The Pershing County Sheriff’s Department closed the gate to Black Rock City on Friday morning– Burning Man’s 2013 limit of 68,000 people had been reached. New participants would be admitted only when other participants left.
68,000 is a Super Bowl size crowd; it’s a lot of people. So who are these folks who take a week off to travel to Nevada’s remote Black Rock Desert? I was curious, so I checked out the Burning Man Census data. There were some surprises.
A delightful woman from London stopped by our camp when Adios was spraying people with ice water. Her visit led Peggy and I to speculate on the number of people attending Burning Man from outside the US. Our sense was that it had increased dramatically. Turns out we were right. Preliminary 2013 census data suggests that international participation is approaching 25%.
My own blog numbers support this apparent international interest. People from 170 countries around the world have checked out my Burning Man posts.
The 2011 Census suggested something even more surprising to me: the number of Republicans participating is approaching the number of Democrats and Independents. Part of this reflects the fact that Burning Man is becoming more mainstream but it may also show that younger Republicans are taking a broader view of the world. If so, this could bode well for the future of the Party, not to mention the Country.
In the not-so-surprising column: The number of under 30 participants is close to the number of over 30 participants. (Kids and 70 plus year-olds are also present.) The majority of Burners have college and advanced degrees. The most common professions are in the computer and technological fields with a strong representation from the arts community as well.
The real story of Burning Man isn’t in numbers however; it is in the individuals.
For example, Peggy and I were at Center Camp on a quiet evening when an elderly man from Reno invited us to over to check out his art project. As a kid, James McNulty had a hobby of collecting the paper from firecrackers. Some 20 years ago he began using the papers he had collected to make collages. His hobby had turned into a passion. Eventually his works of art would be exhibited in such places as UCLA and the Pacific Art Museum.
He also gave a great massage. “I know all of the pressure points,” he told us proudly. I checked out his art while Peggy checked out his massage.
Burning Man is chock-full of characters like James, both young and old. It is what gives the event its unique flare.
Next Blog: I will feature what I consider to be one of the top art pieces in the history of Burning Man: Truth Is Beauty by Marco Cochrane of Mill Valley, California.