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Burning Man is an annual event in northern Nevada, in the United States, held for one week in the Black Rock Desert. The event starts on the Monday before the American Labor Day holiday, and ends on the holiday itself. The “Burning Man” event is heavily dependent on a large number of volunteers. The 2011 event attracted 50,000 participants, known as “Burners.”
The annual event now known as Burning Man began as a bonfire ritual on the summer solstice in 1986 when Larry Harvey, Jerry James, and a few friends met on Baker Beach in San Francisco and burned a 9-foot (2.7 m) wooden man as well as a smaller wooden dog. Harvey has described his inspiration for burning these effigies as a spontaneous act of “radical self-expression”.
Black Rock City
Black Rock City, often abbreviated to BRC, is the name of the temporary city created by Burning Man participants. Much of the layout and general city infrastructure is constructed by Department of Public Works (DPW) volunteers who often reside in Black Rock City for several weeks before and after the event. The remainder of the city including theme camps, villages, art installations and individual camping are all created by participants. It takes the shape of a 1.5-mile (2.4 km) wide semicircle.
Burning Man does not have a central focus like most other festivals; instead, it encourages free expression and community-building among its participants, the so-called “Burners” – although there is an annual theme. At the event, there Artery is set up to showcase Burners’ art works, such as large-scale sculptural installations, art cars, and, more recently, films.
The event has a list of ten principles by which it encourages the Burners to behave and participate:
- Radical Inclusion
- Radical Self-Reliance,
- Radical Self-Expression
- Communal Effort
- Civic Responsibility
- Leaving no trace
As previously mentioned, the event started around a group of friends burning an effigy on the summer solstice. The ritual burning has remained the central feature of the event, although it now takes place on the Saturday night, towards the end of the festival. Since 1989, the height of the effigy has remained at about 40 feet (12 m), and resides in the center of Black Rock City.