More on the comparison between rainbow gatherings and burning man events.
First, everyone at the RG was very cool happy and genial about BM. Many attend both. Yet amongst BM circles I am accustomed to hearing a bit of derision about the RGs. My question: why do (some) burners have a chip on their shoulder about RG?
The only other time I have seen this phenomenon, when there is only one side to a “friendly” rivalry, is the attitudes of San Franciscans and Los Angelinos. SF has a real chip on its shoulder about LA, and there is no end of shit talk and derision, whereas if you’re in LA and you tell someone you’re from SF, they’re like, “Hey, nice city.” I confess to copping this attitude myself, and only losing it because my brother lives in LA.
Perhaps this one sided rivalry is justified, given that LA receives the lion’s share of state resources. Time to rebuild the SF-Oakland Bay Bridge after the 1989 SF earthquake? Not done yet- 20 years and counting. Time to rebuild the bridge damaged in the subsequent Loma Prieta (LA) earthquake? Couple o years.
So maybe since Burning Man came out of and is still massively populated by San Franciscans, Burners have inherited the kind of whiny bitchiness that I am sad to say is quite common in SF?
And RG is numerically a much much larger and longer running thing than BM. When Kiwiburn was looking for a site in NZ it was tough going. When the annual World RG was looking for a site the national government bent over backwards to accomodate them. Similar situation? The younger smaller upstart has a bit of attitude?
Moving on, one of the guys who had been to both RG and BM said that “BM is about the art and RG is about the vibe.” It took some contemplation to grok this, and I think you would have had to have been to both to understand this, so let me riff off that.
BM culture very strongly supports and encourages individual creativity. RG has things like theme camps— the big attraction at the now just winding down world gathering in New Zealand was a camp where amazing RGers had built a wood fired pizza oven. Pretty impressive, wonderful for attendees, but I didn’t get the sense that the community wanted or needed more. ah yeah, there were a couple of chai tents at various levels of operation. And of course the minimal reliance on technology at RG makes things like theme camps more difficult.
Instead, RG places its emphasis on community. Everyone eats together— no “radical self reliance” at RG. I can’t emphasize enough how eating in a circle of several hundred people brings you all together.
The site is chosen specifically to require a walk in from the carpark, so people don’t have a lot more than they need to camp. It’s a real leap of faith to hoist on your pack and walk in, you don’t have any idea what you will find and your ability to survive on your own is pretty limited, as you aren’t carrying in much food, and there isn’t a lot of room for costumes either. The walk in allows the site to be much more natural than anything that would allow all the folks who come to pitch their tent next to their car.
Let’s not forget the toilets. The slit trenches that serve as toilets require a really profound surrender of some deep conditioning (for westerners)— a real surrender of individual privacy and comfort, and a transfer of that self reliance to reliance on the community.
That’s all pretty powerful stuff, and it works. The energy and bonding there is really wonderful, and the lack of technology and flashy lights really makes it all about human to human interaction, not mediated much at all by made things. But instead of looking at the art you’re looking at a mountain and hanging out chatting at each other’s tents.
The three “non-commercial” festivals in New Zealand (no trading allowed within the festival)
Groups meals at Convergence and Rainbow Gathering. (Larger portions and variety at Convergence.)
Toilet challenge at Rainbow Gathering. Possible minor toilet challenge at Kiwiburn. Convergence has their shit sorted ;-)
There is heaps of stuff to do at Kiwiburn. Less but plenty at Convergence. Not so much at the Rainbow Gathering, though enough?
Amplified music at Kiwiburn and Convergence. Heaps more at Kiwiburn. None at Rainbow Gathering.
Kiwiburn: First tier tickets $50
Convergence: First tier tickets $280
Rainbow Gathering: free, but they pass the hat at every meal
Kiwiburn and Convergence: drive to your campsite.
Rainbow Gathering: 1 hour walk in. (1 ½ hours unshod.)
Kiwiburn: 3 days plus 4 days setup plus 3 days cleanup
Convergence: 7 days plus 1 or 2 days setup, 1 or 2 days cleanup
Rainbow Gathering: 28 days plus 14 days setup and 14 days cleanup
Sorry, no insight with this post ;-)