Burning Man tickets sell out for the first time

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These have suddenly become a hot commodity.

For the first time in the event's 25-year history, tickets to Burning Man have sold out. With more than a month left to go before the gates to Black Rock City open at midnight on Aug. 28, burners have already started a mad scramble for spare tickets through various message boards and online networks.

Shortly after tickets started selling at the fastest pace ever on Jan. 20, officials with Black Rock City LLC, the SF-based company that staged Burning Man in Nevada's Black Rock Desert, privately warned that they may sell out this year. The event, which last year peaked at almost 52,000 attendees, is limited by its permits with the US Bureau of Land Management and BRC's own desire to control its ever-growing size.

A couple months ago, the company announced that tickets would not be available at the gate (which had happened only once before, in 2008) and urged burners to get their tickets because it could sell out. Then, over the weekend, that's what happened. "This is new territory," BRC board member Marian Goodell told the Guardian, noting that its BLM permit (which is up for renegotiation after this year's event) calls for capping the population at last year's level. "If we didn't have the BLM permit restrictions, we could manage an increased population."

BRC, nicknamed the Borg, had privately been trying to dampen public speculation that the event would sell out, worried that scalpers would make a run on tickets. It's illegal in California to sell tickets for more than their face value, and it has traditionally been a strong part of the burner ethos not to profit off reselling of the tiered-pricing tickets (which ranged from $210-360 this year). But that will be tested this year by the laws of supply and demand. There have also been counterfeit ticket scams exposed recently, and that will be an even greater concern now that legitimate ticket outlets are no longer an option, although the Burning Man website lists ways to check whether a ticket is legitimate.

Meanwhile, BRC has been settling into its new headquarters in Mid-Market Street area, and it has recently announced an Aug. 5 launch date for The Burning Man Project, the new nonprofit organization that will slowly began taking over control of the event over the next several years, with a kickoff party in United Nations Plaza starting at 5 pm.

For more on Burning Man during this important transitional year, look for the Guardian's special Playa Prep issue hitting the streets on Aug. 3; grab a copy of my new book, The Tribes of Burning Man; or attend one of my upcoming book-related events. And, if you can manage to get a ticket, I'll see you on the playa.

Comments

“The event, which last year peaked at almost 52,000 attendees …”

“the tiered-pricing tickets (which ranged from $210-360 this year)”

- Award-winning journalist Steven T. Jones

So the promoters are taking in from $10,920,000 to $18,720,000.

Posted by Arthur Evans on Jul. 25, 2011 @ 1:26 pm

They publish the event budget yearly on burningman.com. After permitting, infrastructure costs, grants, etc. it's not as much $ as you might think.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 25, 2011 @ 2:15 pm

Actually, the financial report the company publishes is only the expenditure side of the equation, but that does give you a good idea where the money goes. It used to publish a line about the balance being carried over into the next year, but it stopped doing that in 2007, making it difficult for outsiders to gauge the actual fiscal health and assets of BRC.

Posted by steven on Jul. 25, 2011 @ 2:21 pm

promoter dont get anything. its a non profit so 90% of the work is done for free. and the money goes into a mystey place.....

Posted by Guest on Jul. 26, 2011 @ 7:29 pm

Burning Man is currently a for-profit organization. Per the arcticle, "it has recently announced an Aug. 5 launch date for The Burning Man Project, the new nonprofit organization that will slowly began taking over control of the event over the next several years."

Posted by Guest on Jul. 29, 2011 @ 6:07 am

The one piece of information I can't seem to find anywhere: How many tickets were actually sold? What was the cap before they were "sold out?"

Posted by Adrian Roberts on Jul. 25, 2011 @ 1:32 pm

Good question, Adrian, but it's one the Borg won't answer. I just talked to Borg member Marian Goodell, and all she'll say is they needed to keep the numbers at no more than last year's levels for BLM permit reasons. But with free tickets being given away to many volunteers, artists, and even City Hall officials -- and the Borg won't say now many that is -- we don't know exactly how many were sold. I'll update my post with info from Marian.

Posted by steven on Jul. 25, 2011 @ 2:18 pm

“the financial report the company publishes is only the expenditure side of the equation … It used to publish a line about the balance being carried over into the next year, but it stopped doing that in 2007, making it difficult for outsiders to gauge the actual fiscal health and assets of BRC … ”

- Award-winning journalist Steven T. Jones

Shouldn’t a nonprofit org that handles tens of millions of dollars be more transparent to the public?

Shouldn't an award-winning journalist unearth the info?

Posted by Arthur Evans on Jul. 25, 2011 @ 3:26 pm

Which City Hall officials get free tickets to burning man?

