With Burning Man Canceled, A Stealth Festival Pops Up in the Desert

Hopefully everyone's staying safe

Burning Man
Burning Man in bygone years.
Frederic Larson/San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

In mid-April of this year, the Burning Man Festival announced that it would be making a temporary move familiar to many observers of 2020: in lieu of a physical event, the festival would go the online route. An understandable decision, to be sure. But evidently, that decision didn’t stop a group. of particularly dedicated Burners from venturing into the desert this year for a festival of their own.

A new report from Rebecca Alter at Vulture notes that a few hundred people have showed up in Black Rock Desert for what is, essentially, an unsanctioned Burning Man Festival. Law enforcement — specifically, sheriff’s deputies and the Bureau of Land Management — is aware of their presence.

The scene described in the article, thankfully, seems to be one in which social distancing is paramount. “Twelve miles of desert gives these revelers plenty of room to social distance,” Alter writes, “particularly without the sorts of crowded raves and installations of most years.”

An organizer who spoke with NBC offered more specifics. “[W]e decided to keep people’s camps 200 feet away from one another and to advise wearing masks when meeting others,” they said. That there’s any sort of event happening at all sounds somewhat concerning — but if masks and social distancing are both being used, that should reduce much of the danger of potential COVID-19 spread. Hopefully for the Burners both there and at home, a vaccine will be ready in time to make next year’s festival a reality.

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