December 2, 2023
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by Riley Coyne ’24 on November 12, 2023
On Sunday, Aug. 27 the annual Burning Man festival kicked off in Black Rock Desert, Nevada. While many attendees were excited and looking forward to the events to come, things quickly took a turn for the worse. The festival itself takes place every year on a dried-up lake bed. Nevada is typically known for being bone-dry, making it the perfect destination, but not this year. It began to rain and as it continued, the ground turned into mud so thick that no transportation could get through. A 20,000-person shuttle was canceled due to the mud, and attendees were advised to conserve water and food since they did not know how much longer they would be there. Cell service was very limited, which made it difficult for attendees to call loved ones back home and inform them of the situation. The middle of the desert was over six miles from civilization and attendees were stranded for days with no way out.
Two of the more well-known attendees, Diplo and Chris Rock, decided to make the long journey out of the desert on foot. While the trek through the mud had to have been difficult, they were able to get to a location a bit closer to civilization where they could then get picked up. Influencer Salah Brooks took to TikTok to address this crisis from an attendee’s perspective. In a video, she said, “This is in fact a natural disaster and yes, someone did die out here.” Some attendees thought they would be stuck there for a few extra days or even a week if the rain continued. Another attendee, Katie Brain, took to social media and posted a picture of a snowman made out of the mud, showing how much mud there truly was.
The irony of this situation though, is that many people decided to skip out on the Burning Man festival this year due to the conditions last year. In 2022, the temperatures were so high that they reached 106 degrees. Due to the sweltering weather, the tickets for this festival were much more accessible. Despite the many negatives, many attendees made the best of a bad situation and said that they enjoyed this year’s festival more than any of the ones they have been to in the past. Burning Man is all about making memories, and after this year’s unusual events, there definitely will be many.