that this was a calculated risk and was no accident. there ARE NO accidents. BMorg, above all, knows this.

  174. February 8, 2012 10:45 pm

    just say the word, we’ll bring our art car and bike and desire to create community to THAT new place!

  175. oh kay permalink
    February 8, 2012 11:26 pm

    thank you thank you…may we all continue the good vibes to the ticket gods and hope this fiasco rectifies itself soon!

  176. Grokstar permalink
    February 9, 2012 12:02 am

    Thank you.

  177. jockamo Feenahey permalink
    February 9, 2012 12:23 am

    Thanks Brother John & Warren
    Good Lookin Out.

    BTW Things were so great last year, this year is gonna SUCK!
    Do Yourself a favor & stay home this year, that way we won’t have to worry about the tickets fiasco.


  178. Sean permalink
    February 9, 2012 12:58 am

    I’m down with the photo ID thing. Makes sense. However, the time restriction is difficult. I’m an artist who does bring some larger art projects out to the desert. I like to reward people who help me with metal work and logistics with a free ticket to the burn so they can help me on playa. How would I be able to do such a thing in the above system?

  179. Firewalker permalink
    February 9, 2012 1:05 am

    Not to be contrary, but you do have to understand the public safety issues with a HUGE crowd out in the middle of nowhere.

    As a paramedic, there are limits on crowd size based on safety, medical capacity, and planning of ra true natural disaster which are REAL in that particular location, with no backup, no support from a nearby city, etc.

    Just keep that in mind before saying it is merely politics.


  180. roamingtheworld permalink
    February 9, 2012 1:12 am

    Well said. Thank you! Letś hope BMORG is reading and takes the advice!

  181. February 9, 2012 1:30 am

    Even to a total outsider with 10 minutes reading the comments it’s patently obvious that a ticket lottery would destroy ‘camps’ by depopulating experienced, dedicated burners, and therefore the event will be far less efficient and complete, and a lesser experience for all.

  182. Anonymous permalink
    February 9, 2012 1:50 am

    The BMorg, or more specifically the LLC, has a large internal problem. It’s a cultural issue that prevades everything they do. Sometime around 2004 they suddenly realized that they were about to make a profit. They had 2 options: set up a transparent organization that used the money wisely and prudently for the greater good, or devolve in to secrecy and opaque management. I do not know why they chose the later path. But it is a path of fundemental flaws. Among other things it inharently distrusts all others. Ethics come from the top and the LLC has decided to solve the paradox of acting like a non profit while making large sums of profits by being secretive and non trusting.

    The current situation exemplifies this misguided ethic.

    Various estimates of the profit put the current value north of $7Million. See the recent discussions by Marion concerning the plan to issue an undisclosed sum as a ‘bonus’ to each other in the LLC PRIOR to becomming a non-profit.

    This will be very interesting to watch. The LLC must make some very difficult changes or BM is going to fall apart at the seams. Along with all the charitable spin off organizations that depend on BM to act as anchor and nexus.

    Transparancy would be a prudent first step.

  183. Marcy permalink
    February 9, 2012 2:03 am

    Blablabla. Just get me a couple of tickets

  184. February 9, 2012 5:22 am

    Looks like we have another “bubble” on our hands.

    This whole sorry business is a good lesson in why our economic system is so dysfunctional. Substitute “housing” for “Burning Man tickets”, and you can see why the country is such a mess. The actions of speculators have increased what economists call “price volatility” to such an extent that it wrecks any attempt at rational business or personal financial planning.

    Burning Man needs to ensure that all parties who buy tickets actually intend to participate in this event. It is after all a cooperative living arrangement if not a private club, not just a “festival”, and attendees are under certain obligations to the greater community. Sure, not everybody can get in because of constraints by the BLM, but BORG needs to be proactive to ensure that Burning Man tickets are “de-commodified” to guarantee fair access & prevent members of the Burning Man community and those who would like to join from being ripped off.

  185. Josh permalink
    February 9, 2012 5:30 am

    Yes you are on the money with your excellent article. Beyond the initial practical issues of this year’s debacle, the real long term solution to this problem would be to bring on the increase in people, manage a larger event (on lets face it a very large piece of land), and not ‘sell out’. The PR job actually needs to be selling the Burn to the BLM and how it is going to manage growth going forward.

    I have seen here in the UK how Glastonbury has an instant sellout of 150,000 tickets within hours of going on sale. They can’t get bigger as there is no more land. In India, by the banks of the Ganges, the Kumbh Mela is the ultimate festival with millions attending. They get it right there too. This is just a blip to be learned from, but the real exercise is to work out how to deal better with BLM to allow real growth. To all of us around the world who see the Burn as the mothership to all sorts of things – events, lifestyles, behaviour etc – there is a very important reason that newcomers should be made welcome. The event has to grow, it has no choice. But it needs to do it well, and that I would humbly suggest is by allowing unlimited growth without the challenge of the moniker or pressure that a ‘sell out’ presents.

    Take the job btw.

    They, and we, could do with a bit of Alyssa Royse acting for the Burn.

  186. TICKET HOLDER permalink
    February 9, 2012 7:29 am

    I won 2 tickets in the lottery. I plan to either give the extra to a friend or donate it to a camp I believe in. This is to be my first Burning Man. Something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. Something I’ve grown to believe in.

    When I received the notice that I had won, I was, and continue to be, incredibly grateful. The Universe had allowed me. It is finally my time.

    To those of you that want to rescind the lottery, I feel you sound like spoiled children who don’t want to let anyone else into your club. The BM principles are what attracted me most to this event. To say that I have to give up my ticket, when I participated in the lottery, had the same chance as you, only put in one request for tickets and the Universe deemed me worthy, is really selfish. If you want a private club, that’s not very inclusive is it? If that’s how you truly feel, maybe it’s better if you don’t come this year. Is the Universe trying to tell you something?

    Sure some camps won’t be able to bring everyone they want. Maybe that is a good thing. It would bring a freshness to the event. And some more experienced Burners without tickets would stay back in the non-BM world and live the BM principles as an example to others. That’s how I found out about BM in the first place. I am so grateful to have my tickets. You have NO IDEA what they mean to me and what going will mean to me.

    I agree the long term solution IS more land. Make it a bigger event. This is just a growing pain for something that seems quite wonderful and magic.

  187. Kristine permalink
    February 9, 2012 9:03 am

    Alyssa: I’m curious about why you say Burning Man is a $50M business. Even if they sold 60,000 tickets for $390 each, their gross sales would be under $25M. Business aren’t valued at gross sales anyway….what am I missing? There is so much hyperbole out there when it comes to profit for BM. At this point we do know the event is profitable but where did the 50M come from? Thanks, Kristine

  188. rocketgirl permalink
    February 9, 2012 9:14 am

    Hi, here’s another reason why BMorg has a real problem on their hands in relation to theme camps:

    (originally I posted this in the comments of SFBG’s article)

    Last year Burning Man solicited business from theme camps and sold shipping containers to them which are stored on Burning Man’s “80 acres” property north of Gerlach. My camp now owns our own container in Gerlach, in which we store all the building blocks of our camp. We pay for storage and delivery to the playa each year. It’s a great boon for us, as it eliminates stakebed truck rentals and saves us time and energy packing and unpacking the truck and storage units. Some theme camps rent storage units in Empire. Therefore theme camps have somewhat of a stakeholder investment in returning to the playa each year, which has been explicitly encouraged by the Burning Man organization. If theme camps who own/rent these units cannot get their membership in to be present as a camp, they lose dues and possibly cannot pay for the annual storage bills.

    As Burning Man actively solicited purchases from theme camp groups, either by phone call or emails, I feel that there should be some responsibility on the part of the event to make sure we can build our camps by allowing enough tickets for our core members to buy and get into the event. As a kind of “hedge fund investor” in the Burning Man business side of things, and also in the local economy of Gerlach and Empire, we have become more than merely participants, clients or visitors to the event. We are financially invested in the future of the event and the organization. I assume that Burning Man did not foresee this outcome, but now they are in a position somewhat akin to corporate responsibility to investors, which are theme camps, whether people want to admit it or not.

  189. February 9, 2012 9:15 am

    Thank you. You have provided a voice for me. I vote a NEW BMORG unless they follow your advice. They’ve really screwed and left us feeling unsupported and uncared for. All the “trust us” talk just makes me angry. I don’t want to be angry about something so beautiful.

    If they can’t hear us and meet us, we need a new ORG. They are the only thing about BM that is “over”.

  190. February 9, 2012 9:18 am

    As a 10-year veteran and volunteer, I welcome newbies. Fresh blood is good so I’ve hosted a newbie almost every year. Everyone who wants to, deserves a chance to experience the burn.

    With that said, every year, I come across people who really don’t get it… folks who are unprepared, takers, disrespectful, moop-makers or just plain assholes. It would be great if ticket-buyers had to pass a quiz on playa principals, to make sure they understand and respect the values of Burning man.

    Keep in mind, playa life takes time to master. My first year, I went with a veteran burner but contributed far less than I wanted to, simply because I didn’t know. I still learn something new every year continue to get more involved.

    People retire every year, so of course BRC needs new blood… but imagine a 55k person community, where the majority of people are new, unprepared and unable to create the art, camps or services that make Black Rock City, not because they don’t want to, but because they are just green.

