Don’t Panic: One Burner’s View of the Lottery

Don't Panic

I realize there is a lot of hurt and anger over the ticketing debacle.
I’m not going to beat the optimist drum because optimism doesn’t spontaneously generate tickets…but then neither does pessimism.

The cold hard facts:
1) Burning Man has increased in popularity
2) There is a population cap for BRC and we’ve reached it
3) Not every burner goes to burning man every year
4) Not everyone who CURRENTLY has a confirmed ticket will actually be going to the burn this year
5) There’s lots of trepidation about the lottery and how it’s changed the burner makeup–there is always a modicum of fear around big changes
6) There’s a lot of anger and pessimism for people who didn’t get tickets who were planning on it.
7) Burning man means a lot of different things to 70,000.00+ people now, we CAN respect that…even if we don’t share or agree with someone’s personal beliefs.


Likely scenarios:
1 & 2) There are going to be more people at burning man in the future until popularity dwindles. This could also mean that there are bigger regional burns, or even biannual burns at some point to deal with the population load if Burning Man’s popularity continues to increase. But that’s in the future. Something we can look forward to, even work to actualize if we want.
3 & 4) People are going to discover that there’s a greater cost to burning man than buying a ticket and throwing some faux-fur and army surplus gear into a backpack and going to a beach rave. Some will go and never return. Some will come back another time. Some will become life long burners, and some won’t even make it this year. Odds are, there’s going to be a lot of the last type. Just because someone has a ticket doesn’t mean they’ll actually use it. Tickets are expensive, it’s not the type of investment someone’s just going to “eat” some will likely show up on STEP, others through other avenues of resale and sharing. It’s on each and every one of us who absolutely-has-to-go this year to find a way to make it happen, it’ll be a challenge, but not an impossible one.
5-7) Change is the only constant in life. Diversity is a good thing, be it ideas, genetics or whatever. If Diversity was a bad thing, everyone would think like everyone else, we’d all look alike, dress alike, speak the same language and eat the same food. How boring would that be? There’s going to be people at the burn that don’t respect the temple. There’s going to be people at the burn that don’t respect each other. There’s going to be people at the burn whom many long time burners would consider to be the antithesis of what it means to be a burner…There are black-sheep in every culture, people, city and family. Why should Black Rock City be immune?


This post originally appeared on the Temple Guardian google group. Here’s a little bit about the author:

Kodiak McStopin-Boots: I’m 29, part of camp WABI located in the Alternative Energy Zone, live in Seattle and work as a health administrator.  In my spare time I hike and hunt for mushrooms in the Cascades and make art and jewelry.  My educational background in anthropology.  I realized after going to Burning Man, that I’d been a burner all my life, I just didn’t know that’s what it was called, it was the first time I’d felt at home outside of the forest.  I won’t say that Burning Man changed my life, but what I learned there changed me.  I hope I can give back to the community what I’ve gotten from it: understanding, a home and friendship.

2 Responses to “Don’t Panic: One Burner’s View of the Lottery”
  1. The biggest problem with this fiasco is that they’re playing fast and loose with their own rules. Yes, following the original plan would have had a number of negative side effects, but they’re all rather small compared to what is a clear breach of trust. What’s to stop them from deciding last minute that to get in the gate you need to be part of a theme camp? Perhaps they’ll decide to raise additional revenue by adding a supplemental fee for those wishing to sit closer to the man on burn night?

    On a personal note, the new STEP program is limited only to people who registered for the first lottery, which completely fraks people like myself who decided to skip the first lottery and participate in later rounds. That’s a big FU to everyone who didn’t want to commit a whopping 8 months in advance.

  2. Kodiak
    Danielle "Kodiak Mc-Stompin Boots" Bissonnette

    First off, let me offer my sympathies to your ticket situation. I don’t have one either. That said, I’m going to try and adress your concerns in order asked:

    What’s to stop them from deciding last minute that to get into the gate you need to be part of a theme camp?
    * The potential for a riot. If enough people took offense to being told that they had to be part of a theme camp to get through the gates (and after driving 3-17 hours, or flying from half way around the world, spending countless thousands of dollars and hauling themselves to the desert hinterlands of Nevada, do you really think burners would stand for that like sheep in some beurocratic abotoir?–no, they’d probably riot!) and after they rioted, many would likely decide not to buy tickets the following year, the org would be screwed. There can be no burning man without burners. Look at the cluster that’s arisen around the vollunteer core and city builders not getting enough tickets this year. That was the direct cause of the cancelation of the open sale. Not having enough core folks meant a HUGE shift in tickets. What you’re describing, would fan the flames of their own destruction at this point.

    Perhaps they’ll decide to raise additional revenue by adding a supplemental fee for those wishing to sit closer to the man on burn night.
    * Seeing as how a scholarship program ticket and a $420 ticket get you the same amenities at the burn, this scenario seems doubtful. The outcry over such a move would likely be large and therefore prohibitive (It goes against the principle of Radical Inclusion and employs a capitalist price tag on a gift economy) even if they did, how would they enforce it without hiring security?

    Nobody knew that demand was going to be so high, and no one who waited for the main sale knew it was going to be canceled, but burners were also aware that there was a ticket sell-out in 2011, and that there was the potential in 2012. Even if things were done the same as they always had been, there was the potential for those who waited to buy their tickets, that there wouldn’t be one available when they were ready to purchase. Currently it’s not known how many of the tickets out there will go back into circulation once the holders discover that they can’t go to the burn this year, and it’s unlikely that all those tickets will go through STEP, because STEP doesn’t allow you to pick who the ticket goes to. For some burners, that’s the choice of seeing a friend or camp mate go in their stead, versus someone they don’t know.

    Good luck. I hope you find your ticket home!


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