The Truth About Burning Man: Has The Festival Become Too Commercialized?

Charlotte Piper

Forget everything that you thought you knew about the Burning Man music and cultural festival. What once began as a simple dance party in the middle of the blistering Nevada desert has morphed into an internationally recognized week-long festival in Black Rock Desert.

In recent years, the Burning Man festival, which is widely recognized as a welcome forum for radical self-expression, has started to attract some pretty interesting clientele. Although the week-long party in the middle of the desert vehemently denounces consumerism, some of the country's most influential billionaires end up attending the festival.

Burning Man Black Rock Desert

In an article titled "Why Silicon Valley Billionaires Are Obsessed With Burning Man" on, Gregory Ferenstein offers an in-depth look at this phenomenon of tech industry billionaires who regularly attend the festival:

"Burning Man has since become a totem for the Internet industry's unique culture... Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, Google's Larry Page, and Tesla's Elon Musk have all joined their fellow burners in years past, weathering blistering heat and unpredictable sandstorms to enjoy a week of dancing and interactive art."

NBC New calls Burning Man a "booming business" due to the swarms of potential clients who are exposed to local businesses. While inside the festival, there are no cash goods and bartering isn't allowed. With more than 50,000 people anticipated to show up, local businesses anticipate a boost in their revenue. One such business is Black Rock Bicycles, located in Reno, 100 miles south of Black Rock Desert, which provides bicycle sales and rentals to the droves of festival goers who desire this mode of transportation. Steve Cleek, the owner of the bike shop and a fellow "Burner," offers his insights into why it's important to have a quality set of wheels during the festival:

"Originally, it was just bring the junkiest bike you can find out there. Pretty quickly, you find out you're on your bike all day. If you bring a piece of crap bike out there, it's not comfortable, not efficient, and you're wishing you had a decent bike."

Furthermore, now that billionaire tech moguls flock to this annual music, arts, and cultural festival in the middle of the desert, custom built facilities are outfitted with comfortable beds and air conditioning. Some of these big money Burners even have their own entourage of models and fly out 5-star rated chefs to prepare meals for them while they are enjoying the week of festivities. Burning Man has become an odd hot-spot for these business moguls to create new deals and launch new businesses, according to the San Francisco Gate. Still, Burning Man remains a mecca for radical free expression, which ever form that takes on for each individual attendee, for now.

Burning Man 2014

Burning Man 2014 starts this Monday, August 25, and runs throughout the week and is currently sold out. More than 50,000 people are expected to attend.

[Photo credit: Wikipedia]