    We need those established groups and veteran burners to teach the next generation what they’ve learned. Otherwise there will be an overwhelming amount of people who are unprepared, dehydrated, sunburned, hungry, cold and who leave a moop behind and abuse the potties. There would also be far less ‘wow’ on the playa as well simply because newbies can’t create grand-scale projects. That would suck for everyone.

    The outrage is not about keeping newbies out… it’s about keeping scalpers from profiting at the expense of the BRC community, new and old. I disagree that the answer is simply using more space. Bigger is not always better; quality versus quantity. The best year was when the population dropped a bit.

    I am glad you got your ticket, but why did you order two if you only need one? That’s part of the problem. If everyone just requested only what they really needed, the distribution would have been more fair. Please consider selling your extra ticket back to the org.

    I volunteer at Earth Guardians, Lamplighters, Gate and Greeters so maybe I’ll see you there. Wishing you a magical first burn.

  191. AshInTransition permalink
    February 9, 2012 9:23 am

    I’m not sure about other years, but last year, early entry tickets were linked to camps and/or projects. It was a requirement to have your EA pass on you at all times, and if you were discovered to not be there for actual set up, you would be asked to leave, and the camp/project you were associated with would lose privileges in the following years.

    Perhaps it was just a hoax – who knows – but it made sense to me!

  192. Kristine permalink
    February 9, 2012 10:03 am

    Kaden: can you cite the the reference increasing the event size to 70K this year? I’ve been watching the permitting process for a few years, as much of it is public info. My understanding is that the the new permit won’t be issued until March or April, like last year. The BMorg and BLM are still in negotiations for the cap this year. The current permit application is a max cap of 70K with incremental growth over five years. BMorg applied for this permit for the 2011 event, but BLM put the cap for 2011 at the same number as 2010 (50K) and said it would continue to evaluate the application for growth over five years. Last year’s permit required that BMorg “manage” their ticket sales so that the event never went over 50K. It did go over, by about 4K, which means BLM will be looking at the BMorg’s ticket “management” skills with more scrutiny before approving the 5 year permit. The take away is that the BMorg sold more tickets than the cap last year, using data to which are not privy, to estimate max attendance on any given day. They were off by more than a few percentage points. That says a lot, to me anyway, that BMorg needs serious help with this growth thing.

  193. February 9, 2012 10:04 am

    Once you got your early entry wristband, you no longer needed your EAP. Villages, camp and projects get delivered a “block” of EAPs, and then assign them as needed. This allows last minute change to who is coming early.

    In the past the BMORG has had problems distributing EAPs, i.e. lost, duplicates, etc. This doesn’t give me much faith they can handle 50,000+ individual tickets with pictures, etc.

    Many of the suggested changes would require the BMORG upgrade their ticketing capacity. If they had done that in the past we wouldn’t have had many of these problems.

    As far as increasing the attendance, much of the problem is the capacity of Hwy 34 (the road along the edge of the playa) and Hwy 447 (the road to Hwy 80). These roads just can’t handle many more cars, especially on Monday Exodus. The Nevada Highway Patrol are very concerned about the traffic.

    I don’t know how Glastonbury handles the traffic, but the M5 is a lot closer than the 100 mile drive to I-80. And Cochella is right off I-10.

    Now, I expect the BMORG is currently banging their heads, trying to figure out how to get some kind of acceptable “fix”, when they only have 10,000 available tickets. And even they won’t have a good idea how many tickets went to scalpers, how many people have extras, etc.

  194. February 9, 2012 10:08 am

    YES, that would be awesome!!!… “Maybe this is the dawn of the many regional burns, and the influx of Burner culture into the default world 365 days a year.”

  195. February 9, 2012 10:18 am

    This is the issue that always comes up with the ID required idea. How can I buy a ticket for someone if I don’t know who it will be yet. i.e. that unidentified “helper” on my project. And if an identified helper suddenly can’t make it, how do I transfer the ticket?

    If you allow transferring of tickets, than how does that stop scalpers?

  196. February 9, 2012 10:39 am

    4K un-allocated Low Income tickets are still there.

  197. Lotus permalink
    February 9, 2012 10:42 am

    BMORG seems to have no interest in how the actual attendees feel about the ticketing. I had gone multiple times and loved it, but last year a gate volunteer harassed me to distract me while she stole my ticket out of my car *there was NO WIND* ok I had picked it up from will call moments before and only wish it could have been issued in MY NAME*

    a plea to the ticket window guy led to him trying to scalp me a ticket for wayyyyyy over face, I was threatened to be kicked out of the event if I continued accusing either volunteer of wrongdoing, so I piped down, bought the new ticket, and once I got inside two of my virgin burner friends (before I could say anything!) said- what was up with the gate searching volunteers? they said they were looking for people, but were going through our cooler, our bags, and they were really really mean to us.

    writing a letter afterwords, filling out the whole census “other comments” box, but to no avail. They just aren’t interested in the fact that two volunteers profited off my trip more than I did.

  198. Kristine permalink
    February 9, 2012 10:44 am

    Alyssa: I learned so much from your post. On Monday, I read the BM Blog post about the Bmorg working on a solution to the ticket situation. (This was before they added that they were sorry, by editing the post on Tuesday). I read it over twice, I was confused that there was so much language and no accountability or apology. I was surprised at myself for caring. Since when does anyone owe me an apology? But I was feeling really miffed and I wasn’t sure why.

    Later that day I got an email from our local email server here in Socal. They had been down all day Friday, during business hours, and email was trapped. They have a ton of business customers, so you know that they got a lot of customer support calls on Friday. Their short message explained the situation, what they learned, how they fixed it, and how they had participated in creating the problem. And the last line: We value your business and we are sorry we let you down. I was stunned that they actually said what they did wrong and that they were sorry. That last line made everything right again. All was forgiven!

    I am embarrassed at how susceptible I was to the tone in these messages. But I was! I was Irritated and disappointed with BMorg, who I know to be good people trying to do the best they can for art and humanity. Placated and understanding towards my email server, an unknown group of people in an office in an unknown location doing things I don’t have any clue about.

    Any chance you wrote that letter for the email server? It sounded so much like your writing examples above? Thanks so much for sharing your insight and skills.

  199. February 9, 2012 10:45 am

    the old system was much harder to scalp. It required a person to sit in a queue for a few hours, waiting to get two tickets. So you need a bunch of people to all spend a few hours, to maybe get tickets.

    The lottery allowed a scalper network to spend a few minutes per person to register. And then just sit around and see if they won. The same bunch of people, but only a few minutes each. Also, those people got each register a couple of times with differing addresses.

    Now, no one really knows how many tickets went to scalpers. Or if 100,000+ people actually wanted to go!

  200. anonymus permalink
    February 9, 2012 10:54 am

    agreed, the volunteers at the gate and ticket window last year were awful, yelling, screaming, crying, stealing… WTF

  201. foxwalker permalink
    February 9, 2012 10:57 am

    Even though this isn’t from BMORG, it made me feel better reading it. At least SOMEONE understands. Thanks.

  202. February 9, 2012 11:00 am

    BLM and the Nevada Highway Patrol will never agree to Gate only ticket sales. They have no interest in dealing with the traffic mess.

  203. Anonny Mouse permalink
    February 9, 2012 11:12 am

    i’m sorry to hear of your problems last year…but it just goes to prove something that i’ve said many times….and that is…just because someone is a part of the “underground” or the “scene” or the “community” doesn’t make them cool. assholes and scumbags are everywhere, there’s no escaping them.

  204. Anonymous permalink
    February 9, 2012 11:28 am

    Great article, Alyssa. As a PR guy and someone who had hoped to venture from Colorado to the desert in Aug. for his first Burning Man, I can relate.

  205. Andy permalink
    February 9, 2012 11:42 am

    great analysis here on the comment thread.
    Finding a new location (while proven to be difficult on multiple attempts) could really improve Burning Man. i met a man last year attending his 26th burn. Yes, he was there with Larry in the very first. He has been airlifted out of the burn 3 times for respiratory illness. Many of us who only come for a week or a little more do not realize many staff members spend long amounts of time there at potentially great expense.
    One heartfelt member of the community was actually concerned about this man’s life.
    The playa is toxic, and it is dangerous to human health. There is radiation in the dust and the basin acts as a trap for diesel and gas emissions. These emissions, incidentally, are the most disgusting thing I have encountered in my resporatory life. More viggie oil and alternative power sources should be phased into art car regulations.
    It is a really good thing that BRC has given back to the local community. Hopefully we can leverage some more of that goodness to acquire a location which can support more numbers and better health.

  206. Anonymous permalink
    February 9, 2012 11:49 am

    I just saw the movie “Animal Farm”…

  207. biznessboobs permalink
    February 9, 2012 12:18 pm

    I came up with that – quickly and sloppily – from looking not just at the money that the org makes, but at how much the entire economy of Burning Man generates. I figured, all costs included, 50,000 Burners spending $1,000 each.

