How Burning Man Helped a Struggling Town Find Itself


Every year in August, as the summer heat peaks in the northern Nevada high desert, people start descending on Reno by the scores, then by the thousands.

They buy water by the pallet, booze by the case, and food to last for a week, plus faux-fur coats, booty shorts, wearable lights, goggles, boots, and much, much more. Then they disappear into the Black Rock Desert north of town. A week or so later they return, physically and emotionally exhausted, smelly, disheveled, and covered from hair to toenails in a fine white dust that marks nearly everything it touches, sometimes forever. They are “burners,” and they have just emerged from Burning Man, a raucous festival of art, indulgence, and DIY culture that draws tens of thousands from around the world each year.

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