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No MOOP…And Other Burning Man Basics

August 20, 2014

On August 25th, the Burning Man Festival will kick off for the 29th time in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert. If you’re not familiar with this annual event, here’s your cheat-sheet.

  • Burning ManBurning Man began in 1986 when San Francisco man Larry Harvey and his friends decided to build a nine-foot tall effigy and set it aflame on Baker Beach. The strange ritual became an annual tradition. But when it began to draw hundreds of spectators, Harvey and his friends moved it to the Black Rock Desert in 1990.
  • Plenty of wild tales and legends surround the festival’s early years. Old-timers claim that the desert’s empty expanses served as a canvas for all sorts of mayhem. One of the few rules was “no guns in Central Camp.” The festival catered to artists and firearms enthusiasts alike. While some opted to run amok with artillery, others filled the desert with large sculptures, crazy contraptions, and performance art shows, now the backbone of the festival.
  • As the festival grew, so did the list of rules and regulations. The 1996 event resulted in one death, three serious injuries and a slew of violations from the Bureau of Land Management. The 1997 fest was relocated as a result.
  • Since its anarchic birth, Burning Man now draws tens of thousands of attendees, or “Burners,” every year who ride around on cobbled “mutant vehicles” and enjoy a wide range of other odd activities. The fest also pumps around $35 million into northern Nevada’s economy every August.
  • Like any subculture, Burners have their own lingo. “MOOP” stands for “matter out of place,” and refers to litter. “Gifting” refers to the fest’s bartering policy that forbids the use of money on nearly everything except beverages and ice. “Radical self reliance” is a term that encourages attendees to prepare themselves for several days of living in a hostile environment with high temperatures and periodic wind storms.
  • The fest essentially culminates in the burning of a colossal effigy, “The Man,” in the center of “Black Rock City,” the crescent moon-shaped festival grounds. The spectacle, which takes place on the Saturday night before Labor Day, includes a fireworks show and fire dancers. A more solemn burning of a structure called “The Temple” is the fest’s more official final event, which takes place the following night.

Have you got any crazy Burning Man stories? Feel free to share them in the comments…but please keep them SFW.

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August 20, 2014 5:15 pm

Cant wait for the “uncle john’s burning man book” or at least the three part story in the next edition….

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