  208. February 9, 2012 12:31 pm

    Alyssa, thank you so much for so eloquently and bluntly saying what so many of us feel! Im an 8 year Burner and consider it woven into the very fabric of my being and I coulnd’t be more pissed about the way this new system has been handled, and the clear disillusionment on behalf of decision makers in SF. I have no doubt they are kind, smart, innovative people – but they’ve fucked up and they need to own it and get creative on ways to change it, like you said – ask for help! This is our collective community and there is magic within us.. let down the egos and veils and admit you messed up and lets move on. If not, its only going to snowball from here and it hurts my soul to imagine this causing the end of BM. It would be so fitting that in 2012, the event would end and the mission of it would integrate into our everyday lives and cities and culture – but we’re not there yet, so goddamit – let’s please stop this nonsense and go back to the circus drawing board to work this out so I can have my transcendent-acid-infused-sunrise dance party and all day banter of social innovation discourse… as I have had for the past 8 years! In Burning Man we pray.

  209. February 9, 2012 12:38 pm

    If we sound spoiled you sound sorely lacking in empathy and understanding.
    We get to go to our Home for one week every year and many of us devote our entire year to contributing something for that one week. Please be a little kinder and understanding of our pain.
    Enjoy your burn.

  210. February 9, 2012 12:41 pm

    yeah. they were nasty!

  211. Alyssa Royse permalink
    February 9, 2012 12:42 pm

    For those of you following along at home…. Since writing this post, the folks in the offices at Burning Man (several of them) have reached out to me. They have thanked me, asked for my insights and opinions. They have asked for help.

    It is worth noting that although they liked this piece a lot, one of the things that was repeatedly mentioned was that the comments from YOU ALL were among the most enlightening, helpful and clear that they had seen anywhere. In short, WE created effective dialog. WELL DONE!

    Having just had a very long talk with Andie and Marion, I personally feel a lot better about things. And I will try to bring that to you, here….

    They know this is a mess. They feel like shit about it. Sleepless and all the rest.

    This does appear to be, largely, a scarcity issue. They did have 3 times the request for tickets as they had last year. They are up against some very real constraints and are trying to figure out how to deal with them.

    There are solutions in the works. Big ones. Many of which came from suggestions here and on other blog posts. The goal is to figure out how to keep the heart and soul of Burning Man – theme camps of all sizes, big art, veterans – together while still staying open to new people who are ready for their first burn. Remember how it changed you? We don’t want to deny that experience to anyone, do we?

    I was also contacted by some TV show that I have never heard of because it’s aimed at techy gamers, and I am not one of those, to do a live interview about all of this, this evening. If you want to tune in and see me fall flat on my face trying to speak for 50,000 people I’ve never met, and an organization that I don’t yet fully understand, feel free to do so. Here is a link to the Web Site. Supposedly it also airs on various TV stations, I don’t know, not my thing:

    Keep your comments coming, and keep them as smart and civilized as they have been. They’re reading this, closely.

    THANKS. We can do this!

  212. Kiki permalink
    February 9, 2012 1:36 pm

    Loved your piece!
    And it’s good to see Andie and Marian taking note.
    I would like to add, though, that this year, there were SO MANY first time requests – a huge jump over growth in years past – as well as such a low success rate from long-time burners that it is obvious that the system was massively gamed. As the “dust” settles with theme camps, tickets are still hard to come by – which suggests that despite their efforts, lots of tickets went to scalpers. It is highly unlikely that actual demand increased THAT much in a year. Whether or not there is a way to address this, who knows? But, until they acknowledge it, it’s going to be difficult to move forward.

  213. February 9, 2012 2:16 pm

    Breath… Everything will be ok. Even if you don’t get to go.

  214. Poo permalink
    February 9, 2012 2:42 pm

    You are so full of yourself its disgusting. “Oh by the way since I wrote this , the people at buring man love me, i’m so great” Hindsight is 20/20…….

  215. February 9, 2012 2:50 pm

    This is the sanest, most rational take on this whole fiasco I’ve read. Thank you.

  216. TerryH permalink
    February 9, 2012 2:52 pm

    Brilliant, well-written analysis of the situation! I find it amusing to note that the Olympics this year are facing exactly the same problem – they also went with a ticket lottery which has been a disaster. Scalpers have gamed the system there too. I was hoping to go to BM for my 4th time this year and bring 3 newbies along but we all decided to sit this one out because we forsaw this epic clusterfuck, and we aren’t going to support the scalpers. Until the BMORG changes to a system that firstly reserves tickets for the art camps (they are, after all, the heart and soul of BM), then sells the rest of the tickets at all the same price and ties them to a name, this mess is going to continue.

  217. biznessboobs permalink
    February 9, 2012 3:00 pm

    That is interesting. I just googled that, and apparently the same thing happened with the 2010 Olympics….

  218. Sunny permalink
    February 9, 2012 3:02 pm

    Hugs! Hope you feel better soon!

  219. February 9, 2012 3:06 pm

    Alyssa, don’t accept their praise! You are ONLY getting attention from them because of the high number of hits on your blog. They could give a fuck about what you are saying. The problems you are pointing out are PATTERNED BEHAVIOR that has plagued EACH AND EVERY SMART AND ARTICULATE PERSON THAT HAS EVER BEEN ANYWHERE NEAR THIS THING.

    Stand your ground, and you will see their true colors. If they think that they can turn you, they will treat you really well. But once you don’t tow their line, you become “hard to work with”. Or they may hear you are using a lot of drugs. Or just drop all communication with you. Have they offered you an email address so they can read your mail yet?

    I don’t expect you to have so little faith in your fellow man instinctively. Allow yourself the benefit of my experience and a few THOUSAND other people’s experience.

    They will try to woo you now. Maybe that is what you wanted. But I guarantee you this, if 3 people commented on your blog, you wouldn’t get the time of day from marion.

    Sure, they made a huge tactical error. That will result in them making more money. Surprise surprise. But what do they really want out of this? Could they have done this on purpose? Are they really that stupid that they didn’t see this comming? Either way it’s “get it off me”. No matter how you slice it, nobody else would have done this. Not me, not you not anyone we know. We would have all LISTENED.

    The culture of Larry and Marion is not at all about listening to or using the amazing, awesome genius’s that surround this thing. They shut everyone out from the minute they stole this thing. And we are all still shut out. As we watch in horror as they cluelessly embarrass themselves again and again with an endless barrage of excuses and we watch our beloved festival became the most boring and predictable specticle any of us have ever seen. Because they wanna do it “Their Way”. Forget that they have no experience in anything, really. Forget that they don’t really participate in this community. Forget that they are probably on average 45 years older then the average burner. Forget that they haven’t had a new idea since… well… actually, they don’t actually have ideas. They only filed paperwork on someone elses’ idea.

    What should be clear to everyone now is that this isn’t new behaviour. This is what has always been happening. You just never saw it before.

    I wish I had time this week to sit down and write a good essay, this is all the time I have.

    chicken john

  220. Sunny permalink
    February 9, 2012 3:07 pm

    Alyssa-Great news and thank you for the update. I’ve cross-pollinated again to Marian’s post on the burning man blog in hopes of alleviating some fears and uncertainty among those participating in the discussion there. It’s amazing how a little info can be so soothing.

  221. rocketgirl permalink
    February 9, 2012 3:35 pm

    Hi Alyssa,
    Thanks again for your insightful comments and solutions to this disaster.

    Here’s something else I was thinking about.
    As you know, and as Marian acknowledged on the Capital Radio program this morning, Bman is built on the efforts of all of us ‘volunteers.’ And for it to be built, there needs to be some kind of guarantee that these volunteer builders will be able to get there and do there jobs.. I am talking about theme camps, of all sizes, art projects, and org volunteers who run center camp, antarctica, greeters, rangers and emergency medical folks, temple guardians, bus terminal folks, lamp lighters, etc.

    This means that for BMan to continue, we need to accept that there is a “worker class”, a group of “employees”– essential builders of the city, and service personnel. I realize that this may go against certain defining principles, but reality changes things in unpredictive ways… always.

    This means:
    1. theme camps and art projects, etc. need clearly to be provided with tickets.
    2. a decided number of tickets should be reserved for them, and an early registration needs to occur. Registration would be for camps and art, both placed and non-placed. Not as free, but just reserved for purchase by these essential people.
    3. another decided amount of tickets would go to org volunteers. Not as free, but just reserved for purchase by these essential people.
    4. then another decided number of tickets would go on the open sale for newbies and individual campers.

    Before anyone slams me, all of these categories of people are important! But clearly the numbers must be managed in some sort of authoritative manner. It would be quite easy to come up with these numbers based on past years. A certain amount of theme camps are placed. They know this number and the number of total campers in these camps. They can also come up with the pretty exact number of org volunteers who run the machine before, during the week and afterwards. They can easily decide on a number of UNPLACED theme camps and art that will be allowed, then open the rest of the tickets to the general population.

    Am I advocating an elite class? No, but I suppose you could read it that way. It’s just a hard realization that any event, be it Coachella, Harmony or any other “fest” happens because of a core of employees who build the stages and vendors who work the event. The difference is that at Burning Man we are all volunteers, and although we pay our own way, we need to be granted access to the tickets to purchase in order for the city to get built.

  222. Alyssa Royse permalink
    February 9, 2012 3:59 pm

    Speaking only for myself, I totally agree with this. There would be a lot to be figured out, but I think this is the right kind of thinking.

  223. February 9, 2012 4:21 pm

    Don’t understand how they didn’t expect this to gut their core theme camps that give so much. I’m the only one I know who has a ticket. BM is my favorite thing on the planet since I wen’t in 2010. I will forgive and do anything to keep it alive and well.

