The unstoppable Black Rock Desert festival in Nevada, notorious for its hard partying and good vibes, has hit a severe roadblock during its opening day. Hundreds of burners who arrived early in anticipation of the festival are being allowed to stay on the playa, but thousands have been left waiting in the desert because of thunderstorms in the area. Black Rock City will not re-open until at least tomorrow, according to local paper The Reno-Gazette Journal. Rain on the playa is a dangerous game, as tens of thousands of people rush in to build up the Black Rock City for the popular festival. Last year, official estimates clocked attendees at nearly 70,000. With the traffic of a small city all moving to the same place on the same day, even a few dozen cars getting trapped in mud could cause major problems, Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Dan Lopez told RGJ.
“Playa out there is mucky, muddy stuff. With rain attached to it, people get stuck everywhere.”
Official reports from the Burning Man Traffic twitter are hesitant to say that the festival will continue as normal tomorrow.
Burning Man’s major challenge over the past decade has been the exact opposite of a promoter’s nightmare. According to the official Burning Man website timeline, the festivals population has almost doubled since 2003 — rising from around 30,000 participants in 2003 to nearly 70,000 in 2013.
Closing Burning Man with thousands of people set to pour in from all over the globe creates some major problems — the nearest city, Reno, would be hard pressed to accommodate so many people. In fact, everything from Wal-Mart to local grocery stores tend to sell out the majority of their stock leading up to the festival, making Burning Man week look more like the end of the world than the beginning of Black Rock City.
But the massive wave of festival goers can be a good thing for the economically challenged city of Reno, according to a report in RGJ. Still, that isn’t to say that the festival is without its critics — both locally and nationally. Much of the press leading up this year’s now-delayed Burning Man was devoted to tearing down a wave of corporate interests and rather “non-burner” Burning Man attendees. One anonymous Silicon Valley entrepreneur told the The New York Times:
“We used to have R.V.s and precooked meals… Now, we have the craziest chefs in the world and people who build yurts for us that have beds and air-conditioning. Yes, air-conditioning in the middle of the desert!”
[Image via Flickr]