From "Shirt Cocking" to "Playa Diddy," House Legend Lee Burridge on All Things Burning Man
“There’s amazing, fun, funny, weird shit happening constantly. We camped next to an ‘Enema Camp’ a few years ago hosted by two very hairy Midwest bears”
There must be something special about Burning Man for someone of Lee Burridge's globetrotting ilk to return year after year. Burridge spent time crafting a nascent dance scene in early 1990s Hong Kong, partied for months on end on Thailand beaches, and worked hand in hand with the likes of Sasha and Craig Richards at warehouse raves in the UK, but it's his time on the Playa that brings back his fondest memories.
"It's a place where you get that feeling of excitement you first got when your parents took you to the fairground or carnival for the first time," he tells THUMP. "And you were buzzing from never seeing or feeling anything like that before."
With the boom of electronic music culture in the past decade, Burning Man has experienced some growing pains that are parallel to many other aspects of an industry growing exponentially year in and year out. "I don't see this as a bad thing," says Burridge. "Hopefully the light bulb will come on and they will suddenly find themselves in this brilliant, unique and wonderful place surrounded by so many new potential experiences and the ability to connect with fantastical people and adventures they never imagined existed outside of the minds of crazed lunatics."
Thanks to social media posts from high class businessmen and celebrities alike, Burning Man has, for better or worse, somewhat become a springboard for famous people to push their personal brands much like other more mainstream festivals. Burridge sees it differently. He sees the possible positivity that can come from these household names taking time out of their lives to experience Black Rock City.
"What would be cool is if our darling celebs actually gave back and did something humble. How cool would it be if Playa Diddy was serving bacon (vegan of course) sandwiches on Tuesday afternoon in his camp or if Paris Hilton helped sweep the camp between for a few hours each day?"
Camps themselves have not been saved from recent media and longtime burner backlash. This year Russian trust fund kid turned entrepreneur Timur Sardarov teamed up with our favorite DJ-that-looks-like-an-alien Paul Oakenfold for The White Ocean Camp, which will feature acts that you are more likely to see headlining your city's summer rave than in the desert in the middle of Nevada. Above and Beyond, Markus Shulz, Fehrplay, Sander Van Doorn and more big room acts will be featured at White Ocean this year.
"I feel that camps like White Ocean are missing (or ignoring) the point a little and are treating it like other music festivals and clubs. Paul Oakenfold 'presenting' it is only doing what so many others are doing right now. Using BM as real world media currency. Advertising who's playing before hand off Playa isn't really what BM was ever about."
The point that Burridge really wants sceptics and longtime burners to realize is that, much like life, change is something that should be cherished and not frowned upon. People change and so should Burning Man.
Protip though, this year guys, leave your "shirt cocking" at home. "Shirt cocking" is the practice in which men decide to only wear a shirt and let the rest all hang loose. Burridge is not a fan: "When it is time to go out to the temple where many people are having deeply personal, moving experiences and letting go of pain… Perhaps!!!!, just perhaps, you might put on your pants buddy."
If you see Burridge out there he implores you to come up and say hi. Have fun out there next week as I try to get the picture of men wearing only shirts out of my head for the rest of the month.
Blondtron Had More Fun at Burning Man than Anyone in the Entire World
Burning Man-born House of Dust, Understand Your Inner Party Needs
The Glitch Mob: From Basements to Burning Man to the Biggest Stages on Earth