  224. Withheld to avoid BM tracking my name permalink
    February 9, 2012 4:41 pm

    I hate to agree with you, chicken john, but Marian’s radio interview didn’t come across to me as overly concerned. It was the same company line we heard right after the lottery results. My faith is still shaken.

  225. Sunny permalink
    February 9, 2012 5:07 pm

    Thank you. You speak truth about a reality that calls into question how to practice “radical inclusion” when your “crew” can’t be there to radically include. If BMorg can give us a rational system that rewards actual persons, early planning, people doing projects great AND small and still has plenty of tickets for oh-so-yummy newbies I’ll bake everybody a cake.

    If not I’ll be convinced it’s been a giant performance art project by BMorg to “burn” the event to see if we’ll really go out and fertilize the world. And that’s cool too. Nice work, really.

  226. Withheld to avoid BM tracking my name permalink
    February 9, 2012 5:12 pm

    Alyssa, first of all, thank you. I have turned many a Burner your way and this blog. However, I disagree with your ticket assessment comment. You say (or BMOrg said) this does appear to be, largely, a scarcity issue. It isn’t about scarcity at all. It’s about a horrible Lottery system, lack of foresight, and the incompetent ticketing management process with years of proven failure. Until the folks responsible for creating this mess either directly ask the community for assistance or completely step aside, the solution is out of reach. They can have all the WebEx conferencing they want with current staff, but it’s the blind leading the blind. Where is the call for assistance to the Burner community? We have the solutions but at no time has BMOrg told us where and how to submit them. You mention they’re scanning the blogs for solutions? Sheesh. Stop reading blogs while sippin’ gourmet coffee, BMOrg. Start asking the right people for help. Set up a direct line of communication (a simple e-mail addy works) and request creative solutions with names/numbers of true professionals. I can’t help you if you refuse tell me where to send the info.

    Now, I know we’re keeping this civil. Suggestions on helping theme camps and putting names on tickets are solid and should be implemented without hesitation. Remember, folks, not all theme camps are solely comprised of “old timers” as Marian said in her radio interview. (Side note: that “old timer” comment may be cute but comes across as condescending. Please stop. It reemphasizes the current thought BMOrg is out of touch with the very people who made BM great. I’m not a 14 year “old timer” but a long-time, dedicated Burner.) We usually have about 20% new camp members each year. So, helping theme camps does include new Burners as well.

    I would also suggest providing more frequent BMOrg updates instead of asking everyone to “chill.” At least let us know you’re doing something … anything. This idea has been mentioned before ON THE BLOGS but the silence is deafening.

  227. Electric Twinkie permalink
    February 9, 2012 5:22 pm

    My brother and I went to element 11 last year outside of Salt Lake City and we had a blast. I would imagine it has the feel of the early burns where it was small enough to get to know many of the burners. They seemed to have a lot of room. We should all go there this year July 12-15.

    Burn on,
    Electric Twinkie

  228. Alyssa Royse permalink
    February 9, 2012 5:52 pm

    Ya, I didn’t mean to imply that the lack of foresight about importance of groups and infrastructure wasn’t the current core issue now. It is. FOR SURE. I just meant that the demand was indeed so high that there was no way a lottery system could have even come close to working. There is no doubt that they should have allowed for the fact that if you break apart groups that provide everything from art to emergency services, the event dies. I do know that now, that’s pretty much what they’re trying to solve.

    Indeed, when looking at other issues of sold out shows and events, and even flawed lottery systems, none of them allow for the fact that you NEED certain participants in order for the event to happen. So they could have analyzed all sorts of data about lotteries and still had incomplete data because that’s not the kind of things that’s been quantified for anywhere. Yes, the lottery system backfired int he 2010 winter Olympics, and in a recent Bruce Springsteen concert with tickets going to scalpers…. But in those cases, the hockey teams and the band still got it, the events could go on. So looking at the efficacy of a lottery system by comparing it to past events like that would yield an inaccurate picture.

    We are here because of flawed logic. I don’t, personally, think there is any lack of appreciation for the core camps. Which is weird to say since they were clearly given little consideration up front. But, if this makes sense, I don’t think it was the people that weren’t considered, it was the math. So, flawed logic, bad math and totally unforeseen demand created a perfect storm.

    The problem now, as started this post, is that the communication hasn’t helped much. I don’t have much to add to that that I haven’t already said.

    Though there is another businessy blog brewing in my head. (It’s a sickness with me, I truly love business and PR.) I started wondering about the whole idea of “experienced voice,” and how that might inherently alienate a brand from it’s constituents. Public Relations is, at it’s core, about relating to the public. The further away you get from being a member of that “public” the harder it is to relate to what they need. The harder it is to serve them. The easier it is to alienate them without meaning to. If you can’t relate to your public then you can’t have PR that works, by nature.

    Otherwise it’s just marketing…… Marketing and PR are not the same…

    I do not believe there is an absence of real appreciation or a conspiracy, and I’m not even sure that scalpers are more or less of a problem than they were last year. I think the big problem now is communication, and figuring out how to get the core people down there.

    I have a pretty sharp bullshit detector – not perfect, as evidenced by my dating history, but pretty good. Marian and Andie and I spoke for a long time this morning, and they get it. For real. As far as I can tell, all the scrambling that is happening right now is about trying to get the core people down there….. There are plenty of radical ideas being thrown around, and a lot of consideration being paid to how to present those ideas.

    I still wish they were being more forthcoming and human and direct about how they FEEL about this mess because I think that would help everyone feel better. No apology feels as true as the one that is accompanied with, “I understand what I did, I am responsible for it, and here’s what I’m going to do to try and fix it now and prevent it from happening in the future.” As true here as it is between lovers.

  229. Alyssa Royse permalink
    February 9, 2012 6:15 pm

    This was in response to a comment way down, but I’m reposting it because I think it matters:

    Ya, I didn’t mean to imply that the lack of foresight about importance of groups and infrastructure wasn’t the current core issue now. It is. FOR SURE. I just meant that the demand was indeed so high that there was no way a lottery system could have even come close to working. There is no doubt that they should have allowed for the fact that if you break apart groups that provide everything from art to emergency services, the event dies. I do know that now, that’s pretty much what they’re trying to solve.

    Indeed, when looking at other issues of sold out shows and events, and even flawed lottery systems, none of them allow for the fact that you NEED certain participants in order for the event to happen. So they could have analyzed all sorts of data about lotteries and still had incomplete data because that’s not the kind of things that’s been quantified for anywhere. Yes, the lottery system backfired int he 2010 winter Olympics, and in a recent Bruce Springsteen concert with tickets going to scalpers…. But in those cases, the hockey teams and the band still got it, the events could go on. So looking at the efficacy of a lottery system by comparing it to past events like that would yield an inaccurate picture.

    We are here because of flawed logic. I don’t, personally, think there is any lack of appreciation for the core camps. Which is weird to say since they were clearly given little consideration up front. But, if this makes sense, I don’t think it was the people that weren’t considered, it was the math. So, flawed logic, bad math and totally unforeseen demand created a perfect storm.

    The problem now, as started this post, is that the communication hasn’t helped much. I don’t have much to add to that that I haven’t already said.

    Though there is another businessy blog brewing in my head. (It’s a sickness with me, I truly love business and PR.) I started wondering about the whole idea of “experienced voice,” and how that might inherently alienate a brand from it’s constituents. Public Relations is, at it’s core, about relating to the public. The further away you get from being a member of that “public” the harder it is to relate to what they need. The harder it is to serve them. The easier it is to alienate them without meaning to. If you can’t relate to your public then you can’t have PR that works, by nature.

    Otherwise it’s just marketing…… Marketing and PR are not the same…

    I do not believe there is an absence of real appreciation or a conspiracy, and I’m not even sure that scalpers are more or less of a problem than they were last year. I think the big problem now is communication, and figuring out how to get the core people down there.

    I have a pretty sharp bullshit detector – not perfect, as evidenced by my dating history, but pretty good. Marian and Andie and I spoke for a long time this morning, and they get it. For real. As far as I can tell, all the scrambling that is happening right now is about trying to get the core people down there….. There are plenty of radical ideas being thrown around, and a lot of consideration being paid to how to present those ideas.

    I still wish they were being more forthcoming and human and direct about how they FEEL about this mess because I think that would help everyone feel better. No apology feels as true as the one that is accompanied with, “I understand what I did, I am responsible for it, and here’s what I’m going to do to try and fix it now and prevent it from happening in the future.” As true here as it is between lovers.

  230. Sunny permalink
    February 9, 2012 8:16 pm

    Alyssa–I missed your interview. Is it archived somewhere?

  231. February 9, 2012 8:36 pm

    Love it, just watched your TED talk. So Good!!! and want to leave this. it just drop

  232. Anonymous permalink
    February 9, 2012 10:05 pm


    Theme camps and solo campers and “artists” are all supposed to be equal. No spectators, right? So they can’t value your theme camps’ contribution more than a wingnut like me who decides to make a small but profound art project by the trash fence. Who decides who’s worthy… thus, the lottery

  233. February 9, 2012 10:15 pm

    I know many Gate staff. I find that hard to believe. If they wanted to profit off of someone coming in without a ticket, do you think GATE STAFF would have a problem getting money to smuggle someone in? REALLY. Your argument is GATE stole your ticket? They’re dicks, wonderful fuckheads and bastards… but they don’t steal.

