Are you an artist?

Burning Man has long been an outlet for the creative community around the United States and even the world.  No matter what your medium, it is likely welcome on the playa. When most people think of the term “artist,” we imagine a person who creates art for a living, or perhaps one who does art-type things obsessively and nothing else.  Picasso, Michelangelo, my cousin, but not me. I take pictures, build things, or write a new piece of music or a story…  just for fun.  Being an artist can mean so much more than making your living from selling your art. The most accepted definition is “a person who produces works in any of the arts that are primarily subject to aesthetic criteria.” That is a seriously broad definition.

Many of us are artists, but not many of us are professional artists. The question asked here was very simple, and left the interpretation of the term “artist” up to the respondent.  It was simply “Do you consider yourself an artist?” Only 35% said that yes, they do consider themselves artists.  The largest percentage, 46%, giving a nod to the pros, said that they are not an artist, but they are creative. Finally, 19% said no, they are not an artist. How about you? Are YOU an artist? How do you define “artist” in your world?





Written by:  Wendi (Neverland) Corbin

Edited by: Steven Michael Crane (Indiana)


Gender Identities in Black Rock City

Written by Veronica Santistevan

Edited by Steven Michael Crane (Indiana)

Gender ratios often seem to be a tricky thing.  We want Burning Man to be open to people of all genders, without bias against any who might want to join the fun. Luckily, Burners represent all genders well. In 2014, 58.2% of Black Rock City inhabitants identified as male, while 40.6% identified as female, and 1.2% brought home the total with fluid gender identifications.

BM Gender


We have seen some changes from previous years in the proportions of gender attendance at Burning Man. Compared to 2012’s male count, we have observed a 2% decrease. The proportion of individuals attending that identify as gender fluid has also undergone a decrease at the event, dropping just by less than half of a percent. The female Burner population has made up the difference by increasing by slightly over 2% since 2012.

Gender Trended

Arrivals and Departures

Sometimes, it can seem like getting into Burning Man can take forever! At times there are even major delays – just this past year the gate was closed for an entire day due to rain. Although the large majority of Burners do make the long, slow drive along the playa to the entrance gate, that is not the only way into Black Rock City. In our survey of Burners, we learned that about 4% of the community does not enter through the front gate in private vehicles.


The Burner Express Bus accounts for nearly half of the entrances not through a private vehicle at the front gate. Additionally, 0.8% of you, or about 500 people, entered through the airport, while the remainder used other transportation methods or shuttles. So, although the front gate sees nearly everybody, about 2,500 people total have other transportation methods.

Of those who do travel by private vehicle, the breakdown of vehicle choice is fairly even among two distinct groups. First, about equal numbers of vehicle users travel by car, RV, SUV, or trucks with trailers, at 20% each. About 10% use a pickup. And bus, semi-trucks, motorcyclists, and walk-ins account for a small minority of vehicle users. Based on peak population numbers of 66,000, about 900 people arrived without a vehicle.2014.ArrivalsVehicleType

Looking at the number of people per vehicle, most cars arrived with two people, while about 40% arrived with three or more; this carpooling was perhaps driven by the limited availability of car passes.2014.ArrivalsNumberInVehicle

Getting into the city itself is not the only part of the journey. For many people, driving from home to the event is doable, albeit long; however, many people cannot drive because to do so is unrealistic (if from the East Coast) or impossible (if international). As a result, the Reno airport sees a great deal of traffic from Burners flying into a convenient location prior to making their way to Black Rock City.

