In a capitalist society like America, it’s hard to get away from commercialism. Here, TV and radio shows are interrupted every few minutes for commercials, alternative music festivals are supported by brand name advertisers and public radio or sports stadiums couldn’t exist without corporate sponsors.
Burning Man is an exception to that rule. This annual art festival, held in the Nevada desert, keeps commercialism at bay, which makes it a very unique experience. Well, and there are a few other reasons that make it unique too.
The festival attracts around 40,000 people each year, which means that for one week out of th eyear a city of tents, RV’s and trailers arises on a dried up lake bed, called the Playa, in the middle of nowhere. It actually has a name: Black Rock City. The only two things you can buy here are coffee and ice, served by volunteers. Everything else, you have to bring yourself, though chances are that you’ll drink someone else’s wine and eat their food. In Black Rock City there is a gifting eceonomy, often confused with a barter economy. We had a man come by our camp with homemade beef jerky and blackberry jam.
We walked along the Esplanade and received free pizza and then there are the many bars where you just have to hold up your cup to get whatever they are serving Burning Man is all about self-reliance, self-expression and participation, not focused on commercialism.