December 10, 2022

After 1 week of Burning Man + 1 week of San Francisco , I came back with a strong inspiration that burned my brain. I think it was the biggest, most special experience I’ve ever had in my life. It’s been months and I still can’t get over it. Wow… Who imagined this, how could an army convince as many people as possible and how the world’s greatest minds were mobilized behind such an absurd and ingenious idea…

I don’t think there is any experience in the world beyond that. We say this as two people who both travel the world and whose profession is to organize culture and art. In addition, everything we see and think cannot come out of the box, and it lacks creativity.

I want to tell a lot. Ah, I am filled with so much emotion, inspiration and happiness… But frankly, Turkey is a place that lives with such stereotypes and prejudices that I don’t think everyone can look at Burning Man in the same parallel. I read Ekşisözlük, everyone has an opinion before they go. Prejudices fed by assumptions… It was a bit of a shame that we got to know Burning Man as a country with Şeyma Subaşı. I do not want to introduce weapons of mass destruction like prejudice in such a self-explanatory place. That’s why I’m writing with some anxiety and self-censorship, frankly.

Elon Musk, one of the burners, said, “If you haven’t been, you just don’t get it.” Indeed, human imagination is not enough to comprehend without seeing. From the photos, in the exaggerated reflections in the media, it looks like a crazy festival, but this is a distorted narrative, especially superficial to make it more mediatic. It’s actually much, much bigger than that: the men are officially establishing a temporary civilization in the middle of the desert, and this is unlike any civilization that has ever existed. Buckle up, now we’re taking you on an incredible journey.

1. I suggest you read it without skipping, because the article has a flow, if you miss one part, you will not be able to understand the other part.
2. If you see Burning Man jargon that you don’t understand, such as playa or MOOP, we have a small dictionary at the bottom of the article.

We Pressed on Burning Man

We were one of 30 people in the world who were given press passes at Burning Man. Finally, our Burning Man series is over and it’s live! The first drafts I wrote in September, the revisions I made with your comments, the translation of the articles into English and sending them to Burning Man for approval was a very intense process for me.

On the one hand, there is the excitement of this incredible chance given to us, on the one hand, the difficulty of conveying such a place that does not fit into such definitions, on the other hand, there is the responsibility of the linen contract we signed to be the press… Fortunately, before the new year, the approvals came and our article, like 4 light balls, is now on the air.

If you want to read our other articles:
Who’s Going to
Burning Man Thematic Camps at
Burning Man Burning Man Tickets and Preparations

How We Decided to Go to Burning Man

First of all, for those who don’t know us, my name is Duygu, I’m a graduate of Brown University, but I live in Istanbul. Bilgehan is also a graduate of METU business administration. After 6 years of being together, we decided to get married in 2018.

Knowing that going to Burning Man is a big dream for me, Bilgehan’s close friend Oktay from METU said, “Your wedding gift will be Burning Man with me,” and we were blown away.

Don’t think we are freebies just because we printed it, we paid for our Burning Man tickets ourselves. Oktay found the tickets so we could buy them. Tickets are so hard to find that even someone finding a ticket for you to buy is a great gift on its own.

Oktay made many Burning Man preparations as our wedding gift. Burning Man preparations are very long and grueling. There are those who prepare for months. But thanks to Oktay, we had a comfortable Burning Man experience that was not experienced by those who came for the first time.

Since we could not solve the ticket issue until the last moment, the plane tickets were very expensive. Therefore, we had to go with a 2-day journey in the form of Istanbul – Stockholm – Helsinki – San Francisco, which is more affordable, and as a result, we could only reach the area 2 days after Burning Man started.

What is Burning Man?

I’m not sure you can fit Burning Man into one description. Everyone’s way of experiencing Burning Man is different. Ask Hundred Burner and you’ll get a hundred different answers. Some see it as a party, some as meditation, some as a family…

If you ask me, Burning Man is an attempt at a new civilization. It includes all the elements that define a society: Nuclear families, extended families, a common identity, traditions, rituals and a common moral code… Although it is similar to every society so far, its mentality is very, very different:

In the middle of the desert in Nevada, a city of 70,000 inhabitants, Black Rock City, is being built every year from scratch and to exist for only one week. Its people live from all over the world and meet here for 1 week every year. Families are not formed by blood ties, things that are considered shameful like nudity outside are tolerated here, and other things that are exalted like money do not pass here. So in a way, this is a whole new civilization.

So calling Burning Man a “festival” is overly simplistic. Yes, it’s true that it offers the best entertainment the world has ever seen, but this is just one of the many pillars of civilization that has been built here. Art, entertainment, communal life, spirituality, open-mindedness and creativity form the cultural fabric of this civilization.

