Aspall Cyder - Cider and Vinegar

Burning Man 2014

03rd October 2014

Henry's Travels

From my personal experience, I can confirm that The Burning Man Festival is an extraordinary event and, contrary to what the Red Tops and popular press would have you believe, it is the most positive affirmation that there is great hope for the future of humanity. That may sound a little melodramatic, but if you hadn't ever heard of Burning Man before, put your ears to the ground and the likelihood is that you soon will.

If you’ve never been to  Burning Man, there’s only so much I can tell you about it – perhaps best to leave it to octogenarian Charlie – his first visit was captured last year in this film; 15 minutes long, it’s well worth setting the time aside to watch as it will tell you way more about Burning Man than any words of mine ever could...

Much is made of the event's exponential growth; that the original ethos is being lost to the billionaire plug and play camps (camps where people pay to arrive at the last minute and have everything in place for them). Call it the gentrification of Burning Man, if you like. That's as may be, but all have to survive cheek by jowl in the desert, where no money is exchanged, nothing is bartered and everyone contributes whatever they can to the creation of what becomes, fleetingly, until it disappears a week later, "Black Rock City".   

And to paraphrase one of the founders, Larry Harvey: if you want to change the world, that change has to be embraced and endorsed across the board, by the rich, the poor, the good and the bad, the old and the young. Charlie's story bears testament to that. 

We live in an increasingly dysfunctional world, one where much energy is wasted manning the barricades to the hopes and needs of others.  

By contrast, the culture, the space, the principles of Burning Man give permission to the individual to stand up, in the face of these pressures, and live – at least for up to a week – in a community which embraces our similarities rather than condemns our differences. 

The sensation is so refreshing, it hits you in the face with more clarity than the passing of a dust storm. And all in a pop up city, in a desert, where 70,000 other like-minded citizens have come to congregate and create an alternative way of doing things. 

As more of these affirmations are taken back to our communities by more and more people, as the movement extends itself beyond the event, there is no telling where it may all lead. There’s way too much smoke from this City out there in the world now for the fire not to start having a positive and permanent effect. 

28 years since the Man first burnt on Baker Beach in San Francisco, he may well be coming to a community near you soon. Welcome him in – we’ll none of us regret it.