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A Burner Lexicon: Black Rock City

Posted in A Burner Lexicon, and Burning Man

A sign welcomes visitors to That Thing In The Desert. Photo by Keith Harris.

Black Rock City, –noun, There’s a very old legend that talks about a wonderland of luxuries and pleasures that disappears mysteriously into the dust when the visitor tries to return. Black Rock City, home of the annual Burning Man festival, may be the closest thing humans have made to this mythical place. Located on the playa of the Black Rock Desert, it becomes one of the largest cities in the state for the single annual week of its existence and then fades back into empty desert.

Black Rock City, or BRC, is not just a random assortment of tents and mutant vehicles. It has organized city streets laid out on a grid system. The city is surrounded by a Trash Fence which both delineates its territory and helps ensure the event leaves no trace on the surrounding desert. There is an airport and a functioning post office where participants can send and receive snail mail. In addition, visitors can find theme camps acting as bars, pancake stands, yoga studios, massage spas, and dance clubs (among others) all functioning on the gift economy.

Although there is no commerce, Burners pay hundreds of dollars in ticket fees to attend; these are effectively taxes which fund large scale artworks, employ certain core workers of the Burning Man organization, and line the pockets of the Bureau of Land Management and other agents of the default world.

See also: Department of Public Works, Pyropolis, Regional Burn

I know several canny Burners who make it a regular practice to MOOP the trash fence as all kinds of delightful surprises blow away and are caught there.

Thanks to Ghoast for contributions to this entry.

Other entries in A Burner Lexicon can be found at

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