  234. February 9, 2012 10:18 pm

    Your vote has been tabulated.

    A new event will be held by people who’ve never dealt with the event before, never dealt with law enforcement and have no idea what the logisitcs are and will blindly follow whimsy. Good call. Give them your $350 and trust them.

    (back when the borg didn’t know what they were doing, it only cost $65)

  235. February 9, 2012 10:20 pm

    That’s assuming that a theme camp is more important than someone who just comes out and does their own amazing, small scale thing. Are you willing to tell a solo artist that he can’t do his wieird small thing so that you have someone to run your theme camp’s kitchen?

  236. February 9, 2012 10:23 pm

    Except that a burningman ticket is a one time use deal. A house is an investment. You do understand the difference, right? It’s a big one.

  237. February 9, 2012 10:29 pm

    “The gate staff doesn’t steal.” Wow. You are clueless. It’s all about morale. It’s a complicated equation. Suffice to say that there are bad people at every level of an organization as big as BM. But with leadership like they have, the structures that are in place MAKE people into theives with the way things are run. If people liked or respected leadership, they would not steal. But they do because they have mostly digust for the leadership. The leadership has no idea. Surrounds themselves with fake yes men types. The only good one of the bunch at the top is Andie. Who is saintly.

    Don’t blame the gate staff for stealing from the event. Blame the leadership for making cool people into theives. How do they do that? Simple. The ticket fiasco you are currently reading about is an excellent example of what the leadership has always done. Just never at this scale before. It’s been part of the culture, actually… that they piss people off and make them stomp away leaving room for someone else to do that volunteer job.

    It’s all different this time. Now everyone knows the level of ineptitude. Now everyone knows that they don’t really care, becuase they are not going to fix this. They are going to spin it, and try to take the consequences head on, and just absorb the blow. Because that’s what they always do. It’s gonna make a ton of people not go. They will have successfully scared ALL the good people away. Which from my vantage point looks like what they have always been doing.

    Where is the financial transparency? Why can’t scalpers make a few bucks off BM? Why is it that it’s OK for Larry and Marion to make millions but we can’t hustle a few hundred? Why can’t OUR event be for US? Why can’t we be memebers of a club to gain enterance? Why do we have some limp dick “principles” (basicly Larry’s opinions) instead of a CONSTITUTION? Why don’t we have voting rights?

    Why won’t the LLC listen to anyone ever? Why would we let people like that lead us?

    They caved in the last hour or so. Wrote an apology. Watch the spin. You would think that Fox News was their PR team.

    enjoy the show


  238. February 9, 2012 11:46 pm

    As someone else impacted by both burning man and koman this week, I was starting to think that the mayan calendar was correct and the world really was gearing up for a fantastic end. Thanks for your post and your advice. At least the leadership at bman has a prayer of recovery as they actually do appreciate the playa community and I believe will work hard for the little guy. Can’t say the same for Koman who is crushing every three day walker who ever had a bake sale to raise money for breast cancer and then walked 60 miles to keep a commitment. They could use some good crises communications right now. Maybe you could remind them that the fight against cancer is fueled by emotion, a lot of the money is raised on that emotion, and it isn’t about the babies, it’s about the boobies! Nancy Brinker needs a good dose of playa love, but I can’t find it in me to send it.

  239. Deborah Windham permalink
    February 10, 2012 12:36 am

    so, you didn’t get a ticket or you did?it might be the best yet.

  240. Anoymous permalink
    February 10, 2012 12:41 am


    Thanks so much for your blog…your suggestion made so much sense and I’m glad that they seem to be listening to you. I’ve worried about the abilities of the organization as a whole for some time. Last year it came to my attention that there was someone at the gate who was charging friends a lower rate to sneak them into BM. Several people from a friend’s camp told me about this…and the more I inquired it turned out that this guy had been doing it for years. I reported it to to the Gate Organization and even though I was able to provide a name, the date it happened and another person willing to step up as well, the organization decided that there wasn’t enough evidence to remove this person from the gate….they didn’t seem to care about this at all. And, for pushing this, I ultimately got a very angry and insulting email from the person I was communicating with. I decided that if they cared so little about this, then why should I. So frustrating.

  241. February 10, 2012 1:38 am

    this is awsome advice.. and it looks like Mborg took it seriously.. very awsome!

    *skips about*

  242. Alyssa Royse permalink
    February 10, 2012 5:44 am

    Do you still have the letter? And yes, that is appalling. On every level.

  243. Alyssa Royse permalink
    February 10, 2012 5:53 am

    Hooray for *skips about*! I am not about to take credit for that last Jack Rabbit Speaks, which, yes, was awesome. I know that they had been working on it long before our voices got heard on this. But I do think that we helped narrow the focus of what needs to be done and for that I think we thank the power of collective sane, rational and creative voices very clearly stating why they are so pissed off. I am proud to have been part of that with you guys. But really, me bitching in a bucket would not have worked.

    As personally as we all take it, I genuinely believe that the people in the office take it more personally, and I think we could fuel an entire classroom on the collective sleep that they lost over this. It was ugly, it is ugly, but I think we can be proud of the changes that will come.

    They fucked up. It’s okay that so many of us are pissed, that was a natural response to it. What’s different is the level of dialog on this, and other blogs, as opposed to the infertile vitriol places like Facebook. The anger here is fruitful because it is intelligently discussed, so it is filled with little action items. I thank you for that. I am glad to have been part of it, however unintentional and unexpected it was.

  244. Anoymous permalink
    February 10, 2012 7:55 am

    Yes, I do. You don’t throw out a letter like that!

  245. February 10, 2012 8:25 am

    Ticket? I got a ton of people to buy for me. I am poised to make ten grand off this, at least. And who would begrudge me that money? My fingerprints are on so much of BM. Why can’t I enjoy the demand? Why is it OK for Larry to make millions who has never so much as loaded a truck when guys like me who built heaven and earth get less then nothing? Now I’m not asking for an paycheck here… but if they are STUPID enough to create an opportunity for me, why should I not help them to see how stupid they are? And why can’t it be at my option to control a bunch of tickets and give them away? Why is it always Larry that gets to say how things work? Why is scalping tickets bad? Are scalpers bad? Are the people who buy from scalpers bad? Where is the bad here? The bad here is with the LLC, who didn’t make this thing a membership organization with voting rights. Which is a conversation that I’ve been having since 1996.

    Remember that most of the information you get is from the LLC. No one has ever seen a bigger spin machine. They have been saying things like “We are in stage 2 of our 3 stage plan to spill on a world stage…” since 1999. The leadership of this thing peaked, and won’t let go. Won’t let the next group take it to the next level. Give it away to a non-profit? Sure. A non-profit board that THEY select who serve one year terms. It’s crap. Just like everything else they do.

    It’s called founders’ syndrome. Look it up:

    And remember that no matter what happens, they don’t really care who is at the event. Whatever is easier for them. Watch them bend, spindle and
    mutilate their words to accommodate whatever they want. They interpret (or ignore) their “principles” to defend whatever it is they do. And never back down. Ever. You don’t like it? Fuck off. There are thousands more waiting to take your place.

    I’m so glad to see the end of their reign. They are just too old to defend themselves.

    May the bloodbath begin.

    chicken john

  246. gnstrong420 permalink
    February 10, 2012 10:17 am

    is their any chance of them saying they did it wrong and doing it all over?

  247. February 10, 2012 11:19 am

    I’ll keep my comment short and sweet. Brilliant advice & brilliant writing. This should be THE handbook on how to handle a PR crisis.

  248. Bill Preston permalink
    February 10, 2012 1:48 pm

    If it were a simple problem, or a Bruce Springsteen concert(to use our author’s example), this would have been solved already. Anonymous has it spot on–we can’t create an elite class of ticketbuyers, because soon there would be no first-timers. I didn’t do crap my first time, i didn’t know what to do. By my second time, I was contributing, and that should afford me exactly SQUAT more chance to get a ticket. This can’t be solved by reserving tickets for some people, but with a scalp-proof ticketing system. We’re going to have to give up some of our freedom to assure fairness. Whoa, where have i heard that before–did i actually just say that?? And that, folks, is why this is hard.

  249. rocketgirl permalink
    February 10, 2012 2:35 pm

    You didn’t do crap your first year?… You have illustrated exactly my point. A city made up of close to half newbies not doing crap, and the camps and co-ops doing art can’t because of reduced numbers… sounds awesome!

  250. Alyssa Royse permalink
    February 10, 2012 2:48 pm

    Here’s the video clip from Attack of The Show….. Very strange experience, this “live via satellite” thing. You’re really alone in what feels like a broom closet staring into a camera while someone whispers in your ear.

  251. rocketgirl permalink
    February 10, 2012 3:52 pm

    actually, that wasn’t fair of me to say that. Most of our newbies work their asses off and otherwise totally rock their first year! But as a long established camp, we find that the ratio of newbies to vets is extremely important. And our newbies have to be sponsored, and their sponsor is responsible for helping them prepare and for guiding them throughout the event. for us, a camp of 45-50 people, we find that to have more than 5 or 6 newbies poses difficulties.

