Show caption A women dances to the music from an art car at the ‘renegade’ Burning Man event at Black Rock Desert in Nevada on 2 September. Photograph: Andy Barron/AP Burning Man festival ‘Renegade’ Burning Man festival draws thousands to Nevada desert, including Paris Hilton The rogue gathering angered local police who had, in the past, vowed to crack down on the popular festival Dani Anguiano @dani_anguiano Thu 9 Sep 2021 06.00 BST Share on Facebook
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More than 15,000 people swarmed Nevada’s Black Rock Desert over the weekend for what was dubbed a “renegade” Burning Man, drawing celebrity guests and causing a headache for local law enforcement.
The famous festival was cancelled for the second year running due to Covid-19, but that hasn’t stopped revellers from gathering to celebrate the annual event. This year’s party was unofficial and held without any formal organization, and while a fraction of its normal size, it still managed to draw big crowds and famous faces including Diplo and Paris Hilton.
Anywhere I can be around other creatives who feel free to express themselves is a place for me. 👩🏼🎨💃🏼👩🏻🎤 Burning Man is one of those places. 🔥🧯🚒 Not only is it HOT, but it’s a desert sanctuary for #Sliving 🔥🧚🏻♀️🔥
📸 @Peter_Ruprecht #BurningMan pic.twitter.com/tfAcQnEyTy — Paris Hilton (@ParisHilton) September 6, 2021
Local police told the Reno Gazette-Journal that people were packed “in a small space in the heat, no shade or cooling other than nighttime” and had “little respect” for their “fellow man”.
Jerry Allen, the Pershing county sheriff, told the newspaper that one man was transported to the hospital after he fell from a height of 50ft while parasailing, and that there had been three arrests during the unauthorized festival.
“It remains to be seen if they will still practice their ‘leave no trace’ mantra, with no organization to enforce that,” Allen said. The sheriff has in the past promised to crack down on the festival, the newspaper reported, saying that “Burning Man brings nothing to Pershing county except for heartache.”
In 2019, the last year the festival was held, law enforcement officials arrested at least 58 people at the event, 14 more than the prior year. One man died in his car from carbon monoxide poisoning.
7am in black rock city pic.twitter.com/EzFALvTM3L — diplo (@diplo) September 5, 2021
Burning Man organizers announced in April they would cancel the festival for the second year because of the Covid pandemic. “We know the need for community has never been stronger. And building community is what Burners do best. We also recognize the pandemic is not over,” said Marian Goodell, the Burning Man CEO, said. “We have decided to focus our energy on building Black Rock City 2022.”
The summer of 2020 also saw rogue Burning Man events after the festival was cancelled. Organizers had planned a virtual Burning Man festival, but an estimated 5,000 people still flocked to the Nevada desert. And back in San Francisco, the birthplace of the original Burning Man in the 1980s, more than 1,000 people crowded on to Ocean Beach to celebrate the event, prompting outrage from the mayor who called the gathering “reckless and selfish”.
The counter-culture festival has been held for 35 years and typically draws about 80,000 people for a multi-day event on the playa, which culminates in the burning of a large wooden effigy. In recent years, it has become increasingly popular for celebrities and the tech industry elite, and organizers have called for “cultural course correcting”, including ousting some high-profile, and controversial camping groups.