Most people who flew for some part of their journey arrived in Reno, at 9.7% of the BRC population. The next most common, and the largest nearby airport hub, was San Francisco International (SFO), with just slightly less at 9.1%. The remainder spread out among other California/Nevada airports. Finally, 0.9% flew into the BRC airport, matching those who stated they flew directly rather than drive (shown in the first figure, above).2014.ArrivalsAirport

Finally, now that we have an idea about how Burners get to BRC, what about the timeline? The population of Black Rock City was asked about their arrival and departure days. The figure below shows when people arrived at the event itself, and when they left at the end. There is a large spike on the first day for regular arrivals (Sunday), but notably, over 25% of the population of BRC arrived Monday or later, perhaps due to the large rainstorm that delayed many entries. On the other end of the spectrum, Sunday proved to be the most popular time to depart, after the burning of the Man. Even so, nearly 50% stayed until Monday or later, witnessing the Temple burn and to help clean up after the event.2014.ArrivalsDepartures

Written by David DiTullio

Edited by Steven Michael Crane (Indiana)

The Languages of Burning Man

Burning Man brings together individuals from all over the world to a single community in which everyone participates as equals. One of the most exciting aspects of this melding of so many different people is the exposure to so many different cultures and experiences. Representative of this diversity among Burners is the wide array of languages spoken in Black Rock City.

Throughout the week at Burning Man, each person you encounter has a unique story and often has journeyed from far away to reach Black Rock City. However, the majority of attendees are from the United States, and so it is probably not surprising that English is the most commonly-heard language at the event as a result. 84% of Burners reported that English was their primary language. (Importantly, this is not necessarily the language they spoke at the event.)

2014.PrimaryLanguageEnglish (1)

What of the 16% of people that primarily speak a language other than English? First, it is interesting to note that this figure has risen for 2014. Whereas in the past two years, about 13% of the city primarily spoke a language other than English, this figure jumped to 16%. Given the attendance of 66,000 people, this represents about 2,000 additional non-native English speakers at the event.

2014.PrimaryLanguageOtherTrended (1)

Looking at which languages Burners speak, there is, as expected, a wide diversity. Most common after English are two of the romance languages, French at 2.8% and Spanish, slightly lower at 2.6%. Given that approximately 66,000 people attend the event, these numbers work out to approximately 1,700 to 1,800 people each—a significant portion.

Russian and German also had strong representation among this group of non-English speakers, with more than 1% of the community. Over a dozen other languages saw representation of less than 1%, with representation from every continent except Antarctica. For reference, if a language was spoken by 0.1% of the population, that means that about 60-70 people were native speakers of the language. While that may not seem like a large number, given the number of people one can interact with on a daily basis in Black Rock City, it means that you have likely, at some point, met and talked with people that collectively speak nearly a dozen different primary languages in Black Rock City, whether you realized it or not!


Finally, if this wasn’t enough to demonstrate just how much reach Burning Man has across the globe, over 1,000 people spoke a language not directly surveyed. While some languages may have only had a handful of native speakers representing them at Burning Man, in Black Rock City even just one person can have substantial reach, spreading their knowledge and experience to hundreds of people during their time there. Next time you’re on the playa, pay attention to the languages you hear and the culture they represent—each is the chance to make a new friend, and learn something new about the world!


Written by David DiTullio

Edited by Steven Michael Crane (Indiana)

Camping by RV in 2014 )'(

IMG_3874 (1)

A few years back I found a playa wife who has an RV, and in our wedding vows that we took at the Church of Elvis, she granted me one day a year to come and stay with her in her RV. So now each Burn I show up in her camp on Saturday afternoon. She lets me in to her air conditioned parlor, bakes me banana bread, lets me shower, lets me sleep in a queen size bed and she washes my clothes. We all can’t be as lucky as this all the time on playa but I get to have it for one day.

RV are expensive – the price tag, the gas, the storage place when not in use, the upkeep – the cost is noticeable. This expense is reflected in our data showing RV ownership according to income. The probability of having an RV is 55.8% for those who make over $300k a year. If you made a $100k  to $150k, the probability is down to 36%. Those earning $50k a are 25.6% likely to camp in an RV, and that drops to 17.9% among those earning $25k a year. And believe it or not, 17.5% of people who make less than $7.5k a year show up to the event in an RV. But the most impressive fact was that 21.8% who reported no income at all also stay in an RV.


