What do you know about ‘Burning Man’? Do you even know about the ‘Burning Man Principle’? Have you heard of it before? Have you been in attendance at any of its events? What exactly is the ‘Burning Man’? In this article, we will find out about these questions and more. To those familiar with the ‘Burning Man,’ I’m sure you know there is a wide variety of opinions on it. There have been several understandings and definitions given to this name called the ‘Burning Man.’ Some said it is a place for pushing drugs; others attributed it to some spiritual activities and annual rituals, while others understood it as a music festival.

To know the truth, we need to trace its origin. Let’s try to answer these questions: What is burning man, and how did it come into existence? Who were the creators? What were their aims and objectives? Sit back as these truths begin to unfold. Many people have said different things about this burning man event, and it doesn’t mean that they are all wrong. It just means that they said what they have experienced.

Burning Man

History of the Burning Man

The burning man event originated on June 22nd, 1986, on Baker Beach in San Francisco. It officially started as a bonfire ritual on June 22nd when Larry Harvey, Jerry James, and a few friends met on Baker Beach in San Francisco. Larry Harvey burned 8 feet (2.4m) long tall wooden material referred to as a puppet. Before that time, one of the friends of Larry Harvey’s girlfriend has held a bonfire countless times on that beach in which Larry has attended. During the burning, Larry described his inspiration for burning these effigies (a dummy or a representation of someone) as a spontaneous act of radical self-expression.

In 1986, Larry made a 9-foot-tall wooden sculpture of a man and decided to burn it at a nearby beach (Baker beach) in San Francisco. And years after that, he did it again a couple of years after then. Every year, the sculpture is made more prominent than it was in the previous year. For example, in 1987, the sculpture (of a man) was about 15 feet (4.6 m) tall, and in 1989 it was almost 40 feet (12 m) tall. Finally, Harvey decided to move the burning away from the beach because the police stopped him from burning it in 1990 because he had no permit.

So, Larry joined up with another two people named Kevin Evans and John Law, who planned a group trip to a dry lake in the black rock desert. The movement began to grow as people were excited to be a part of the burning. There was a high turnout, and a man named Michael Mikel became worried that people might get lost in the desert. He then started a group called the Black Rock Rangers to keep people safe.

After that time, Harvey got a permit from the Bureau of Land Management to hold the festival, and since then, it even became more popular. The number increased yearly from the 50s to 1000s. In 2010, over 50,000 people attended the festival. The festival has become so large, and it is now sometimes referred to as the Black Rock City. This is because, before the event, some volunteers devote their time to build the city. After all, it is massive. In addition, some volunteers stay up to four weeks or more after the festival to clean up the city.

Burning Man

The Burning Man Principle

Larry Harvey created ten principles, and they were crafted not to dictate how people should act but as a reflection of the community’s culture. They are as follows:

Radical Inclusion

Burning Man allows everyone to find whatever they miss in their everyday lives. There are several different activities that people do. Some do yoga, and some go for morning runs. The exciting thing is that everyone is unrestricted to do whatever they fascinate. Notably, the community is open to people of all backgrounds and beliefs. Everyone is welcome. When applying this principle to the business world, it means no prerequisites exist. It would help if you welcomed a different perspective.


Going to Burning Man involves some mindful preparation. Money is the least of the concern for those who prepared poorly for the event. The only things it can buy are coffee and ice; the rest is to be gifted. This doesn’t mean that you should expect everything to be given to you. The notion behind it is to learn to take possessions lightly and appreciate the more minor things in life. Also, you should see it as an opportunity to give back to others. Gifts are outright contributions, whether a substance, service-oriented or even less factual.


This principle is closely related to Gifting. In reality, it means that the burning man festival does not support sponsorships or any profit-oriented activities. Every other event would have sponsors and promotional stables — not Burning Man. Nothing is for sale (except for coffee and ice) – participation is rather prioritized than what is to be consumed. This can also teach us in our personal lives to put our effort into getting positive results from the thing we are doing – without the idea of getting something in return.

Radical Self-Reliance

Self-Reliance determines responsibility. Even when things get out of hand, it is essential to take responsibility for yourself. Don’t expect others to look after you. This principle teaches that it’s best to rely on yourself. You are responsible for yourself. Bring everything you need. Burns is an opportunity for you to enjoy relying on yourself. It motivates individuals to rely on their inner resources. Nobody wants to hire someone who relies on constant supervision and instructions. Think outside the box to get constructive ideas.

Radical Self-Expression

This principle is similar to the previous one because it has to with yourself. Perform whatever you want, as long as you don’t disturb others. It’s a time to express yourself, with nobody caring to know what your concerns are. What are your gifts, talents, affinity, likes? You are free to express yourself, and only you can determine the way you express yourself. To show what you are made up to the world, you need to express your gifts and talents.

Burning Man

Communal Effort

This principle is based on first work, then play. If the idea of building an art object does not excite you, you may decide to volunteer to do some other things. Participation is essential, and that nobody will stay idle. Cooperation and collaboration are the main holding force of the festival. You cooperate to do some activities and support one another in the process.

Civic Responsibility

The co-founder of this festival was stopped from burning “the man” until he got a permit from the Bureau of Land Management. It’s important to know that Burning Man is also governed by the laws of the U.S. and the state of Nevada. Civic responsibility involves the approvals that provide for the public interest and assist in preserving society’s civil. Event organizers take responsibility for disseminating these agreements to participants and conducting events following applicable laws of the state and country.

Leaving No Trace

So, after the festival, the Black Rock desert is required to remain as spotless as it was initially. It means everything that you bring with you goes home with you. Everyone cleans up after themselves, and whenever possible, you are supposed to leave your hosting place better than you first met them.


Within one week, with the help of thousands of participants, the desert turns into a city. But this does not mean everyone is involved in building the city. Some participate in feeding the artists and transport food in their art cars. The harsh circumstances of living in the desert make it easy for people to understand that they can benefit others. The revolutionary participation ethic allies that you are the event. Everyone works; everyone plays. No one is a spectator or consumer. Participation is all that matters.


These ten principles are central to everything that is about the event.

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