Low-key registration underway for Burning Man tickets

It's not like last year.

After last year's big Burning Man ticket freakout, it's strangely quiet this year during the brief registration window now underway to buy tickets to this year's event. The lion's share of 40,000 tickets will be sold on Feb. 13 to those who register between yesterday and this Sunday. That follows the fairly smooth offering of 10,000 tickets that were made available through core theme camps and art crews on Jan. 30.

Contrast that with last year's controversial ticket lottery system, created in reaction to the event selling out for the first time the year before, when everybody was freaking out about now. That was because initial demand for tickets far exceeded supply, the result of some combination of increased popularity, ticket scalpers, hoarding, and people simply being worried about not getting a ticket.

This year, the core members got first dibs, unlike last year's on-the-fly changes in the ticket system to ensure the infrastructure and art of Black Rock City got built. And the new ticket system this year also required pre-registration and makes another 1,000 tickets available shortly before the event in August, both designed to undermine scalpers and ease people's fears.

“I think we've hit on a process that will reset the button on people's perception of the ticket scarcity issue,” Black Rock City LLC board member Marian Goodell told me. And it was just a perception given that even last year, there were plenty of tickets that became available for face value in August.

And as much as veteran burners like to complain about this and that aspect of Burning Man, and to fantasize about all the things they might otherwise do with that time and money, the prospect of getting shut out of this beloved event still seemed to freak people out.

“People were forced to imagine they might not be able to go to Burning Man,” Goodell said.

She wouldn't say whether all 10,000 offered tickets got bought on Jan. 30, but she did say, “The group sale went really well. We're happy and the participants are happy.” Also helping ease the anxiety over buying tickets is the fact that Burning Man ditched the tiered pricing system, making all tickets $380. So, right or wrong, the widespread perception is that anyone who has the dough can make it to the playa this year without worrying about finding a ticket.