2014 data also show that 35.6% of virgins stay in RVs, and folks with 1 or 2 burns under their belts use RVs at a rate of 20.6%.  Veteran Burners with 3 to 4 burns were 13.6%  likely to have an RV and those with 5 to 7 burns were 13.6% likely to camp in an RV.  I would think the older you get the more needy you get for the comforts of default world but only 8.9 % of the people with 11 or more Burns own RVs.


The probability of having an RV by gender from the 2014 census data is 29% for female, 28% for male, and 24% for those who identified a fluid gender.


Meanwhile, by marital status,  40% of RV owners were married, 54% were not, and 6% of RV owners claimed to be married sometimes. While the probability of having an RV by marital status was 41.4% among the married, 23.2% among the unmarried, and 25.6% among the “sometimes” married, which brings me back to my one day on playa of marital bliss.



Written by Crow

Edited by Steven Michael Crane (Indiana)

Burning Man’s Economic Impact on Nevada

In 2014 approximately 66,000 people made their way to Burning Man in the Nevada desert. We all had to get there one way or the other via plane, bus, or automobile. We all traveled through or from Nevada. There is no doubt the influx of people traveling to Burning Man has an impact on the Nevada economy. But just how much money do Burners really spend? It’s a fair question, given it does cost the state money to host the event. As seen below, slightly less than 60% of our participants spend between $250.00 to $2,500 in Nevada before or after the event. In looking at both ends of the graph 37% spend $250.00 or less and just over 3% spend more than $2,500. The estimated direct spending by participants in Nevada for 2014 was $45 million. No small change! Econoic Impact-image-3   Let’s look at how this spending has been changing over time: 2014.NVspend.trended The next question is how do we spend our money in Nevada? You can see from the graph below most of us spend our money on things we need to attend the event. No matter how you get to Burning Man, you will need to eat and get gas along the way, at the very least.  Others sleep the night and some even recreate in the Silver State. If my fellow Burners are like me you may also find yourself buying a few last minute supplies (or even a whole camp’s worth) to make your experience more comfortable or enjoyable while you are a citizen of Black Rock City. 2014.NevadaSpendingWhere Do we stop along the way and visit Nevada’s other attractions? The answer to that question is a definite “yes.” 25% of our participants visited a park or recreation area on their way to or from the event. Coming from Oregon, my group does take the time to look for new parks and areas to explore on our way to and from Black Rock City. Part of the experience is getting to and from Burning Man. 2014.NevadaPark Enjoy your trip this year, fellow Burners, and please do be responsible guests in Nevada.

Written by  Tammy Lesueur

Edited by Steven Michael Crane (Indiana)

Information Sources for Burners

Written by Mu

Edited by Scribble

Without internet or even the daily newspaper our parents could rely on, we are forced to find out what is going on the old fashioned way; radio, word of mouth, and our trusty WWW (i.e., the What Where When Guide). Numerous staff members, volunteers and fellow burners put an immense amount of effort in creating all these different information sources about the event and how to have the most awesome experience possible.

While we at the Census, in typical nerd fashion, download the events calendar, a.k.a., the What Where When Guide, a month in advance and plan our Burn minute-by-minute, most of you do not. In fact, only a quarter of us look at it pre-event. At the same time, two-thirds use it at the event and most of us keep it for a souvenir, mine is typically worn to shreds by then end and only fit to be burned. Though even after painstakingly putting together our calendar, we still toss it aside once on Playa and wander around for serendipitous encounters, checkout things to do at Playa Info; or tuning into BMIR for the latest riffs and happenings. Then we wake up the next morning, look around and and grab the WWW Guide and start a new day.


What Where When Guide Usage*

In the absence of World Wide Web on-Playa, most participants found the WWW “Very” or “Extremely” useful.

