Black Rock City, Nevada is an ephemeral town that exists for only one week each year, during Burning Man, a radical arts festival. At its maximum occupancy, the town has about 60,000 citizens and a post office, an emergency services crew, a volunteer police department, roads, houses, bars, clubs, restaurants, and hundreds of art installations and participatory “theme camps”. After a week, the city is completely disassembled – much of it burned – leaving the stark, white desert exactly as bare as it had been when the event started.
The Burning Man festival is an annual event started in San Francisco in 1986 and moved to the harsh and unforgiving Black Rock Desert of Nevada in 1990, where it continues today. The event happens each year in late August and early September, during the week before Labor Day weekend and over the weekend itself. Around 50,000 artists, partiers and eccentrics converge on the desert location – otherwise empty throughout the year – to create a temporary city on the desert lake bed (“The Playa”).
The event culminates on Saturday night when the event’s eponymous mascot – an 80-foot-tall anthropomorphic statue known affectionately as The Man – is set on fire in a huge bacchanalian party. The Burning Man community, although widespread and anarchic, has some guiding principles (codified and exemplified in catch phrases) that make the event manageable and possible. First and foremost is the concept of “self-sufficiency”.
Click for more info: Burning Man Festival Travel Guide