  252. February 10, 2012 6:09 pm

    An individual wingnut may indeed be just as valuable as an entire theme camp – but a wingnut only needs one ticket to come, a theme camp might need 50 to really function.

    So… Why not have a lottery for theme camps – with the camps requesting their ideal ticket quantities in advance??

  253. February 10, 2012 6:58 pm

    A simple proposal:

    1) Theme camps and art projects apply for tickets just as they do for placement, or art grants. Community voting or a panel of reviewers ranks the camps based upon what they are offering to bring to BRC, and the top 30k or so tickets go to the top ranked camps.

    2) A general truly random lottery handles the remaining tickets, and gives plenty of opportunity for virgins and unaffiliated camps.

    I’d also love to see the Burn run two full weeks – that would significantly drop the average daily population and help with BLM permit numbers. And spread Exodus out over a week – encourage more people to linger longer and help clean up.

    And most importantly – more transparency in the process!

    – Seeder

  254. Anonymous permalink
    February 10, 2012 8:29 pm

    What an outstanding, insightful, and engaging piece. Alyssa, you clearly put some thought behind your emotions. Very well done.

  255. Alyssa Royse permalink
    February 10, 2012 10:08 pm

    I have to admit that, as sunny and logical as I am, it will be a cold day in hell before Nancy Brinker gets one penny our drop of love from me. I’ve felt that way about her and Komen for years, and am delighted that their true colors are finally visible. And for ME to say that…..

  256. Alyssa Royse permalink
    February 10, 2012 10:09 pm

    Thanks Neil. Yes, that’s what I usually do – convince the world that it’s okay to have sex the way you want to, and for other people to have sex however they want to also.

  257. February 10, 2012 11:22 pm

    From Roger Wilson (Alternative Energy Zone – AEZ):

    “Ok. What if the BMorg moved the event to another location starting THIS year. Maybe private land. Where there was NO population cap (well, say we could go up to 150,000); would that make you happy? Would that make everyone friends again? Would it put that dopey smile back on your face every time you heard the words “Burning Man”. (The smile you are ALL missing so badly now.) You bet! would it fry every scalper? yes (Especially if the tickets were ALL $320. And with no population limit none of the scalper “Over-face-value” tickets would move.) So contact all your theme camp contacts, your org friends, your friends who are sad that you don’t want to talk to them. Call them and explain this “everybody WINS” solution. Perhaps we (as a community) can nudge things along. Just try. I will.”

  258. voldemoort permalink
    February 11, 2012 2:13 pm

    You’re right, John. It all sucks now. i suggest you don’t go ever again

  259. voldemoort permalink
    February 11, 2012 2:24 pm

    Ultimately, a system like this (if not excactly this) is probably the way things will have to go. Without the worker bees (dpw,gate,rangers, ESD, arctica, center camp, and I’m sure I’m forgetting a few) the even simply can;t happen. Without theme camps and art projects being able to plan and prepare and come, the event could potentially happen, but it would radically disfigure the event beyond recognition. But we still need to leave room for independents and newbs to come in. This structure would encourage volunteering and participation (a good thing) but perhaps also tilt things toward structured theme camps (This might be good, or bad, depending on perspective). But the fact is there are more people that want to go than there is room in the permits, and that means we have some serious real world restraints and some changes will have to be made.

  260. February 11, 2012 2:34 pm

    Nice article I saw your words in the jackrabbit announcement today.

    How about canceling BM this year.

    By next year interest will have likely waned a bit and ticket sales will decline. Coupled with photo tickets and senior camp priority – things should regain a semblance of manageability. A year hiatus might be a good thing for the organization especially since they appear incapable of recognizing monumental mistakes in advance. (unless they were intentional.)

    BM is a culture. Leaving out the traditions and the creators of the traditions you are essentially gutting a culture = cultural dissolution. It’s like the Chinese moving into Tibet, economic invaders dissolving a sacred and precious culture. Is there a difference here? It’s not a ticket problem, it’s a cultural dissolution problem. The question is, how do you save the culture.

    Change management is also in play. Unmanaged change can be catastrophic to a system. A system in stasis where management and participants were in balance has become destructively unbalanced. Action taken to regain balance can create new imbalances and the system can suffer from harmonic resonances reverberating throughout. All of the potential near and long term negative outcomes are impossible to predict under this scenario. It is for this reason that I would favor the hiatus, allowing the BM org to regain/retain it’s most valuable asset goodwill. Any other approach will likely lead to the culture migrating to new territory and newfound reliance upon a new system that will not betray the culture or use treachery to disband it.

    The potential unintended consequences are too numerous to list but here’s a few.
    I. What if the 70% newbies are drunken frat boys and gang bangers? How many murders or teen rapes would it take to shut down the event for good? It is naive to think the newbies will be the same as previous newbies.

    2. What if the cultural core comes to see this as rejection/treachery/betrayal? How many years of no tickets will it take for the core culture to abandon BM for good? If the frat boy gang debacle played out would core culture want to return? Result an alternative event forms that espouses core beliefs and no one returns.

    3. Scalpers prove that $1000.00 is a going price and the for profit – sells tickets in the future accordingly – hiring the flaming octopus and Dj’s to entertain the crowds.

    Maybe it’s time for something new somewhere else. Children grow up and move away.
    How about Burning Woman?

  261. February 11, 2012 3:53 pm

    Oh no you don’t… You can’t tell me to love it or leave it and get away with it here. I worked HARD to be here. I’ve been here a long time. You don’t get to say that BM isn’t for me because I don’t agree with the way it’s going. Radical Inclusion, remember? We are here complaining about the climate of fear that the current draconian organization instills in everyone. I need to be vocal, and very LOUD to even get heard. Beleive me, I’ve been saying the same things since Larry stole this thing in ’96. I was just too young and too green to be effective. I’m no longer young, and I’m peppered enough to know how to call attention to things while shooting my own feet so it can’t be misconstrued (by people like you) that this is a power grab. We need voting rights that are gaurenteed by a constitution. We need to be members of a civic organization. We need to not be open to the public. We need to stick together.

    A great start would be to oust the current leadership and do something else. But tha’ts a lot harder then dancing or sewing costumes. It takes leadership and courage. And there is always at least one layer of the LLC between any of us. Which is why I am forced to exploit blogs like this. But even Alyssa can be corrupted. I don’t know Alyssa. She could be a social climbing twit. She seems like she is super right on. But you find someone’s blog that people are paying attention to, and try to use it to get your message out. The LLC makes a few calls, and my comments are GONE. “He’s hard to work with.” That can still happen here.

    But don’t take any of my disgust for anger. I’m totally hopeful. Mirthful. We just have to not shy away from this conflct, we have to meet it head on. We can’t pretend that the LLC is on our side anymore. They are playing a different game. We need to take care of ourselves, because they are taking care of them. Right now noone is taking care of us. You can choose to not beleive me, and that’s fine. But I’m not a kook. And you WILL agree with me, if you get a little closer. There is a struggle going on in the BM organization. And NOONE wants to lose their tactical position by just telling the truth. Because once you do that, your dipped in shit. Like me. Once you don’t care if your dipped in shit (like me), you are in a very powerful postion.

    But in the spirit of this amazing article, can’t we just tell the truth. Put it on the table. And repect each other that we are all pretty smart and say what it is we want? Wouldn’t that be a ‘burner’ thing to do? We are an effective, amazing community. Possibly the the most amazing community the Earth has ever seen…

    Don’t we deserve better?

    regards, chicken

  262. voldemoort permalink
    February 11, 2012 5:08 pm

    Too long, didn;t read. I’m simply agreeing with you that it sucks and is a terrible place. So don’t go.

  263. voldemoort permalink
    February 11, 2012 7:48 pm

    It costs approximately $17.5 million to make burning man happen. And keep in mind that people that work on burningman every day of the year actually do deserve to be compensated for that, especially if they’ve been doing it for say 20 years and for many of those years got nothing or almost nothing, and the event has consumed their entire lives..

  264. voldemoort permalink
    February 11, 2012 7:52 pm

    An FCFS system would not have been any better at addressing those issues. There would still be huge number of theme camps and “longtime burners” without tickets. It’s math. And it would have made the system even more vulnerable to commercial scalpers.

  265. February 11, 2012 8:04 pm

    No, it’s not a terrible place. No, it doesn’t suck. It’s the greatest community the EArth has ever seen! If you won’t read my comments, and think you are agreeing with me, the only thing I can offer for you my prayers! I pray for your strength!!!! And your patience!!!! I can offer you nothing else if you won’t actually listen to me.

    But suffice to say, we most certainly do NOT agree.

  266. February 12, 2012 2:59 pm

    I think Chicken John makes a great point. We are picking his idea up for further discussion by the Burner community, over at

    Alyssa, have you considered volunteering your own crisis management skills to the BMorg? Looks like they could sure use your help.

  267. February 12, 2012 6:16 pm

    Amazing read Alyssa…my thoughts and a little background on our experience–

    We were challenged even before the tix disaster:
    After 8 years in a row running Root Society, we took the year off in 2011 to quietly protest some ridiculous decisions bmorg made in 2010:

    We asked for simple consideration given to music theme camps:
    -please don’t charge us a ticket for every truck we bring into the festival with gear to build and put on 6 days of entertainment free for your attendees
    -help us with well over 100 bags of trash that get left at our camp every year.
    I call this “the ass end of the gift economy”
    -help us MOOP where 15,000 people have made nightly residence instead of embarrassing us with the “red map”
    -acknowledge that music has become a wonderful addition to the BM experience. This is one of our biggest themes each year. We push (subtle but firm) to integrate both art and music (a wonderful form of art!) into the grant program so we can create a awesome interactive experience AND offset some of our costs.

