Day 6

Timeline: Burning Man goes corporate

If your perception of the Burning Man Festival is hippies doing drugs, making art, and dancing barefoot in the sand, you're not totally wrong. But the past couple of years have given birth to new participants with more money to spend, and a different idea of what it means to be a Burner.
Dillon Bracken, left, and Atalya Stachel dance during the Burning Man 2014 "Caravansary" arts and music festival in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada, on Aug. 30, 2014. (Jim Urquhart/Reuters)
Listen8:33

If your perception of the Burning Man Festival is hippies doing drugs, making art, and dancing barefoot in the sand, you're not totally wrong. Traditionally, Burners live in tents and come to Black Rock City, Nevada, with their own food and water. They participate in a "gifting economy" and money is not allowed.

But sold-out tickets over the past couple of years has led to higher prices and given birth to new participants with more money to spend and a different idea of what it means to be a Burner. Day 6 looked into Burning Man's "Capitalist Creep."

Burning Man has grown from a small gathering of 20 people on a beach to an international arts festival that attracts more than 50,000 people annually.

This timeline explores how Black Rock City has changed over the years.

1986

The first event poster for Burning Man. (Photo courtesy of Burning Man)
Height of man: 8 feet

Participants: 20

The event that would become Burning Man starts on Baker Beach in San Francisco when Larry Harvey and Jerry James construct and then burned a wooden figure

The few bystanders clasp the figure's hand as it burns --- the first spontaneous performance of Burning Man

1990

(Photo courtesy of Burning Man)
Height of man: 40 feet

Participants: 800

Larry Harvey creates the official Burning Man blueprint that will be used to construct the wooden figure every year and the Society of Carpenters helps build it

Police forbid burning the Man on Baker Beach and organizers decide to move the event to Labour Day weekend in Black Rock Desert, Nevada

1992

(Photo courtesy of Burning Man)
Height of man: 40 feet

Participants: 600

Burning Man becomes the Black Rock Arts Festival with a fashion show, arts programming and fireworks

The Black Rock Gazette newspaper and Black Rock Rangers are created

1993

(Photo courtesy of Burning Man)
Height of man: 40 feet

Participants: 1,000

Camp culture is solidified by the creation of the first theme camp (Santa serving fruitcake and eggnog at "Christmas Camp") and an official camp layout is designed by Larry Harvey with lampposts leading the way to Burning Man in the centre of the camp

The onsite radio station for Burning Man is established

1995

(Photo courtesy of Burning Man)
Height of man: 40 feet

Participants: 4,000

Burning Man becomes the most populous (but temporary) settlement in Nevada's Perishing County

CNN begins covering the event and Burning Man comes under scrutiny from authorities, who eventually give the festival A-plus ratings for safety, organization and clean up

1998

Height of man: 50 feet

Participants: 15,000

Burning Man's active online presence continues to attract visitors and art exhibitions from around the world

Google co-founders Larry Page and SergeyBrin attend Burning Man for the first time. The very first Google Doodle is the image of Burning Man imposed on the Google logo.

2001

Height of man: 40 feet

(standing on the 30-foot Tower of Enlightenment)

Participants: 25,659

Burning Man continues to grow dramatically, leading to problems with counterfeit tickets --organizers say they catch 99 per cent of fake tickets

Artwork is tagged with GPS for the first time to facilitate Burning Man's leave-no-trace policy

2005

Height of man: 40 feet (standing on a 32-foot "funhouse" with an interactive maze)

Participants: 35,567

The twentieth Burning Man features 275 art projects on the playa, 485 theme camps, and 92 planes land at Black Rock City's airport

New land management standards allow no more than one square foot of debris per acre -- Burning Man passes the inspection

2011

Height of man: 40 feet (standing on a 50-foot base designed to represent two mountains)

Participants: 53,963

Burning Man sells out for the first time ever and the Black Rock city plan adds 16 new streets to accommodate growth

Grants for art projects increase by 10 per cent from 2010, funding 45 art installations as part of more than 309 art projects on the playa

2012

An aerial view of Black Rock City. (Jim Urquhart/Reuters)
Height of man: 40 feet (standing on a 50-foot base that looked like a beehive)

Participants: 56,149

Burning Man sells out again. A randomized ticketing system leaves many regular Burners without tickets to event and organizers scramble to ensure that people behind key camps and art installations get tickets.

First-time Burners make up 35 per cent of attendees, an unusually large percentage

Timeline information compiled from burningman.com