It's easy to think of Burning Man as an entirely millennial phenomenon, but in terms of the modern music festival market it's actually one of the longest-running gatherings of its kind. If you're looking to get acquainted with the transformational festival's humble beginnings, then look no further than this news special from the late '90s.
This ABC Nightline Investigation is from 1997 - over a decade after Larry Harvey and Jerry James first burned a wooden installation on San Fransisco's Baker Beach on the Summer Solstice. The reporter points out early on that many believed Burning Man was "a physical manifestation of the internet, a kaleidoscopic, no-holds-barred cultural experiment," which perhaps foretold of the deeply similar gatherings would be interwoven with the millennial experience in years to come.
One detail worth mentioning is that none of the footage used in the special suggested that live music played a significant role in early burns. Even still, the 1997 edition of the festival alone drew roughly 10,000 people to Black Rock City - although 100% of the gate ticket sales had been impounded by local authorities.
Interestingly, Burning Man's organizers seemed to have taken financial hardships in stride even at that time. "The creators insist the festival isn't supposed to be about money," the reporter said. "The have discovered that the bigger the festival becomes, the more people flock to the desert, the more money they lose."
Watch the full ABC Nightline Investigation on Burning Man in the YouTube player above to get a more complete perspective on how the transformational festival has evolved over the past three decades.
Source: Dancing Astronaut