    This last challenge has always been met with the same answer,
    “We never intended BM to be a music festival”.
    And with this simple response, comes the assumption that we will just keep on “bringing it” each year–no matter what– SO WE DIDN’T in 2011!

    We were finally told point blank “that we don’t understand the basic burning man principles” and that it is our choice to do what we do. Why not just bring a small tent and a few gallons of water”. True.
    2 important principles listed below:
    Burning Man is devoted to acts of gift giving. The value of a gift is unconditional. Gifting does not contemplate a return or an exchange for something of equal value.
    *Radical Self-reliance
    Burning Man encourages the individual to discover, exercise and rely on his or her inner resources.
    {55,000x average 300.00=16,500,000} It looks like BMORG could give out a few more gifts of there own!

    My observation on theme camp tix:
    BMORG let the 2012 theme camps bust apart (easily predicted) as a casualty of this newly designed system. Left to be somehow resolved later.

    This part did work–we only got 12% (+/-) of Root Society ticketed. In addition, beyond our camp mates, in 2010 we comp’d nearly 60 dj’s from around the world with tickets so they could play for all of you (beyond this ticket-we don’t pay any of our talent).
    [To do what we did in 2010 without growing we need the horsepower of about 200 more people(read tickets)…and at $400 each??]

    Let us remind the team at BM of another BM principle:
    *Radical Inclusion
    Anyone may be a part of Burning Man. We welcome and respect the stranger. No prerequisites exist for participation in our community.
    {but we decide if you can come and who pays up to 390.00 for a level “you can afford”}

    We desperately missed being there in 2011, but found solstice in sitting out and we have every intention of coming back strong in 2012. We really just don’t know where to start…

    note:we have been invited to a theme camp resource meeting on Feb 15…I’m hopeful.

    Jefr Tale
    Jeff Taylor
    Founding captain-
    Root Society

  268. vajj permalink
    February 14, 2012 11:10 am

    love you root society you brought it in a whooooole new way, especially incorporating interactive art/music/action I watched the sun come up almost all week with you in 2010 & missed you greatly last year — I’m hopeful you & I are both there this year but alas, no tix yet for me & most of our camp.

  269. February 14, 2012 7:26 pm

    Late to the comments here, but I’m really surprised I haven’t really seen anyone with expertise trying to assess how many tickets went to scalpers. When the event sold out last year, it was obvious to anyone with any knowledge of the ticket business that scalpers would turn up in droves. These are professional organizations with literally *thousands* of identities and credit cards ready to go.

    I’ve seen estimates of 5000-10,000 tickets, at least, gone to scalpers who are understandably laying low for a while. I don’t for a minute believe that demand doubled or tripled over last year, and based on informal surveys we’ve all heard about it seems like only 5-10,000 regular Burners got tickets. What happened to the other 20-30K tickets that have been sold so far?

  270. Anonymous permalink
    February 15, 2012 6:46 pm

    One word: traffic. In my experience it has been ~4-5 hours to get out of the Black Rock City in the last couple of years. Want to multiply it by 3 yourself, or should I do it for you?

  271. February 15, 2012 7:16 pm

    There was no wait leaving last year at all.

    But of course, we left Wednesday morning.

    If Burning Man embraced officially extending the event for a week after the Man burns, the Exodus problems would smooth out naturally. And if they opened the gates earlier, there would be a lot less of a crush to get in.

    I’d gladly pay more for an early access pass that gets me in the gate four days early.

  272. Paramedic Burner permalink
    February 16, 2012 5:33 am

    From, my understanding the limits are based more on the environmental impact of the time and number of people and the need to provide emergency services above a certain number of people on playa. There are laws about all this.

    There is significant impact even if we do a leave no trace, because it takes weeks and weeks of cleanup to “leave no trace.”

    There is also a lack of safety and fire services, and a increased risk of injury and heat sickness due to no ice, no facilities, no back up. Additionally there is also a lack of civil services. Gerlach can only absorb so many transient people at a time without severely stressing their own city services.

    Since empire is basically closed, there isnt even a market now for like 70 miles.

    THAT is the reason for the limits on numbers of people and time of the event. The closest hospital is the black rock city hospital, OH, it’s not open during build……. so we are talking an air evacuation over 100 miles to Reno. Expensive, risky and potentially a loss of life due to transport time. If you happen to fall and break your femur during a wind storm, you are pretty much on your own until it clears. etc.

    As a paramedic and wilderness medic for 17 years, most folks who do not routinely go to the desert dont realize the risk they are taking. there is no 911. there is no ambulance, there is no real services like we are used to ASSUMING we have everywhere in the country 24/7.

    BRC provides an army of volunteers, ambulance standbys, law enforcement, fire services etc during the event. The cost of those services on a paid basis for a longer period of time would make the whole event CRAZY expensive to happen. probably more than 3-5 THOUSAND dollars and HOUR for minimal EMS/ER coverage alone. Plus air ambulance? 15-20 THOUSAND dollars per evacuation, and the standby would be a LOT> Not counting fire and law enforcement.

    There are REAL world limits on the size and druation of the event, unfortunately it is default legal and practical reality butting in…..

  273. Alyssa Royse permalink
    February 16, 2012 7:41 am

    FWIW, they did contact me almost as soon as this post picked up speed. They have been gracious and open and candid, as well as being very good listeners and very responsive. They were heading down what I think was the right path before we spoke, though I think a little “confirmation” helped. I have actually been impressed. 🙂

  274. Alyssa Royse permalink
    February 16, 2012 7:43 am

    This is a lot of what I have heard from BMORG also. And it makes sense to me. Luckily, my boyfriend is an EMT / firefighter….. But then again, we don’t have tickets. 😦

  275. February 16, 2012 9:38 am

    Lets remember what we are talking about here: ineptitude. Surrounded by the most interesting, educated, rich and sophisticated people the Earth has ever known; instead of turning to the community to problem solve, they make decisions in a vacuum. When those decisions turn out to be horrendous, this community explodes, and they tip their hat to a few key people, they STILL make the decisions in a vacuum and people like you who don’t want to move towards conflict ‘make nice’ and nothing changes. Nothing improves. Nothing evolves. People who need to go to BM will get in some how. Whatever. The tragedy that is going to happen here is that this will be another thing that they get away with. What will it take before people wise up? I’m never going to understand how people stay in the abusive relationship with the LLC…

  276. February 16, 2012 10:14 am

    it seems like last night’s response was much more professional, so they’re obviously listening – which is what the community needs to see right now. Thanks Alyssa, well done.

  277. Alyssa Royse permalink
    February 16, 2012 10:28 am

    Thank You ALL for the really sweet emails and comments. YES, I loved the ticket announcement that was delivered last night. But as much as I would love to take credit for it, I can’t do that. To do so would be to take it from the people who actually did the work.

    Within moment of this blog post hitting the psychosphere, I heard from several people in the Burning Man offices. Some “off the record,” some very much on the record. Eventually, we were all having great dialogs. They were on this path before I got to them. They were upset, scared, exhausted, and desperately trying to fix this.

    I was, at most, the little dog yipping at the heels of the herd that was already heading back to the ranch. What did make a difference, however, was all the the voices on this blog. All of YOU, who were (for the most part) intelligent, rational and clear about the problems you saw. That lent validity to it all, and also showed BMORG where they can and should be looking for help. Their actions in the last few weeks have shown that they were listening to all of us, and have reached out.

    YAY. Good work, Burners. Now, let’s get down there and make some magic. Then figure out how to keep that going year round, on and off the playa.

  278. February 16, 2012 10:47 am

    Good work. It looks like you made a huge contribution to all of this. Thanks for your gift.

  279. Anonymous permalink
    February 17, 2012 2:32 pm

    use the secret 🙂

  280. Charlie permalink
    February 27, 2012 2:06 am

    Thanks for the post – you cast some wisdom into the mix.

    Reading below on the people who are still harping on about scalpers and demand levels…

    Some numbers for you. At the time of the 2011 event there were 115,000 likes on Facebook and 50,000 sales. Therefore approx. 50% of people got tickets.

    At the time of the Great Lottety Fiasco there were 315,000 likes in Facebook. Assuming the same proportion tried to get tickets in 2012 as in 2011 then about 150,000 applied for 50,000 tickets.

    Scalping is not the issue here. Simply demand outstrips supply.

    Thanks again for your post.

  281. flying monkey permalink
    March 5, 2012 10:05 am


    First, thank you for this civil and (mostly) intelligent thread:

    I am sooo intrigued by this situation. There’s something in me that gets alerted to peculiar happenings. In a time of a bewildering number of peculiar happenings…like everywhere…this BM thing is a stand-out. From a close-in perspective, it seems that there may be a systemic disconnect between the BM executives and the rest of the community that has led to the disregard of the “core participants” in favor of a naïve gesture of opening the event to all comers.

