Over 50,000 participants danced an emotional goodbye to this year’s Burning Man after setting their landmark 120ft tall Temple of Transition ablaze. They came, they saw, and they burned.
The spectacular 45,000 square feet effigy has been turn into a fireball, which brought the Nevada desert counter-culture event to a close over America’s Labor Day weekend.
The night came after a week of shenanigans at the anything-goes festival – which included topless bike parades, yachts on wheels strolling the desert floor, geodesic domes housing dance clubs, a 22-ton Trojan horse, and a French Quarter-themed camp.
There was a ticket sales record at this year Burning Man, with 53,341 attending on Friday, and organizers reported a sell-out for the first time ever in its 25-year history.
The spectacular finale of Burning Man, in the remote Black Rock desert about 120 miles northeast of Reno, came after another 40ft signature effigy was burnt on Friday night.
The Burning Man’s Temple of Transition is the tallest installation art structure ever built at the site and visitors were encouraged to meditate, chant or write notes to loved ones in the hexagonal central tower.
According to organizers, they were now planning to turn the company that runs the event into a not-for-profit organization.
The Black Rock LLC company will be liquidated and will turn into the Burning Man Project, with a 17-member board and tens of thousands of “burners” to continue its work.
“We’ve never called it a festival; we’ve always called it a project, with equal parts play and labor,” said founder and Black Rock LLC Executive Director Larry Harvey.
Harvey added: “Festival limits it to a party or a vacation, and it hasn’t behaved that way for about ten years. Most festivals don’t forward action.”
The Burning Man project and phenomenon started 25 years ago with an eight-foot structure burning on a beach in California around the summer solstice.
The Burning Man has now morphed into a sophisticated community, with year-round projects including solar energy development and a crisis response network.
Each year for one week, self-styled “burners” that head into the desert and build a working city from the ground up – including an airport, a post office, and a security team – that tries to be devoid of money and consumerism.
“Burners” then aim to leave the desert with no trace that they were there.
According to police, there were no major problems from the week-long event, although one participant was said to have died on Wednesday from ‘natural causes”.
Bureau of Land Management (BLM) rangers reported three felony arrests and the issued 42 citations, mostly for drug-related offences on Friday.