How Billionaires Do Burning Man

Like all people who hate Burning Man, I enjoy nothing more than reading articles about Burning Man. In February, Felix Gillette chronicled the semi-clad class warfare at last year’s Burning Man for Bloomberg BusinessweekDespite being a festival based on radical self-reliance, Black Rock City is seemingly overrun with tech billionaires setting up their own exclusive festivals-within-a-festival; ultra-luxe camps that are fully built and staffed by paid “sherpas.” In his piece, Gillette described plans for an over-the-top camp hosted by Jim Tananbaum, a former member of Burning Man’s governing board:

 In the spring [Tananbaum] and his team sent out a detailed invitation, enticing potential guests with an early vision of the camp, named Caravancicle. Anyone concerned about living in a hot, unforgiving wilderness could rest assured. There would be no roughing it at Caravancicle. Accommodations would consist of a series of cubical tents with carbon fiber skeletons. Each cube would have 9-foot ceilings, comfortable bedding, and air conditioning. The surrounding camp, enclosed by high walls, would be safe and private. Amenities would include a central lounge housed in a geodesic dome, private showers and toilets, solar panels, wireless Internet, and a 24-hour bar. Guests could count on a “full-service” staff, who would among other things help create “handcrafted, artisanal popsicles” to offer passers-by. To help blend in with the Burning Man regulars, who tend to parade around the commons in wild, racy outfits (if anything at all), the camp would include an entire shipping container full of costumes.

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See Also:
1. “The Old Man at Burning Man” (GQ, Feb. 2013)

Wells Tower’s legendary 2013 GQ account of attending the aforementioned festival with his father.

2. “Why the Rich Love Burning Man” (Jacobin, Aug. 2015)

An essay by Keith A. Spencer about why business leaders, particularly in Silicon Valley, are so enamored with Burning Man:

 This is the dark heart of Burning Man, the reason that high-powered capitalists — and especially capitalist libertarians — love Burning Man so much. It heralds their ideal world: one where vague notions of participation replace real democracy, and the only form of taxation is self-imposed charity. Recall Whole Foods CEO John Mackey’s op-ed, in the wake of the Obamacare announcement, in which he proposed a healthcare system reliant on “voluntary, tax-deductible donations.”