    If you’re familiar with Spiral Dynamics, popularized by Ken Wilbur, this would be a perfect example of a blind spot of the Green Meme (baby boomers mostly), an overlaying of reality with an idealized model of “how things should be”. Well, reality usually perseveres, and the models either adapt or are shattered. We may be seeing a shattering BM overlay.

    There seems to be a confusion in the “for-profit” crew about what BM really is and what values are emergent. I have suggested that although the Spectacle aspect is a lot of fun, and quite, er, spectacular…the real juice and emergent energy is in the open-hearted community. People volunteer hugely to build their camps in a community of camps. They create the artful offerings to please their community. The already-existent community has been ignored, dissed, taken for granted, and traded away in favor of a spectacle-heavy Public Event.

    The BORG people may be wonderful, kind, intelligent, caring, etc., but they seem to be blind to the genuine emergent community that has been growing in their midst. Rather than promoting the Spectacle Event, they should have seen the bottom-up emergence of this new Community, and they could have supported the “back-street” culture that was yearly enlisting “newbies” at an organic, sustainable rate.
    That’s how most of us got to BM, we found a tribe and participated…bottom-up. Nobody ever joined a camp or tribe by winning a lottery. It’s not going to be different now. I feel compassion for the newbies who show up, possibly unprepared, unaffiliated, wanting to participate but without the surround of a camp, the mentoring of camp-mates.

    At any rate, my money’s on the scenario that “core participators” will be staying away in droves this year, finding other ways and places to gather their tribes. The playa will be over-run with wandering spectators looking for the next spectacle to be entertained by, and the truly amazing feeling of Community will be greatly diminished, maybe even lost, and the good folks that bring us Burning Man won’t be able to fix it, because they don’t really understand what is emerging or how to support it.

  282. Alyssa Royse permalink
    March 5, 2012 10:13 am

    Couldn’t agree more. I think you’re right, spot-on. It will be interesting. Still don’t know if I’m going. Still don’t know if I care.

  283. March 5, 2012 10:49 am

    “the good folks that bring us Burning Man won’t be able to fix it”

    Why, that’s right. The good folks at BM will not, can not fix this. The mind that creates the problem can not be the mind to repair it. This is just one of ten thousand embarrasing, humiliating cring-a-thons at the hands of the LLC. Alyssa’s love-fest talking about how they were ‘already going down this road’… what road is that? Another PR clean-up?

    Why can’t we just be honest, and say what’s real. Why is everything shrouded in secrecy? I’ll tell what is no longer a secret: the management of the event is SCARY! These people who dictate to us what happens and why and how and when and how much might make better desciosions if they threw darts at a wall. Flip a coin. Astrology.

    What you are seeing here is sabotage. Self-sabotage. It has to be. There can be no other reason that they do this over and over again. People who are nice enough in person. Pleasant company. Quick with a joke. They seem to be able to wash their bodies, pay their rent and operate and automobile. Then they pull one of these things. And you have to do a double take. Becuase it’s gotta be something that we don’t know.

    Why would someone do this? All of us knew this would happen. Why didn’t they know? Because they are used to ALL the control. They built this thing using fear to have control, like the Standford prison experiment. They probably didn’t do it on purpose, but that’s what we have. The gaurds are at the gate, bossing the people in line around like cops. You see it. You know EXACTLY what I mean. The DPW parade around threatening to have people ejected. Stealing stuff. Fact. These are facts. Why is this climate around the core of this thing? Everyone was attreacted to the wonderful aspects and the gifts and the free and the fun and tolerance. Why do we put up with it?

    Becuase we have no choice. We do the best we can. But if you took a private survey, you’d find that 50% of the people DETEST the gate staff. You’d find that 99% of the pepole who voulenteer see GREAT problems with the Org and 100% of them would say that the memebers of the LLC were COMPLETLY out of touch with what is happening and there is basicly an organization happening within the organization that keeps marion and larry and the others pacified while the real shit gets done.

    Everyone just does the best they can. It would have been great if this was the debacle that made everyone force them out. But it isn’t. Pepole will just smooth it over. Make nice. No conflcit here. Everything is fine. Just like it always was.

    So here we are, the smartest, most connected and rich community the Earth has ever knows. Patiently waiting for the LLC to implode over something else. Wondering if our time has come and gone, squandered by idiots who just wouldn’t fucking listen. For no reason.

    Our legacy, their legacy, our contribution to the aggregate of community driven artistic collaberation is clearly 1% or less then what it should have been. Stifled, restricted, choked down to a controlable amount for personal ego bullshit. And this is the optimistic Chicken, trying to use what happened as a map so it can’t happen again. You don’t want to hear the bad stuff. The bad stuff is bad. This is just putting the truth on the table.

    You can see it right here, the social climbing. The favoritism. The people defending. Trying to find the path of least resistance. Using a blank canvas provided to paint what THEY think is the truth instead of going through any trouble to find out how it all works. No one asking the real questions. No real answers.

    Maybe even this post will get deleted…

    We can all just do better. We are better then this. All of us. We can do better. And we will. But man, the waiting is killing me. We’re getting old…


  284. jerry permalink
    March 27, 2012 6:07 am

    i had a similar experience with the gate crew. they work in teams of 2 to distract you. while one guy was searching through the back of my panel van, the lady asked me to walk up to the cab. you just don’t think you’re going to get robbed from fellow burners like this.

    when i got to camp, i was missing several bottles of patron that i foolishly had laying out in the open.

    the gate staff WILL steal from you. never let them out of your site when they’re climbing around your stuff.

  285. Anonymous permalink
    July 14, 2012 2:39 am

    Far out and I thought the Pom’s were winger’s this whole blog is putting gme off America and spending all my hard earned holiday cash there before I arrive. Yes you don’t want me here anyway well blame yourselves for making it look so god damn fantastic and blame your Govt for de-valuing the greenback.

    Why doesn’t everyone just lay off the BMORG they have been loyal providing you with a fantastic unique festival experience the best that they know how and have not disappointed for years and now you all carry on feeling like they owe you an apology or something? Where is your loyalty and gratitude for being able to even have shared and participate in even one of the festivals over the years gone by. You lucky people! No shit, it is no wonder the thing has exploded in popularity if you all love it so much yourself.

    Firstly blame yourselve’s for not knowing how to keep a secret instead all choosing to brag how much fun the festival is by plastering such amazing photos all over social media and the web it is clearly obvious that the BM brand is going to go off like wildfire as it goes global. Would you ever advertise a house party on Facebook? No! Of course not but each one of you exhibitionists who has stuck their pics up for all the world to see has just invited the whole world to their party next year and of course who isn’t going to want to go when you make it look so god damn good.

    Supply vs demand it is simple Economics burners and anyone who is aware of how cheap it is to travel to America these days along with anyone who has half a brain to take into account that fact mixed with social media would have immediately had warning bells going off in their head it is not rocket science to figure that Math problem out. You were all given the opportunity to purchase advance tickets at the top tier price should you have wished. If the festival means so much to you then maybe you should have bought one then but you chose to risk it. Do not blame anyone but yourselves for breaking the festivals own principal rule of self reliance! Then blame your Government who has made your country an attractive travel destination in the devaluing of the US greenback.

    For all you negative sticks in the mud I doubt very much that the Playa is going to be rammed full of Fratners because as if they are going to spend there $$$’s to possibly get sandblasted or go without creature comforts like their phone for a week. Frat kids might come to ogle some boobs but I doubt for the art. I think they would rather spend their money on Cancun so don’t flatter yourselves by blaming them and scalpers.

    I think maybe also consider dishing some blame and recognition to all the international Burners who have maybe only ever been able to afford to go once before if at all because they could not afford the luxury of an American holiday. But now they are eager to participate again and were prepared to pay top tier prices in order to secure their festival holiday early as have always dreamed of BM or going back. This includes myself and another 20 odd Aussie names that I can rattle off, a handful who went last year some years ago some newbies but all artistic as fuck and keen as to get stuck in. And not to mention the planes full of English Israelis and Kiwi’s. The Aussie’s I know have spent thousands on an art car and are all hooked up with an old theme camp and same with the Poms it is just a shame that everyone who went once and loved it can all now afford to go at the very same time. My partners and my flights to the states were less than $3000 combined when last year his cost $2,200 alone so I am sorry but as flight prices go down etc then so do the flood gates open what do you do blame United Airlines for BM’s ticket probs this year?

    Be excited these people may even bring a wealth of new art and meaning to the whole experience. These people have probably dreamed of going back to BM for years but never been able to go due to your lucky country always being way too expensive to visit more than once. You lucky people you have taken it all for granted! Blame your Govt for making your country more affordable. If anything be grateful these people will be spending all their hard earned tourist dollars to give your economy a boost. New burners or not they are bloody keen if they are travelling so far and investing so much just to participate and many arriving a month early just to get set up. New burners maybe but I would bet my house half of them travel the globe and are avid artistic creative folk who seek out the best festivals in Europe, Germany, India, Thailand, Australia etc hence their journey to BM this year as it is considered the epic mother of ALL in an international’s eyes.

    I get it I would be gutted too if I had not got my shit together and missed out but hey you live and learn and can go back next year. Maybe you are right it will be a shyte year but why be so negative anyone who is as keen to spend thousands to go is going to have done there research and got hooked up properly with theme camps etc coz they are going to want to make the most of it.

    Maybe just maybe you are going to all miss out on the best year ever as so many new keen fresh artists participate in the mix.


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