A story from last week is just reaching us off-playa as news trickles through social media that three-year-old "fancy camp" White Ocean, home to a star-studded lineup of DJs and big dance parties and co-founded by the son of a Russian billionaire, was the victim of vandalism Wednesday night by "hooligans" apparently trying to make a statement about wealthy, so-called "plug-and-play" camps like this one. A post to Facebook from White Ocean organizers that you can see in full below says that the vandals cut off electricity, flooded the camp with 200 gallons of water, and glued trailer doors shut, in an effort to "sabotage us from every angle."
Most telling from the post is the detail that someone from the Burning Man organization, to whom White Ocean reported the incident, said "it makes sense that you have been sabotaged as you are a closed camp and not welcoming."
As Business Insider reports, the camp was started in 2013 by famed British DJ Paul Oakenfold "and funded by entrepreneurs Timur Sardarov (the son of Russian billionaire and oil magnate Rashid Sardarov) and Oliver Ripley." The camp is known for throwing dance parties around a DJ stage just outside the camp itself (at 2:00 and Guild), including an annual White Party which happened Wednesday.
It was during that party that vandals apparently entered the camp and committed the acts above, and also allegedly stole items, and caused the camp's refrigeration system to fail, laying some food to waste.
As the Reno Gazette-Journal reports, "Hired help assists the camp in the concert productions and the corral of RVs that surround a catered cafeteria and lounge space." While paid and invited guests of the camp are allowed to eat for free, the food is not available to all comers, as in the original spirit of Burning Man.
Clearly, as new cell signal and Instagram access has meant that Burning Man is no longer as off-the-grid as it once felt, and as each year longtime Burners bemoan a greater and greater influx of elite, newbie Burners who can take $2200 flights right onto the playa from LA, SF and elsewhere acts of revolt like this were bound to begin.
As one Burner, Tony Wichowski, tells the UK Telegraph, "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."
The White Ocean organizer who posted about the event to Facebook, saying they had called authorities and were filing a report with the sheriff, writes, "We came here to unite people through music and love. We came here to inspire and we came here to live and let live." They add, "Please join us at our White Ocean stage and help us celebrate life through music. In doing so together, we can make these foolish acts of hate as minuscule as a particle of dust on our beloved playa."
The biggest question: Was Paris staying there?!
Update: This guy, at Burn.Life, says he suspects the vandals, who left behind no clear message about their motivations, may have actually just been disgruntled contractors who weren't paid by the camp in previous years for services rendered. Also, he claims to be in touch with vandals who took responsibility, so there may be more to come on this.
And here's a video from one of White Ocean's final parties this weekend. Not sure when the LED middle-finger appeared.