Utopia and dystopia are two sides of the same coin. And as we saw last week, rather than an escape from greed, lucre and consumerism, Burning Man has become a weird, drugged-out, scantily-clad mirror of society at large. Now, in part two of our look at the art festival and experiment in “radical self-sufficiency,” we will watch as Burning Man continues it descent into Mad Max-ian chaos.
Three years ago, super-star deejay and Sir Ivan-producer Paul Oakenfold, Russian heir-to-billions, Timur Sardarov and “international trade and development” CEO Oliver Ripley founded White Ocean at Burning Man – a so-called “plug-n-play” camp for the cosmopolitan elite. The camp hosts exclusive parties with famous techno artists, while offering guests hired staff like cooks, builders and security. It allowed Burning Man jetsetters to drop in and out of the festival by helicopter, and enjoy the luxuries by which they live or die. Naturally, it immediately attracted critics.
A photo posted by Timur Sardarov (@sardarovtimur) on
Old school “Burners” called White Ocean a betrayal of the spirit of festival, which was built on the idea of self-reliance back in 1986. This year, as the gap between rich and poor became starker than ever, the coin flipped, and the desert utopia went full-throttle cacotopia.
During a party last week, a group of so-called “hooligans” attacked “utopia,” aka White Ocean, flooding it with water and cutting power lines.
White Ocean took to Facebook to react to the “attack.”
I think what happened last night should be known on social media. I see it as a great opportunity to turn a disgrace in to something very positive. See below.
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, vandalized most of our camping infrastructure, dumped 200 gallons of potable water flooding our camp.
We immediately contacted authorities. Sheriffs came to our camp along with rangers to take our report.
This year has been quite the challenge for our camp. We have felt like we’ve been sabotaged from every angle, but last night’s chain of events, while we were all out enjoying our beautiful home, was an absolute and definitive confirmation that some feel we are not deserving of Burning Man. We actually had someone from the organization tell us that in paraphrase ‘it makes sense that you have been sabotaged as you are a closed camp and not welcoming.’
We provide one of the most state of the art stages on the playa and feed hundreds of non-white ocean burners a day. Does this qualify as a non-welcoming camp with no contribution to Burning Man?
Nonetheless, with open hearts and immense love for what we bring to Burning Man, 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 came here to inspire and we came here to live and let live.
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.
All love from White Ocean.”
In other words, Burning Man is at war with itself. Despite some messages of sympathy for the elite campers, many festival goers have become dedicated to “taking the event back.”
“And so the revolution has begun,” Tony Wichowski, a Burner, told the Telegraph. “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.”
“You’re a closed camp and not very welcoming. I got yelled at for coming to close to your ‘gates.’” Danielle Palmer, another Burner, told the Telegraph, “We know you hire people in to cook and do other things. Feeding friends of your paid campers does not count as feeding Burners.”
Some people just like to watch the world burn. And here is a look at what went down since last week:
This Portuguese model got a smooch.
Untz, untz, untz!
A photo posted by Azamat (@azamat_agraba) on
Miss Nizhny Novgorod!!!
Jared Letto was maybe the only guy at Burning Man not wearing a costume.
— JARED LETO (@JaredLeto) September 1, 2016
A video posted by Burning Man Videos Curated (@burner_videos) on
All hail White Ocean!
Bye, bye Burning Man. We hardly knew ye.
A photo posted by Adam T (@turneradam86) on