First, they came for Coachella, now the coronavirus has put a stop to the sweaty, dosed-up messes in stripper steampunk eleganza who flock to Burning Man. If this bitch tries to end August’s Gathering of the Juggalos, America may never recover from the loss of its cultural cache (though something tells me, no matter what happens, Juggalos are showing up).
The Burning Man festival is an annual gathering that takes place in the Nevada desert and features a bunch of kooky artists and other free-spirits––all of whom get together and transform into one weird little community for a few days, and ends with the burning of a wicker man effigy. There’s music, bright lights, shiny objects, nudity…think Mad Max: Fury Road––but scarier.
Unfortunately, standing around thousands of strangers with glitter facials (see: Heidi Klum above) and banana hammocks is not a wise idea, so the organization that hosts the sandy celebration is calling it quits for 2020.
“After much listening, discussion, and careful consideration, we have made the difficult decision not to build Black Rock City in 2020,” said a statement posted to the Burning Man Project website. “Given the painful reality of COVID-19, one of the greatest global challenges of our lifetimes, we believe this is the right thing to do. Yes, we are heartbroken. We know you are too. In 2020 we need human connection and Immediacy more than ever. But public health and the well-being of our participants, staff, and neighbors in Nevada are our highest priorities.”
The festival, which was supposed to run from August 30 to September 7, had already stopped selling tickets last month. And while the organization is offering refunds for those who already purchased their passes (some of which were priced as high as $1400), it is urging those same people to consider the money as a donation to the Burning Man Foundation. Did you hear that? That’s the sound of me giving their marketing department a standing ovation.
I mean, how much could it possibly cost to host this thing every year? You bring your own van to sleep in, and then when it’s over they burn the venue to the ground. If I’ve shelled out 1400 clams to dance naked in a circle on acid while bikers with beards down to their scrotes start lighting things on fire––and y’all cancel? Ya, I’m going to need my money back.
But Deadline is reporting that organizers are currently planning to create a Virtual City for 2020 in “The Multiverse”––whatever the hell that means. Somehow, it doesn’t strike me as the same Burning Man without the sandy banana hammocks, but any excuse to get weird, I guess?
“That’s the theme for 2020 so we’re going to lean into it,” the statement says. “Who’d have believed it would come true? We look forward to welcoming you to Virtual Black Rock City 2020. We’re not sure how it’s going to come out; it will likely be messy and awkward with mistakes. It will also likely be engaging, connective, and fun.”
Messy and awkward seems to be the hands-down favorite slogan of 2020 in general, so maybe it will work out after all.
Here’s the full video message from Burning Man Project CEO Marian Goodell (whose backdrop gives me serious Carole Baskin vibes). Until next time….