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Burning Man 2009 - "Evolution"

Learn Before You Burn


Burning Man, Black Rock City, Black Rock Desert, Reno Art Festivals

The Man burns at Burning Man.

Photo © Stan White
Updated August 07, 2010
Burning Man 2010 is August 30 - September 6. The 2010 art theme is Metropolis. Tickets go on sale January 13, 2010. Stay tuned for more updates.

Burning Man 2009 is from August 31 through September 7, with this year's theme being Evolution. If you plan on going or are just thinking about becoming a burner (resident of Black Rock City), it isn't too early to start getting ready. This is especially true if you've never been to Burning Man. The Black Rock Desert playa is harsh and remote; don't show up without reading through the Burning Man website to get an understanding of what's involved. I say this not to discourage you, but to help you enjoy the unique experience Burning Man has to offer.

Read the Burning Blog, Get the Burning Man Newsletter, Connect on Facebook

A good source for information from those who have been there is The Burning Blog. You can talk to veteran burners, ask questions, or just lurk and see what you find.

The Jack Rabbit Speaks is the official Burning Man newsletter. I think it's a good idea to subscribe so you can keep up on any Burning Man news without much effort. Get on the mailing list at The Jack Rabbit Speaks email list page.

Burning Man on Facebook is another way to hook up with Burners and learn more about the Burning Man festival.

Get Your Burning Man Tickets

After having no ticket sales at Black Rock City in 2008, Burning Man will again be offering tickets at the gate. Here is the official word - "While we STRONGLY encourage participants to plan ahead and buy their tickets early, for 2009 we will be selling tickets at the Box Office of the event. Tickets at the Box Office will cost $360 each, and may be purchased with cash or credit card only. No personal checks will be accepted."

However, this is the most expensive way to get tickets and it could be a real hassle out in the hot playa sun. Plan ahead and go to Burning Man Ticket Information to find out how to get your tickets.

There are walk-in ticket outlets in Sacramento and the Bay Area. If you get as far as Reno with no ticket, your only choice is The Melting Pot at 1049 S. Virginia St., Reno, NV 89502. In fact, The Melting Pot is your only choice in all of Nevada. The deadline for walk-in ticket outlet sales is Friday, August 28, 2009, or sooner if supplies run out. The only forms of payment accepted are cash, money order, or cashier's check. No credit or debit cards, and no personal checks.

Deadline for Internet ticket sales is Friday, August 28, 2009, at midnight PST. If you are buying tickets online, be sure to read all the info about what you need to pick them up. Your tickets will be waiting for you at Will Call at the entrance to Black Rock City.

If You Are A Virgin, Read This

In Burning Man lingo, virgins are first-time burners, and burners are those who have been there before. However, virgin status seems to go away almost as soon as you enter Black Rock City, at which time you become a burner. At least I think that's how it works. As I recall, my rite of passage occured the first time I passed through the portal from the real world into Black Rock City. I rang the bell as directed by the greeter, yelled "I'm not a virgin!" and became a burner right there. Anyone can do it.

You've got to plan ahead to make Burning Man work for you and everyone else. Read everything on the Burning Man Preparation website and you will arrive ready to make the leap from virgin to burner.

About the Burning Man Location

Burning Man creates Black Rock City a few miles north of the town of Gerlach, on the playa of the Black Rock Desert. This is over 100 miles north of Reno and gives tangible meaning to the term "middle of nowhere." During Burning Man, Black Rock City magically emerges from the playa dust to become Nevada's 7th largest city for a week. In 2008, the peak population was around 49,000. It continues to amaze me how this appears and disappears in such a harsh and remote place. Get a grip on just where it is with Burning Man Nevada Maps.

Burning Man is held on public land under a permit from the Bureau of Land Management. The area is officially called the Black Rock Desert / High Rock Canyon Emigrant Trails National Conservation Area. For obvious reasons, local desert rats just call it the NCA or the Black Rock. Learn more from the Friends of Black Rock / High Rock.

Want to see what Gerlach looks like? Check out the Burning Man Gerlach Live Webcam. If the wind hasn't blown it askew, you'll get a view of beautiful downtown Gerlach and the Black Rock playa beyond.

After the Burn - Recycling in Reno and Sparks

After a week on the playa, you will accumulate a ton of trash, much of which can and should be recycled. Aluminum cans (nothing else) can be easily disposed of at Recycle Camp at Center Camp in the middle of Black Rock City. These are donated to Gerlach School. Recycle Camp does not collect foil, glass, plastic, tin, paper, cardboard, or any garbage.

Back in Reno and Sparks, there are a number of free places to leave recycleables, and some low-cost sites for depositing the real garbage. Go to the Burning Man website for a list of recycling centers, dumps, and greywater disposal sites. If you hauled it out to the playa, it's your responsibility to take it with you on leaving and to dispose of it properly.

McCain to Campaign in Black Rock City

Okay, this is an April Fool spoof done up in 2008 as a press release from the Burning Man people. We can all use a good laugh and this is pretty funny. Maybe McCain and Palin should have really showed up - probably wouldn't have made much difference in the election, though.

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