2014.WWWguideHowUsefulWith very few commercial radio stations accessible on Playa and the sound camps segregated to the edges of the city, in steps BMIR and a full dial of on Playa broadcast choices.  Burning Man Information radio ( has been a fixture at BM since 2000, providing the “Voice of the Man” to anyone with a FM radio or internet connection. It’s unmissable as you walk by the loudspeakers on your way to Center Camp, but over 88% listen to this great resource on Playa from their radios. Interestingly, over 25% are listening to BMIR from their mobiles on the road to and from the event, making it a constant burner companion.


Listened to Burning Man Information Radio?*

Off-Playa, our options for finding out about Burning Man are greatly expanded. Jack Rabbit Speaks proves to be most popular. Word of Mouth from fellow Burners tends to the next most popular source at 90%. Then there is all the social media, the Burning Man website and everything else.

Information Sources*

People leverage all of these great off-Playa resources with different ends in mind.  We mainly want to see pictures and hear about BM Events. However, given how complex surviving in the desert is and the lengths people go to radically self-express, radically self-rely and radically participate, it isn’t surprising that information concerning  preparing for the event is useful to 44% of us, newbies and veterans alike.

Most Valuable Information Sources*

Most Valuable Information Sources*

What this emphasizes is the thriving mix of the Burner resources, leveraging both sources of information supplied by the org as well as the community itself in nearly equal proportions, reflecting the nature of Burning Man that is not a festival produced for spectators but an event co-created from organizers and participants.

* Note: survey participants were allowed to select more than one answer, hence the percentages of responses sums up to greater than 100%.

Black Rock City Getting Older

By Scribble

Age of 2014 BRC Population

Age of 2014 Black Rock City Population

There is a strong perception that Burning Man is an event for young people and, in the 2014 Census, a look at our Age data does suggest this to be true. Looking at the data in detail, we see a peak population around the age of 29.

2014 BRC Age data broken into buckets

2014 BRC Age data broken into categories (buckets)

However, this isn’t the whole story; the data is actually bi-modal. Specifically, though the primary mode is in the 25-29 category with 22.6% of the population and there is an adjacency in the in the 30-34 bucket at 20.7%, there is a secondary peak in the data around the 44 years of age and the corresponding bucket of 40-49-year-olds is at 17.2% (note some of this is associated with a larger age range for this bucket). What this implies is that there may be two or more factors that are driving attendance: one for younger participants and another for older participants.

Moreover, if we look at the trends of this data since 2012, we can see a decline in populations 24-and-under year over year while populations over 35 are showing a steady, year-over-year increase.

2012-2014 Black Rock City Age Comparison

2012-2014 Black Rock City Age Comparison

Not surprisingly, this growth in upper age categories the past 3 years has been driving up the average age of the population. The average age is now around 37 up from 35 two years ago. In fact, we see as a steady increase of one-year for each year three years running, as if it is the same population coming, just getting older.

Of course, we know this is not the case with over a 3rd of participants being first timers each year, this tremendous influx of new people to the event is ironically aging along with the event.

In earlier posts, we saw that the median incomes are increasing and education levels are increasing.

Average Age for Black Rock City Trended from 2012 to 2014

Average Age for Black Rock City Trended from 2012 to 2014

These data along with the shifts in age might just be a variety of manifestations of the same shift in the population. There is a significant number of people who have committed their lives to the event and it is natural that this population ages with the event. We also see that as Burning Man grows in the conscience of western society, more are curious about attending. Unfortunately, with a maximum number of tickets available, ticket scarcity may also be creating conditions where veteran Burners who have connections to established theme camps or BM functions (i.e., DPW, Rangers, Gate, et cetera) are able to secure their tickets where others who are new to the event are forced to compete with thousands of others during ticket sales. This is speculation at this point and we’re curious about exploring these questions further.

Bicycles and Burning Man: An Unavoidable Given?

