Labor Day weekend may be a time when families across America head to the beach for one last BBQ before the end of summer and return to school, but it also marked the culmination of Burning Man 2012, the legendary annual Nevada music festival which features a full array of music, art, and lots of drugs. This year, over 50,000 people descended onto Black Rock City in Northwestern Nevada to celebrate art, music, dance, and community.
Like every year, the culmination of the festival is a burning of a human effigy. This year will particularly please the Occupy Wall Street crowd, as the festival attendees burned an effigy of Wall Street called Burn Wall Street.
The effigy asked Occupy and Tea Party supporters to put their differences aside to celebrate their shared principles and goals for financial reform. "Forged from the financial unrest and injustice that has incensed the American public, Burn Wall Street’s core intention is built on participation, one of the Ten Principles of Burning Man. ... We see the Tea Party and the Occupy movements as very similar. They are both well-intentioned groups of Americans that know that things must change. Unfortunately, one group has been hijacked by Right-wing extremists and the other by Left-wing extremists, and both groups have been used as pawns through the use of political wedges to keep each other from the actual goal of reforming Wall Street and saving our economy. ... So BWS is asking these disparate groups to put down their Bibles and their Communist Manifestos in order to unite, share ideas and come up with actual solutions from a rational perspective."
Supporters of Burning Man say "you will never understand it until you go." Outsiders believe it's a hippie-fest filled with naked dancing and drugs. What's clear is that in a presidential election year, this year's festival had a political tinge.
The first Burning Man took place in 1986 in San Francisco, when a few friends on a beach burned a wooden man and a smaller wooden dog in an act of “radical self-expression.” This became one of the ten driving principles of Burning Man, including: unconditional giving, inclusion, self-reliance, and communal effort. For a full history and summary of Burning Man, see here.
In case you missed it, here are some of the best video and photos from Burning Man 2012:
Duane Flatmo's El Pulpo Mecanico (a.k.a. Steampunk Octopus) returns to Burning Man 2012:
Burning Man 2012 Bump Bed 6,000 LED Neo Light Show:
Fire Twisters from the Man Burn 2012:
Temple of Juno Collapse:
Wall Street Effigy: