It’s no secret that we here at Dance Music Northwest like to party. We live for those late nights (or early mornings), sweating and shaking away on the dance floor. We like to party hard but we like to party safe. Here at DMNW, not only do we continuously strive to surface hot new music, local events, and an insider look at what is happening in the EDM scene, we also aim to promote safe and smart partying and try to rid the negative outside stigma we have somehow collected over the years. Whether we are testing out different ear plugs, assessing new types of drug test kits, or rallying local governments to adopt common sense harm reduction policies; we are always hunting new ways to make our community a little bit safer.
So, when we heard the Black Rock Ranger training was coming to Vancouver, we sent in one of our staff writers to see what the Rangers are all about. We had a lot of questions about this mysterious training and what these people do keep Burners safe at Burning Man and other regional events. Perhaps you have been to a Burn event and you have seen the Rangers in action or perhaps you have never heard of the Rangers, either way, continue reading as we give an inside look.
Burning Man, arguably the festival of all festivals, created the Black Rock Rangers back in 1992 to work as a sort of search and rescue initiative to find people who had literally become lost in the desert. Back before the days of Google Maps, Burners would have to get out to Black Rock City with abysmal word of mouth instructions. Drive 10 miles and turn left at the cactus, continue straight for 16 miles till you reach the large tumbleweed, etc.. As you can imagine, many people would get stuck in the scorching Nevada heat nowhere near the event site, so the Rangers were developed to scour the land looking for the stragglers. Since then, the Rangers have evolved to be the eyes and the ears of the festival. As Burning Man grows every year and more regional events begin to pop up, the role of the Rangers could not be more important to the well-being of the community.
The first information shared at the training is what the Rangers are not: “We are not police. We are not security and we are not your Mom.” For the most part, Rangers are just like the rest of the us. They like to party too, but they dedicate a portion of their time at the festival to looking out for the rest of us. Rangers might help a child who has lost their parent, they may help a “too altered” person find a safe sanctuary, or they may assist in a medical emergency. Typically, they do nothing though and just quietly observe. For the most part, you might never notice them but they are casually keeping their ears to the ground (or radio) to assist in the community where needed. If you have ever wondered how this pop-up city of 80,000 people in the desert somehow seamlessly manages the all the chaos, look no further than the Rangers.
Not only do Rangers exist at Burning Man, they are at all official regional events as well. If you find it hard to commit to a week in the desert, didn’t win the ticket lottery, or simply can’t afford the ticket price, we highly recommend checking out one the official regional events in your area. For example: Soak in Oregon, Critical Northwest in Washington and Burn in The Forest in British Columbia. If you are curious about becoming a Ranger, be sure to check out their website to see if any training events are coming near you.You can also take this short self quiz to see if you would make a good Ranger!
If you happen to spot a Ranger at a regional event or Burning Man, be sure to give them a big hug and thank them for the work they do. On that note, let’s give a cheers to all volunteers at all festivals that aim to keep us safe! Let’s give another cheers to safe partying in general! Whether it is Rangers or any other festival volunteer, there is no doubt that these people that donate their time are the back bones of the festivals.
Have you encountered any volunteers that largely improved your festival experience. Share with us on our Facebook Page!
Get all the latest Pacific Northwest nightlife news, directly to your inbox.