By David DiTullio

After a series of articles on the finances surrounding the journey to and from Black Rock City, we turn now to something a bit more daily practicality: bicycles! As we all remember, bikes are a staple at Burning Man. Whether you’re using a bike you’ve had for years, renting on the playa, or bringing your fresh new bike from Walmart (some assembly required), nearly everyone makes use of the ultimate clean-air vehicle.

But just how do people obtain their bicycles? The Black Rock City Census asked burners that very question. The results are shown in the figure below.


It may not surprise you to learn that nearly nine out of ten burners arranged for their own bike while on the playa. The 2014 festival brought mostly clear skies, bookended by storms of rain and dust, but it seems that few wanted to brave the possibility of a trek from deep playa back to camp on foot.

On the other end of the spectrum, 5% of the BRC population did not have a bike at all; nearly half wished for one, while slightly more, or 3% of all burners, accepted their bike-less status. Whether these individuals drove mutant vehicles, or preferred to experience the festival on foot, we do know that there is a subpopulation that is content to defy the oft-traded advice that a bicycle is essential in Black Rock City.

Finally, about 8% of burners were able to obtain bikes through other means, such as borrowing from a friend who had a bike, or using community bikes maintained within their camps or other groups. Certainly, among the population of burning man, such resourcefulness is the norm.

While this post offers just an overview of the status of bicycles at Burning Man, perhaps we can glean some potential strategies of our own for next year: you may have an opportunity to lend your bike to a friend. Or perhaps one day you may decide to set the bicycle aside, to experience Black Rock City on foot. Though you may be a pedestrian, BRC is sure to be anything but.

How Much Did You Spend Going to Burning Man?

Written by Sangye

Edited by Scribble

Only the most naive newbie or the most desperately-optimistic hippie would plan to show up at the Burning Man Gate without a ticket in hand, hoping to find a surplus of tickets at the Box Office or a kindly scalper waiting for someone to relieve him of a pair.

Garnering a ticket for an event has become an annual ritual involving elaborate planning, camping out on the phone on sale-days, worming your way into the right theme camps’ directed ticket sale or slaving away for years to get a DPW pass. The difficulty in obtaining tickets these days has led people into believing that there must be a thriving black market for tickets. As noted in earlier posts, there is a rise in the median income of attendees which further exacerbates this suspicion. So in 2014, we asked Burners specifically where they got their tickets, how much did they spend to get it, and how much did they spend overall to attend the event to understand whether the overall costs were rising for people.

Tickets can range anywhere from $190.00 for low income tickets to $800.00 for pre-sale tickets. However, the majority of attendees buy their tickets for $390.00 per ticket. The graph below shows 79% of us paid face value for our tickets. Despite a few people selling tickets for $1,000.00 or more online, the community stubbornly protects the ideal if you resale your ticket you should not make money off that sale! I also feel it’s commendable to the community that 10% of our participants were gifted their tickets.2014.TicketCost


I know you can find Burning Man tickets for sale on line from several ticket sales outlets and private parties, so it might surprise you that, in 2014, less than 1% reported buying their ticket from a 3rd party vendor. When you look at where people bought their tickets, 72% bought them from the Burning Man organization and that number includes STEP. When people bought resale tickets, up to 19% of them purchased them from someone they knew.


You’ve paid the price of admission how much more is it going to cost you to get yourself to Burning Man for a week. According to the 2014 Census 68% of us spent anywhere from $500.00 to $2,500.00 to attend. That’s not too bad considering you cannot buy anything other than ice and coffee once you are “home” in Black Rock City. For 7 days in the desert, participants are paying from just under $100.00-a-day, up to $350-a-day for food, lodging, drink, transportation, et cetera. Thirteen percent spent less than $500 for 7 days or about $72 a day, and 19% of participants spent anywhere from $350 to over $700 a day. On average Burning Man is priced within what the average American spends on a vacation. According to travel section, most of us will spend an average of $150 to $200 a day on vacation. I will admit when questioned by family and friends is going to Burning Man worth all the time, effort and cost? My answer has always been without hesitation, “yes”.