According to last year’s Burning Man Black Rock Census, the “average Burner” is 35 years old, male, and makes $64,700 a year.
To their great credit, the folks who operate the annual Burning Man bacchanalia have been conducting a Black Rock Census every year since 2002 that very transparently communicates detailed demographic information about attendees’ age, race, income, and other quantifiable data. But to their discredit, the event still seems to be primarily drawing the sort of dudes who ride scooters. The San Francisco Chronicle reports on last week’s release of the 2018 Black Rock Census and notes that most people who attend Burning Man are male, white, and wealthy.
The data show that 59% of 2018 Burning Man attendees identified as male. The median age last year was 35, while the median personal income was $64,700. But that income number is a little misleading, as median household income numbers showed more than half of last year’s Burners are from households that make more than $100,000.
The Black Rock Census is a self-reported survey, so in that sense, may not paint an entirely accurate picture. Last year’s census had 8,745 respondents out of 70,000 attendees, a 12% sample size that is far larger than most political polls you’ll ever see. But that 12% was not randomly selected. The fact that these people intentionally chose to complete a census questionnaire — and one that takes 20 minutes to fill out, when you could be off raving or doing drugs — might skew these numbers in ways that one can only speculate.
Still, the Burning Man organization is keen to the criticism about a homogenous rich, white population. They’ve started an ongoing blog series on the Burning Man Journal called Diversity & Radical Inclusion. It’s only got three posts so far, but they are on the topics of diversity goals, the racial makeup of Burning Man, and civic responsibility.
It might be unfair to criticize Burning Man for their demographics; probably every expensive festival or event skews white, male, and affluent. But if you’ll pardon the pun, Burning Man has been putting out fires this year by disinviting a notorious “luxury camp” and changing the structure of ticket sales to be friendlier to the low-income set. And it’s not like they have to tell their white people to not wear Native American headdresses like Outside Lands does.
This year’s Burning Man is August 25 - September 2. Or to put it in Burner terminology, “The Man burns in 32 days.”
Image: ImNotQuiteJack via Flickr