Well-known Burning Man camps are already chiming in with a big old “Nope” on attending the 2021 event, even as Black Rock City organizers have not officially decided whether to proceed this year.
Burning Man is one event where mandatory mask-wearing wouldn’t really change the vibe a whole lot. People are already wearing masks to keep dust out of their mouth and lungs, and gas masks are part of the couture. If the 2021 iteration of the annual bacchanalia does get cancelled over still-lingering coronavirus public health precautions, we already know from from 2020 what people are going to do — VR and AR types will build virtual Black Rock Cities, a smattering of ill-advised Burners will still show up on playa, and many locals will infuriate Mayor Breed by partying at Ocean Beach.
It’s still up in the air whether there will be a physical, in-person Burning Man for 2021. There is now a vaccine, albeit with a hobbled rollout, but hey, the event is still nearly seven months off. The Burning Man Project’s communications team posted in late January that “We still have a ways to go before we can determine if it makes sense to proceed with Black Rock City 2021 planning,” and “We will continue to gather info and prepare, and we will share more by the middle of February.” (For perspective, last year they applied the kibosh in early April.)
A couple of prominent camps have already said they’re not going in 2021, regardless of what the Burning Man Project decides. The Reno-Journal Gazette reports that the popular attraction Thunderdome has announced they will not attend, and another well-known camp Orgy Dome said this weekend that they would not go because the public health situation might be fucked.
Death Guild Thunderdome will not be attending Burning Man at Black Rock City this year. Statement After very little...Posted by Marisa Lenhardt Patton on Wednesday, January 27, 2021
Thunderdome, if you’re not aware, is one of the event’s most recognized structures where Burners battle it out while suspended in a geodesic human fighting arena that’s based on a plot point from a 1985 Mad Max sequel. In the thoughtful post above, a lead organizer of the camp Death Guild that builds the Thunderdome says, “After very little deliberation and a lot of listing of reasons, Death Guild Thunderdome has made the rather easy decision to not attend Burning Man at BRC this year.” The poster added that “we have a lot of scientists and smart people in camp, there was not any hesitation,” and that “Risking lives and participating in a non-essential event that is already lacking in diversity during a time when people of color are being disproportionately impacted by a global health crisis is unacceptable to us.”
Public Statement - 2021 Burn 2020 was an upheaval of life as we knew it, it challenged us all and brought most of us to...Posted by Orgy Dome on Friday, January 29, 2021
Meanwhile at Orgy Dome, a camp that is exactly what it sounds like it is, a Friday night post announced the same. “There will be no Orgy Dome on playa this year,” the official camp post says. “We recognize that there is no reasonable chance (and we are unreasonable people!) that interactivity such as the Orgy Dome can be done safely on playa this year. The safety of our community is immeasurably more important than what we offer.”
Those camps are able to make their call purely from a public health standpoint, but the Burning Man Project has other considerations. Among them, money. SFGate reported last year that canceling the event cost them 90% of their annual budget, though that was somewhat offset by $5 million in community donations and a $2.5 million PPP loan in May. So the project may not be facing an existential crisis now, but losing the event two years in a row, well, that might put them there.
Image: @br33zzyy via Unsplash