It is supposed to be a utopian vision of peace and love but this year’s Burning Man Festival has been marred by “hooligans” carrying out a “revolution against rich parasites”.
The festival plays out each year in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert where 70,000 people build a city in a week, burn a giant wooden effigy of a man, and then restore the arid playa to its original state.
In recent years it has become popular with Silicon Valley millionaires, and billionaires. Luxurious so-called “plug-n-play” camps have sprung up which use hired staff like cooks, builders and security, and allow international jetsetters to drop in for quick visits.
Many traditional “Burners” claim that is a betrayal of the spirit of “radical self-reliance” that is a cornerstone of the festival, which began in 1986.
As anger boiled over one camp called White Ocean, which hosts high profile DJs on a state-of-the-art stage, became the focus of anger.
The camp first made an appearance at Burning Man three years ago and its founders included the British DJ Paul Oakenfold and the son of a Russian billionaire.
While the camp was holding a party at which revelers listened to techno music it was attacked by vandals who flooded it with water and cut power lines.
In a dismayed post on Facebook camp leaders said: “A very unfortunate and saddening event happened last night at White Ocean, something we thought would never be possible in our Burning Man utopia.
“A band of hooligans raided our camp, stole from us, pulled and sliced all of our electrical lines leaving us with no refrigeration and wasting our food, and glued our trailer doors shut.
“They vandalised most of our camping infrastructure and dumped 200 gallons of potable water flooding our camp.”
The camp leaders said they felt like there had been an effort to “sabotage us from every angle” because “some feel we are not deserving of Burning Man“.
They said: “We actually had someone from the Burning Man organisation tell us ‘It makes sense that you have been sabotaged as you are a closed camp and not welcoming’.”
But leaders of the White Ocean camp said their reputation was unfair because they feed hundreds of other campers every day and have embraced other Burners with “open hearts and immense love”
They said: “We will absolutely not let this pathetic violation stop what we came here to do. We came here to unite people through music and love.
“We can make these foolish acts of hate as minuscule as a particle of dust on our beloved playa.” Deputies from the local Pershing County Sheriff’s Office went to the camp to assess the damage and are investigating.
Many festival-goers were outraged that the peaceful nature of the event had been undermined.
Elena Serdiouk, a Burner from San Francisco, told the Reno Gazette-Journal: “This is evil. This should not happen at Burning Man. This is supposed to be about love, happiness, sharing, giving and appreciating.
“It is unbelievable that there are angry people here.”
But others supported the attack, saying it was time to “take back” the festival.
Tony Wichowski, a Burner, said: “And so the revolution has begun. Taking Burning Man back from the parasite class, back from the electronic dance music tourists. Taking Burning Man back for the people. This wasn’t much but it’s a great start.”
Danielle Palmer, another Burner, accused the camp of having “paid staff and bouncers”. She said: “You’re a closed camp and not very welcoming. I got yelled at for coming to close to your ‘gates’.
“We know you hire people in to cook and do other things. Feeding friends of your paid campers does not count as feeding Burners.”
Burning Man stage White Ocean sabotaged by ‘hooligans’ in attack on ‘parasite class’
An exclusive camp at Nevada’s Burning Man festival has been raided by angry festival-goers who accused the venue of betraying the “inclusive” principles of radical self-reliance the festival was founded on.
In a post on its Facebook page, the White Ocean Camp said their venue was raided by “hooligans” who cut power cords, destroyed property and “glued our trailer doors shut”.
“This year has been quite the challenge for our camp,” the Facebook post said.
“We have felt like we’ve been sabotaged from every angle, but last night’s chain of events, while we were out enjoying our beautiful home, was an absolute and definitive confirmation that some feel we are not deserving of Burning Man.”
According to local media, Pershing Country sheriff’s office has been called in to investigate the raid, which took place during a “white party” — where festival-goers dress in white while enjoying international headline DJ acts.
The reaction to the raid has been mixed, with many suggesting the White Ocean venue, which was started by Timur Sardarov — the son of a Russian oil magnate — was targeted for being part of the “parasite class”.
“I remember before the wealthy Silicone (sic) Valley snobs took over the Black Rock Desert with all their commercialism the Burning Man was a free event,” one Facebook user wrote on the White Ocean page.
“The whole Burning Man event should be burned to the ground it is so elitist and exclusionary.”
Attack goes against ‘every principle’ of event
Burning Man festival started as a guerilla performance in the late 80s when two friends burnt a 2.5-metre-high wooden effigy on a beach in San Francisco, drawing the interest of local bohemians who joined in on the “authentic” art performance.
Despite more than 67,000 people passing through the gates in 2015, organisers say they have tried to stay true to the festival’s “bohemian” principles, with festival-goers pitching in to build the camps, and self-sufficiency and “gifting” being relied on over money.
But in recent years, venues like White Ocean have offered “plug and play” luxury camps set up by paid teams and frequented by global elites who parachute into the festival, while regular festival-goers complain of being turned away from similar venues by bouncers.
Responding to the criticism of being an elitist venue, White Ocean claim to “feed hundreds of non white ocean (sic) burners a day”.
“We came here to unite people through music and love. We came here to inspire and we came here to live and let live,” the Facebook post read.
Many have condemned the attack, offering their support and condolences to the venue’s owners.
“That should never happen at Burning Man,” Jim Porto wrote on White Ocean’s Facebook page.
“It goes against every principle of the event, regardless if some people like White Ocean and some don’t.”
Because of the increasing popularity of the event, tickets sell out in minutes and are often resold for upwards of $1,000.