Fairs Festivals

Controversy rages amid vandalism claims at Burning Man festival

In this Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2016 photo, attendees walk by art cars during Burning Man at the Black Rock Desert near Gerlach, Nev.

In this Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2016 photo, attendees walk by art cars during Burning Man at the Black Rock Desert near Gerlach, Nev.  (AP)

Ongoing tensions at the Burning Man festival in Nevada didn’t appear to dissipate at the annual festival which ended Sept. 5.

On Sept. 1, an exclusive camp at the event, “White Ocean,” --which was founded in 2013 by British DJ Paul Oakenfold and Timur Sardarov, the son of Russian billionaire and oil magnate Rashid Sardarov-- was vandalized during the week-long gathering.

 “A band of hooligans raided our camp, stole from us, pulled and sliced all of our electrical lines leaving us with no refrigeration and wasting our food and glued our trailer doors shut, vandalized most of our camping infrastructure, dumped 200 gallons of potable water flooding our camp,” the group said in a Facebook post.

The alleged vandalism occurred Wednesday during the event's annual white party, an event which attracts thousands of partygoers dressed in white to party all night in the desert. There were concerns that the group was singled out for its claimed lack of inclusiveness. The festival's traditional values incorporate “radical inclusion” as one of its 10 principles.

“This year has been quite the challenge for our camp,” the group said. “We have felt like we’ve been sabotaged from every angle, but last night’s chain of events while we were all out enjoying our beautiful home, was an absolute and definitive confirmation that some feel we are not deserving of Burning Man.”

The incident didn’t prevent the group from hosting another rave Friday night but the episode contributed to larger concerns at the festival. The annual event, which attracts more than 50,000 people interested in building a community focused on art, culminates by setting fire to a giant wooden man.

However, the intention of many of those attending in recent years is in question. Specifically, tension has risen between the more veteran partygoers, who are more attached to the festivals mission, and newer attendees who are allegedly more focused on exclusivity and celebrities. As a result of the conflicts, the claims of vandalism from White Ocean were even celebrated in some quarters.  

“Your misguided attempt to be the big unifiers of people, love and music failed miserably and was a funny story for us to laugh at,” one commenter on Facebook proclaimed. “Clearly some things cannot be bought! Thank God for the rest of us and the occasional reckoning of the angry mob! There is your lesson!”

“And so the revolution has begun,” another commented stated. “Taking burning man back from the parasite class, back from the EDM tourists. Taking burning man back for the people. This wasn’t much, but it’s a great start.”

#Epic #BurningMan with #AlienTwin @CaraDelevingne. 🔥✨✨👽👯✨👯👽✨

A photo posted by Paris Hilton (@parishilton) on

Principles of the festival, however, may not just be compromised by regular partygoers. A series of celebrities were also caught during the week with their cell phones. And although the festival does not specifically ban the devices, “radical self reliance” is encouraged in order to “discover, exercise and rely on his or her inner resources.”

But if one casually scrolled through Instagram during the week, there were a group of celebrities posting pictures throughout.