People Are Literally Shitting on Burning Man


I never really appreciated the phrase “some stories write themselves” until I began writing about Burning Man.

In the past few years, there’s been a plague of stinkbugs that descended on the playa, a donation of tree logs by Pacific Gas & Electric Company, and now this. It turns out that due to the lack of Porta-Potties far out in the depths of Black Rock Desert known as ‘the deep playa’, ravers are either hallucinating toilets or simply shitting where they dance. Since its inception, Burning Man has operated around the strict policy of ‘leave no trace’, meaning the desert must be returned to its natural state by the end of the festival. There’s even a crew of volunteers, The Bureau of Land Management’s Playa Restoration Team, who stay back for up to a month after Burning Man ends to help restore it to its pre-event condition. And it turns out that when it comes to Burner litter, they can handle the USB sticks, the Amex black cards, and the empty protein powder cylinders. But they’re sick of having to handle your shit.

The people to porta ratio

The problem is that out in the deep playa, there are few, if any, Porta-Potties. But a raver’s gotta rave, y’know man? And they have to do it out in the deep playa ’cause it turns out that dub-step Taylor Swift remixes dropped by none other than DJ Hedgefund Hazdog back at Burning Man HQ just won’t cut it for some Burners. So they’re venturing out into the great unknown to get their kicks, and as it turns out, to take their shits.

According to the Reno Gazette Journal, the Bureau Of Land Management will be placing “mobile rave zones” next to Porta-Potties, with signs erected to remind attendees to use the toilets, which is a real sad sentence to have to write. Humans invented electricity, heart surgery, and the Internet, but also still need a sign to remind them not to crap on the floor. According to the Bureau, staff and volunteers already “search for and quickly clean up human waste deposited during deep playa music events”, which is another sad sentence to write. But this year, things are gonna be different because they plan to “hand out or ask Burners to bring pee bottle and poop bags for camp and deep playa events.” Please kill me.

So, just to recap, aside from the well-chronicled sham of a spiritual awakening that is Burning Man, what’s the problem with 80,000 people taking annual leave (and a few mad dogs just calling in sick, lol) and congregating in the middle of a desert for one week with designer drugs, no running water, and a disproportionate number of portable toilets? Their inability to defecate in a designated area. That is the problem.

If you are a returning Burner reading this, I unequivocally do not understand you on a human level, and the difference in the cloths by which we are cut from is akin to silk vs canvas. If you are a new Burner, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed about what cosmic discoveries lay ahead for you this weekend, stay home. Take it from someone who learnt this lesson the hard way: there ain’t nothing but shit for you there.

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