Unlimited Freedom?

Burning Man is perceived as a crazy place, but if you don’t know where this idea is based, that’s a very shallow definition. One of Burning Man’s greatest values ​​is to create a space where everyone feels safe and accepted. Wherever you go in the world, you will see that morality is built on taboos about nudity, sexual preferences, jobs, and appearance. In Burning Man, morality rests on the principle of being absolutely non-judgmental about personal choices. So everyone knows that they will be tolerated, so they lower their guards, open their hearts, and let themselves go, and everyone is accepted.

What would you do if no one was going to judge you for your personal choices? This is also where the entertainment aspect of the business begins.

Everything you see is magical; Castles are built and then set on fire (because there is an understanding of the worthlessness of commodities), a lamb of light the size of a truck passes by, a giant hand emerges from the ground, clothes seem like the end of the world… As the commodity becomes worthless, the absurdity and artistic expression become stronger. Somewhere in the back there is always music playing that moves you from emotion to emotion. You feel an explosion of happiness, hope and inspiration. And in this environment, you have the freedom to be yourself with all your nakedness.

That’s why everyone has a unique Burning Man experience. Because everyone is following their inner calling. Some find themselves on the fight floor, another dancing naked on top of an art car, another offering an omelet to a passerby at dusk. These are all equally acceptable ways of belonging to this society, and all are typical Burning Man sights. In other words, Burning Man is what you do with it.

The 10 Golden Rules of Burning Man

While it’s an incredibly free place, it has very strict rules, all designed to build a community of respect and harmony. These are the ethical rules of Burning Man:

1- Self-reliance
There is no infrastructure like running water or electricity in Black Rock City. Here you face the challenges of the desert alone. Food, water and shelter etc. You have to think things through beforehand. Here you need to bring everything you need to survive. You can find them all in our Burning Man Guide – Tickets, Preparations and More .

2- Leave the meta (Decommodification)
It is forbidden to use money or sell in Black Rock City. Everything inside, from alcohol to massage, is given free of charge, as a gift.

3- Gifting culture
Burning Man encourages the people of Black Rock to do one another favors without expecting anything in return. Everyone strives to give something to the Burning Man community, to improve people’s experiences. Some of them volunteer and work in the organization of Burning Man, others organize events such as parties, BBQs, open buffets, conferences and host people or present their talents to Burning Man by performing shows such as DJing / acrobatics.

It’s impressive how seriously people take the issue of providing benefits to this community. There are those who spend tens of thousands of dollars out of their own pockets to present a nice gift. But your gift doesn’t have to be expensive, you can open a station and braid the hair of people who come for an hour or two. The important thing is to provide a service to people.

4- Leave No Trace
It is important to protect nature. Nothing that doesn’t belong there should stay there. You can’t pour your drinking water on the ground, including your drinking water, because it doesn’t belong there, you have to collect even the glitter that falls on the ground because it doesn’t belong there either. By collecting not only your waste, but also your hair, you take everything back home.

5- Radical Inclusion
Disabled, elderly, child, homosexual, asexual, closed, nudist, etc… everyone and everyone is a valuable part of this society, and the people of Black Rock should embrace everyone without prejudice. DOT.

6- Radical Self-Expression
What you wear, how you decorate your bike or camp, even how you walk is a way of expressing yourself. Burning Man also encourages you to be creative and limitless. By expressing yourself, you create art and contribute to other people’s experiences at Burning Man.

7- Communal Effort
It is very important to produce together, to cooperate, to protect the people around, that is, to be united. They have done surprisingly well in a society like America where individuality is at its peak. People also have a deep sense of belonging. There is a saying “The playa provides”, it describes the culture of cooperation here. For example, something happened to your food stock for 1 week and you were left out. Don’t worry, people will feed you, feed you or find a solution to your situation.

8- Responsibility towards society (Civic Responsibility)
People must observe the good of society and the law in all their behavior. So it’s not actually a rule from Burning Man, it’s more of a reminder.

9- Participation
The principle that change in the world must begin in the person. They explained Burning Man in their rule book as “Everyone must do their part to exhibit behavior that will open people’s hearts”.

10- Staying in the moment (Immediacy)
Not staying in the moment disconnects us from our inner world, from the people around us, and from nature. Burning Man “Not just physically; be here as a head as well”.

We can say that; In general, everyone is very loyal to these 10 principles. In particular, I would like to say that no one is chasing photos with a camera in their hands. Of course, people take pictures, immortalize their memories, but that’s it. We haven’t seen him tear himself apart for Instagram like that. There are always bumps like Paris Hilton, but they’re in the minority to ignore.