Was this the saddest Burning Man ever? Washout festival prepares to set fire to ‘the man’ TONIGHT as mass exodus begins with 64,000 revelers set to hit the road after being ‘trapped’ in the mud for two days due to deluge
- Burning Man organizers postponed the burning of ‘the man’ until Monday night
- About 64,000 people remain on the site in the Nevada desert after the flooding
- Some revelers have praised the community spirit of all those trapped in the mud
- But others have said that there was mild panic at not being able to leave the site
Burning Man will come to an end on Monday night with the burning of ‘the man’ – concluding perhaps the saddest event in its history and leaving the waterlogged Nevada desert strewn with abandoned boots and acres of trash.
Organizers on Monday said 64,000 revelers remained on the site, and begged those trying to leave the filthy encampment to have patience.
A half-inch of rain fell on Friday, turning the site into a quagmire, and attendees were ordered not to leave because the exit roads were impassable.
Some said the weather engendered a sense of community, but others admitted there was a mild panic at the thought of being stuck with dwindling food and water. Social media users laughed at the ‘harrowing’ stories of fleeing the site.
The road reopened at 2pm on Monday and ‘the exodus’ began. Those leaving the festival before ‘the burn’ on Monday faced five-hour waits until they reached the open road.
‘Take it slow and mind those directing traffic,’ organizers pleaded. ‘Please be patient as you exit through Gate Road, and respect Burning Man staff who are working hard to make the Exodus experience as smooth and safe as possible.’
People were being urged to delay their departure until Tuesday if possible.
They were also asked not to attempt to walk. Some attendees – among them comedian Chris Rock, actor Austin Butler and DJ Diplo – had already left the festival on foot.
Weather permitting, ‘the Man’ is scheduled to be torched at 9 pm on Monday, while the temple is set to go up in flames at 8 pm on Tuesday.
The National Weather Service in Reno said it should stay mostly clear and dry at the festival site Monday, although some light rain showers could pass through Tuesday morning.
The event began on August 27 and had been scheduled to end Monday morning, with attendees packing up and cleaning up after themselves.
‘We are a little bit dirty and muddy, but spirits are high. The party still going,’ said Scott London, a Southern California photographer, adding that the travel limitations offered ‘a view of Burning Man that a lot of us don’t get to see.’
The annual gathering, which launched on a San Francisco beach in 1986, attracts nearly 80,000 artists, musicians and activists for a mix of wilderness camping and avant-garde performances.
Disruptions are part of the event’s recent history: Dust storms forced organizers to temporarily close entrances to the festival in 2018, and the event was twice canceled altogether during the pandemic.
At least one fatality has been reported, but organizers said the death of a man in his 40s wasn’t weather-related.
The sheriff of nearby Pershing County said he was investigating but has not identified the man or a cause of death.
President Joe Biden told reporters in Delaware on Sunday that he was aware of the situation at Burning Man, including the death, and the White House was in touch with local authorities.
The event is remote on the best of days and emphasizes self-sufficiency.
Amid the flooding, revelers were urged to conserve their food and water, and most remained hunkered down at the site.
Some attendees, however, managed to walk several miles to the nearest town or catch a ride there.
Diplo, whose real name is Thomas Wesley Pentz, posted a video to Instagram on Saturday evening showing him and Rock riding in the back of a fan’s pickup truck. He said they had walked six miles through the mud before hitching a ride.
‘I legit walked the side of the road for hours with my thumb out,’ Diplo wrote.
Cindy Bishop and three of her friends managed to drive their rented RV out of the festival at dawn on Monday when, Bishop said, the main road wasn’t being guarded.
She said they were happy to make it out after driving toward the exit — and getting stuck several times — over the course of two days.
But Bishop, who traveled from Boston for her second Burning Man, said spirits were still high at the festival when they had left.
Most people she spoke with said they planned to stay for the ceremonial burns.
‘The spirit in there was really like, ‘We’re going to take care of each other and make the best of it,” she said.
Rebecca Barger, a photographer from Philadelphia, arrived at her first Burning Man on August 26 and was determined to stick it out through the end.
‘Everyone has just adapted, sharing RVs for sleeping, offering food and coffee,’ Barger said. ‘I danced in foot-deep clay for hours to incredible DJs.’