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Is Burning Man Running Dance Music Out Of Town?

When it comes to counter-cultural movements, the general public tends to lump burners and ravers into the same category. It’s understandable, after all, there’s a good deal of overlap between burner culture and the EDM scene. Both groups are devoted to art and community. Burners have their ‘10 Principles,’ we have PLUR. Granted, PLUR’s not exactly as coherent as the 10 principles, but ravers aren’t exactly known for having an attention span long enough to actually create a defining set of cultural guidelines. Yes, Burning Man’s by no means a music festival, but there are enough musical camps and installations at the event that EDM’s had a tangible presence at the event for quite a few years now.

But all that is about to change.

Last year, posting any set times prior to the event was banned after an incident with White Ocean, an art and sound camp that leaked details of DJ times months prior to the actual burn. According the organizers of the event, the goal of this restriction was to reduce the number of potential burners that merely attend to catch a set from a superstar DJ—and reduced demand would ideally keep ticket resale prices at reasonable levels.

This year, however, the restrictions are much more significant, at least at a specific level. At the moment, there are at least five sound camps that have been denied placement on the playa and sufficient ticketing for the installations’ members. Opulent Temple, a camp that’s been present for the past 11 years, was denied even half the number of tickets they received least year, in addition to being denied the location they required. Others, such as Dancetronauts, a mobile dance project, were prohibited entirely.


The reasons for these restrictions vary from camp to camp. Opulent Temple was deemed ‘not interactive enough’ for the burn. Dancetronauts are getting the axe due to a combination of excessive volume and a single DJ plug, in which one DJ offered his own, personally created music to the audience for free. The other bans are all in the same vein.

There’s a great deal of controversy surrounding the bans and the rationalizations behind them, but that debate, much like Burning Man itself, belongs to the community. Are the restrictions a result of Burning Man trying to distance itself from EDM as it approaches mainstream acceptance, or are the grievances of the event organizers both legitimate and pressing enough to warrant dramatic action? Let us hear your thoughts on Facebook, Twitter, and in our comments!

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Ben enjoys the blues, covering himself in henna, and Oxford commas.

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