Bonnaroo. Coachella. Burning Man?
Burning Man began with a bonfire on Baker Beach in 1986 and has since ballooned into an entire lifestyle, industry and ecosystem. This August, an estimated 70,000 people will migrate to Black Rock Desert, Nev., for the yearly event. And while it’s positioned as an experiment in anti-greed, counter-culture spirit, it has started to look like just another stop on the festival circuit for some celebrities.
In recent years, Paris Hilton, Heidi Klum and even Diddy have been spotted at Burning Man, decked out in garish, camera-ready outfits. On the other end of the spectrum, Silicon Valley types, like Google’s Sergey Brin and Larry Page, have been decried for using the free-spirited event as a networking opportunity.
“What we’re seeing are many more of the Fortune 500 leadership, entrepreneurs and small startups bringing their whole team,” Burning Man Project CEO Marian Goodell told the Chronicle in 2014, calling it “a bit like a corporate retreat.”
The influx of celebrities and tech execs at Burning Man has, predictably, spurred a great deal of hand-wringing in the Burning Man community. Cash transactions are prohibited at Burning Man, but wealth manifests itself in the extravagant camps clustered on “Billionaires’ Row.” The so-called turnkey camps, set up and run by hired “Sherpas,” were described in the New York Times:
Lavish R.V.s are driven in and connected together to create a private forted area, ensuring that no outsiders can get in. The rich are flown in on private planes, then picked up at the Burning…Read More