Posted by old burner on Jul. 25, 2011 @ 4:55 pm

Members of the Board of Supervisors and their aides, as well as influential members of the Mayor's Office, have been given free Burning Man tickets for many years. Many Burning Man employees are also usually given a few gift tickets to hand out, and big art projects (particularly those that get art grants from the Borg) are given many free tickets to cover those who spend months working on the projects. As I said, I don't know how many free tickets are given out and because the Borg is an LLC, it is under no legal obligation to disclose details like that (I have asked, and they are very guarded about how many tickets are given away). I assume the transparency will improve once operations of the event are finally turned over to the new nonprofit.

Posted by steven on Jul. 26, 2011 @ 9:54 am

Because nonprofits have a stellar track record of accountability and effectiveness.

Posted by marcos on Jul. 26, 2011 @ 10:02 am

Why, pray tell, do you ask? Considering some kind of barter?

Posted by Guest on Jul. 29, 2011 @ 3:33 pm

Guess i'm the first to need a ticket :-)

Please email me at ericbaudry@yahoo.com if you can help me out.

Thanks!

Posted by Eric on Jul. 25, 2011 @ 2:49 pm

Actually, Burning Man is an LLC, not a non-profit. It just doesn't operate in a way that prioritizes maximizing profit. And it's hard to figure on the total revenue from ticket sales since many tickets are given to volunteers for their efforts and discounted to staff for theirs. About to go Non-profit though so all should become much more clear

Posted by Guest on Jul. 25, 2011 @ 4:49 pm

Actually the voulenteers dont get free tickets , its very well known. and is stated in the voulenteer aplication. and there are no discount tickets for staff. Thats where a lot of the hipocrocy comes to play...

Posted by Guest on Jul. 26, 2011 @ 7:33 pm

They do I've been getting them for years you just need to do ALOT of work

Posted by Guest on Jul. 26, 2011 @ 8:26 pm

Hi
I need 3 tickets for Burning Man 2011 !!
Please contact me : severinemorel@free.fr if I can buy some.
Thanks !

Posted by Guest on Jul. 26, 2011 @ 4:36 am

The scalpers will have a field day. The winners who get tickets will be those who can afford to pay the highest prices.

There's a name for this process - capitalism.

And all this is an alternative - to what?

Posted by Arthur Evans on Jul. 26, 2011 @ 9:08 am

This year Burning Man has "Sold Out". It has gone from a social movement with seemingly infinite trans formative power to an alternative tourist attraction regulated by the government. For me this year marks Burning Man's metamorphosis from one of the great social experiments of our time into a government regulated commercial circus, complete with tour packages for those who want to see the circus freaks.

So where's the real people's party now that Burning Man has "SOLD OUT"? Where can people gather and share without paying for the opportunity to share freely?

I expect such truly non commercial gatherings will occur during the time of the Burning Man Circus and will represent the real movement of free people freely gathering and sharing.

Posted by Guest Pat the Digital Vagabond on Jul. 26, 2011 @ 11:51 am

Yes...this is all very interesting. We who are now exiled from the land of "all be free" now need a new place. How about the Alvord desert in SE Oregon? We who have been denied access to BM should all converge the week of BM. It's similar to Black rock but with beauty, isolation, hot springs on it's edge, and almost always vacant. I can see it now, "A new gathering began in 2011 in response to Burning Man putting on a suite and tie." Let us begin.

Posted by Guest Back40Kent on Jul. 27, 2011 @ 5:06 pm

Please do not bring your shaggy ass rave camp to Oregon.

Posted by Oregon Ex Burner on Jul. 30, 2011 @ 9:06 am

Yes...this is all very interesting. We who are now exiled from the land of "all be free" now need a new place. How about the Alvord desert in SE Oregon? We who have been denied access to BM should all converge the week of BM. It's similar to Black rock but with beauty, isolation, hot springs on it's edge, and almost always vacant. I can see it now, "A new gathering began in 2011 in response to Burning Man putting on a suite and tie." Let us begin.

Posted by Guest Back40Kent on Jul. 27, 2011 @ 5:07 pm

it stopped resembling a counter social movement in 1996. since then the borg has been exploiting the sentiment of the counter-counterculture, and misleading would-be participants into believing they were doing something 'important'.

finally, the event is undeniably mainstream. before they could hide it with a lot talk - but now that the scalpers are controlling the price of tickets - it's just cochella in the desert now.

next year, the only people on the playa will be the free laborers and yuppies and it will never change.

stasis is a stage of evolution.

Posted by pentt on Aug. 02, 2011 @ 7:49 am

And also fascinating to watch the birth of a new multimillion dollar business empire.

