The international press had a field day reporting that Burning Man was in the midst of utter disaster due to rain—but from the ground, what appeared to be a great majority of Burners (this one included) experienced the elements as more of a hassle than a catastrophe.
While Burning Man’s press office declined the RN&R’s request for a comment, its blog reads, “While a small minority of participants (from around 180 camps) felt compelled to leave while the playa was still wet for various reasons, the majority stayed until the playa dried out.”
On the whole, Burners are a necessarily overprepared bunch. At this event, there is no commerce. There are no concession stands. No creature comforts are guaranteed to ticket holders. The ratio of consumers to producers is flipped on its head. The people who attend are the same people who build the infrastructure, provide the entertainment and erect temporary “businesses” with no cash registers to provide free cocktails, coffee, steam saunas, aerial jousting arenas or whatever they may want to offer.
One example of thousands: The all-volunteer Black Rock Philharmonic performed in front of Petaluma, Calif., artist Michael Garlington’s “Chapel of Babel.” As the orchestra played Verdi’s Anvil Chorus, a dust storm obscured the view and irritated nasal passages.
Almost nobody left.