Every year, Burning Man takes to the Black Rock Desert of northern Nevada to construct its pop-up utopian society and celebration of life over a ten-day period. The 2020 edition did not take place, of course, due to worsening COVID-19 conditions across the United States. As many came to celebrate Labor Day weekend festivities, often with poor social distancing practices, many Burning Man attendees gathered on San Fransisco’s Ocean Beach to celebrate the 80,000-person event in lieu of the event being canceled.
According to San Francisco Mayor London Breed, “over 1,000 people crowded on Ocean Beach to celebrate Burning Man. This was absolutely reckless & selfish. You are not celebrating. You are putting people’s lives at risk. You are putting our progress at risk. No one is immune from spreading the virus.”
Many have even gathered to throw renegade events in place of Burning Man, which have been met with heavy malaise and condemnation. The most egregious of those was ReUnite in Mojave, California, which allegedly threw an event under the guise of a Black Lives Matter protest.
Burning Man, which has no association with any of these types of events, released an online statement further condemning any gatherings taking place in its wake: “As members of our global community continue to honor Burning Man culture this weekend, we urge everyone to refrain from gathering unsafely in large groups, maintain public health, and respect local, state, and federal guidelines,” Burning Man Project posted. Let’s all help prevent the spread of the COVID-19.”