In the case of Burning Man, we get to see both happening at the same time. Double joy!

I doubt, though, that The Guardian's Steven T. Jones will be the one to break the ramifications of this story to the public.

Can you guess why?

Posted by Arthur Evans on Jul. 26, 2011 @ 12:44 pm

I've written an entire book about the ramifications of Burning Man's rapid growth in recent years, Arthur, but clearly you'd rather just offer juvenile taunts than try to learn a little something about what you're trying to write about, which is why you keep getting your facts wrong and posing irrelevant questions. Is that reasonable?

Posted by steven on Jul. 26, 2011 @ 12:55 pm

Thank you, Steven, for your reply above.

Could you tell us briefly your major conclusions about Burning Man as a new religion and multimillion-dollar business empire?

Thanks.

Posted by Arthur Evans on Jul. 26, 2011 @ 1:15 pm

Why would Steven grace these pages with his conclusions contained in his book? It takes a lot of work to write a book. There would then be no reason to buy the book if he relayed his conclusions to you. Buy the book! One would think that someone of your self-touted esteemed high-intellect, intelligence, civility, reason, grasp, coherence and possible business savy would not think of asking Steven such a question. How unreasonable! It sounds like you are trying to get something for nothing or to mooch off of someone's hard work.

Let's use intelligence and intellect. Let's be mature and adult. Let's be reasonable.

Posted by Artor Evons on Jul. 26, 2011 @ 1:52 pm

Stepping into this society I am forced live in.
I am getting half my paycheck taxed.
So that my government can rape the land and poison the people.
The real tribe will be absent anyways.
Why not cash in a little on Capitalism while I have the chance?
I've got a whole life ahead of me to get short changed.

Posted by College.Child on Jul. 29, 2011 @ 12:07 am

You're not forced to live here. Go move somewhere else. If you haven't been to Burning man you cannot comprehend it. Don't judge.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 29, 2011 @ 9:34 am

can't wait for 2012 when scalpers sell-out the event in 1 week (like they did with cochella).

the burning man organizers exploit this as a 'counter cultural movement' - which is so insulting to REAL counter cultural movements. finally, the event is undeniably mainstream, and the organizers can't play the counter culture card anymore! sorry, larry - you can't BS your free labor source anymore and you just lost your customer base of hipsters.

the only people on the playa in 2012 will be the yes-men volunteer slave force, and yuppies. you're even going to lose the 'school teacher on a spirit quest' demographic.

Posted by pentt on Aug. 02, 2011 @ 7:40 am

All I know is that I'm looking forward to 2011.

Nothing is absolute of course, and there are some people without tickets who I feel bad for and wish I had an extra ticket to sell at face value... But for the most part, the people who are really into participating had been planning for months and had their tickets bought a long time ago. The people who wake up the week of and say, "Hey dude, let's go up to Burning Man this weekend... see some naked chicks!" -those people won't be there.

Posted by Greg on Aug. 02, 2011 @ 8:09 am

Some of these comments are just bloody ridiculous... yes Burning Man is growing, that's what happens when you've been running an internationally-recognized festival with rave reviews for the past 16 years. If radical self-expression has become mainstream then SO WHAT? That sounds like a paradise to me. I don't see the problem. The sheer magnitude of wonderful creative energies poured into the art and performance of this festival is reason enough to go, not to mention the spirit of camaraderie and soft serve ice cream. And absinthe. And midnight french fries. And absinthe. And that giant rubber duckie with the trojan helmet that spits out fire and has spotlights for eyes (especially when the pirate galleon rolls up beside it and they have a huge dance-off battle). And the absinthe tent, I really liked the absinthe tent.
The hope lies in the fact that people who experience this event for the first time are indelibly changed for the rest of their lives in little ways that make a large difference over a lifetime (like pack it in pack it out, dancing yourself into a trance, playing tetris on a gigantic screen in the deep playa, etc.). Hurray for non-profit next year!

Posted by Mendani on Aug. 20, 2011 @ 11:43 pm

what kind of pompous ass would refer to himself as "award winning journalist"

Posted by Guest on Sep. 01, 2011 @ 8:13 pm

we euro freak group are checking out this site and wondering what is up here.....is this a joke! irony from you guys.....i know english humour is twisted but not sure where all this is going....

we are thinking to crash your party and offer a load of our creativity as an offering, but it all seems super compilcated.....is that just the way you hang these days.....

i reacon its a joke and BM is one it and some of you bloggers are just not with the program......but hey challenge me and tell me how to get there

Posted by Guest on Sep. 15, 2011 @ 7:47 am