A look back at Burning Man 2016

By Steve Moran

While at Burning Man this past fall, I conducted around 25 video interviews with folks traveling the street in front of the Aging Insurrection Camp. Over the Thanksgiving weekend I put together this little video of younger burners giving advice to elders.   

A Little More Burning Man

On November 1, 2016, The Burning Man Journal published an article titled, It Ain’t Nothing But a Number: Camp Aging Insurrection Puts Ageism in Its Place that talked about our Aging Insurrection Camp adventure and it includes a photo of my father in a hang glider trainer. It’s a great read, but I found the comments (65 at the time of this writing) to be as interesting as the article. Take a look at some of them below:

Lee Myerhoff says: November 6, 2016 at 6:30 pm

I just turned 85. Until 2014 my wife and I attended 8 burns. Had she not died, we planned on going in 2015. We drive up in our rented RV, and camp with Children of Chaos — with at least one other octogenarian and several other older burners and many younger burners. We were invited the first time to celebrate my 70th, by our 4 boys and their wives.

Katy Tahja says: November 1, 2016 at 8:43 am

The first newspaper story I ever wrote about Burning Man was called “Elder on the Playa” 5 years ago. My daughter brought me in 2012. I discovered Mobility Camp and have returned every year. We have lots of seniors. Come visit us next year, right behind Center Camp. If anyone wants to know more about being disabled and coming to Burning Man contact me . . .

B.J. Ebersold says: November 10, 2016 at 4:23 am

Greetings. We attended in 2011. Although we “did our homework” we did not know about Mobility Camp. In route from NY I had emergency foot surgery in SD. In Gerlock I traded my wheelchair and walker for crutches. At BRC we chanced onto Mobility Camp and met the Rat Lady. I have told her story a zillion times . . . about Service Rats.

Teri says: November 1, 2016 at 9:15 am

I’m 59, my first burn was three years ago in 2013. I went again in 2015. I absolutely love it. The extreme conditions put you outside your comfort zone, which is a good thing now and then. The feeling while there is . . . the most incredible magic. That will keep me coming back as long as I can.

bleurose (Jon Rosen) says: November 16, 2016 at 8:05 pm

My first burn on the playa was 2002 (Floating World) when I had just turned 51 and been divorced for a year. My ex and I had talked about going but she didn’t care for the idea so we always dropped it. I had no other obstacles in 2002 and I went and this past year was my 11th trip out of 15 years. I turned 65 this year and expect I will be back next year as well. I work with DMV and I can tell you that ageism is much rarer on the playa than in the default world.

Way Nervine says: November 1, 2016 at 10:03 am

It’s wonderful to see so many not losing their youthful spark. I’m 60 myself and believe BM and bms are essential therapy.

John Barkow says: November 1, 2016 at 10:13 am

I’m 68 and I have celebrated my birthday at Burning Man each year since 2003. We camp in the walk-in area near the airport and each year invite foreign first timers to camp with us and we supply the basics like shelter and bikes. So, campmates have sung Happy Birthday to me in many languages.

Dr.K says: November 1, 2016 at 1:31 pm

I am a 66 year old Burner. I have been going for the last 4 Burns and will continue until something stops me. I camp with my son and his camp. They are mostly in their 20s and early 30s and I was nervous the first time, wondering about the acceptance I would receive. The age difference disappeared immediately. I have since made good friends with a large group of people, many of whom I stay in touch with throughout the year. Black Rock City is for anyone who can open themselves to the experience!

MamaBeav says: – November 1, 2016 at 9:10 pm

I’m 64 and would love to go to the playa, but haven’t gotten any takers among my friends. This article gave me hope that I might just find kindred seniors if I go solo.

Geomom says:  November 2, 2016 at 8:00 am

There are plenty of us old farts out there. Just come!

QueenB says: November 1, 2016 at 9:34 pm

I’m 35 and many of my favorite Burners over the years have been 50+ years old. They’ve always worked their asses off to be there, usually even more than most. I’d be missing so much of life if it weren’t for them. They are badasses, as I’m sure are all of you! Burn on!

Rio says: November 1, 2016 at 11:02 pm

Ahh. So cool. Our camp ranges in age from 67 to 23 to 5. I’m 63, wife is 55. We burn intensely. Every year we challenge our younger campmates to dance with us ’till dawn. We make it but they don’t. HA. Light weights! Except for that we make no allowances for age. Good to know we still have at least another twenty years!

Meat Hunter says: November 2, 2016 at 6:28 am

Me? I am age 72. I have attended three Burns (2014, 2015 & 2016) and I have traveled & camped by myself each year. Two of my Burns, I drove the 2.300 miles (one way) solo and I am planning on driving it again in 2017. Although it is a 4-1/2 day drive; which is a bit of a journey and not just a casual drive for me; Finding and attending Burning Man has been well worth it and so much more. The event has lifted me out of the “Doldrums of Retirement” and has created for me a whole new circle of year-around friends and something to look forward to the next year. I have no idea how many more Burns that i have in me (that is not my call). I just take it one year at a time and every Burn is a blessing. And, for this, I am very grateful.

Dr. Bungee says: November 3, 2016 at 9:15 am

This last burn was my 21st, I’m now legal at BM. I’m 63 years young. Over the years I’ve done small art projects, helped numerous others with their things, and been involved with various theme camps. This has evolved into being a theme camp lead. My wife has evolved from being somewhat anti burner (“why do you spend so much time and money on that stuff”), to now being an integral part of our camp. Our camp consists of some old farts (50’s and 60’s), to a section we call “kids camp”. The ‘kids” generally consist of my son, his friends, my niece and her cohorts. They are in their 20’s and 30’s. It’s energizing to share this experience with them. When people ask me “How was your burn?”, I reply “It was a great family vacation”. I’ve recently heard a term for a group of people called perennials. It means people who can cross over different age groups, and are able to relate to everybody. This describes a lot of people at BM.

Gary Stone says: November 7, 2016 at 5:17 pm

I haven’t missed a Burn since my first in 2005 at age 62 . . . do the math! I’ve always camped with an organized camp . . . 5 or 6 different camps over that period. Last year I was with a bicycle repair camp (Elliot’s Naked Bike repair and Piano Bar) and what a great time! Really giving back by assisting folks getting their prime mover, their bike, back in action! And, yes . . . all of our bikes were naked!

Mystry-San Diego says: November 7, 2016 at 8:20 pm

I am 61 and enlivened the playa these last 8 burns with my delight in just being there. I joined the Playa Choir 3 years ago. 2 of our singers are in their 90’s. And they come back year after year. Another choir member has only missed One ! 1! burn. Ever! She’s seen it all! I am enriched by the youth, empowered by the art, and totally readjusted by the dust. I love it, hope to meet many of you and if you have a Facebook page for 50+ Burners, I would love to stay in touch. Much love

Denise Gallant says: November 8, 2016 at 10:40 am

I am 65 and this was my 12th burn out of 13 years. I think I am the oldest person at the playa still ‘living in a tent’. I am very able, dance (especially at Planet Earth), ride my bike and love the warm weather. (Lots of LA blood still in me). I would love to visit your camp next year. Also would like to help a day or so. EG: If there are older people out there, that could use a friend to walk across the playa with, or ride a bike. After a bike scare three years ago, (in the BM emergency for hours), I also do prefer to have a companion out there.

Lindo says: November 8, 2016 at 11:32 am

It is heartening to hear from so many 50 + burners. I wish that the on-line images of BM would better reflect the presence of people of all ages and body types. There is a plethora of young, very fit women that dominate the internet visual landscape. But the Playa is not limited to that one archetype of human beauty. I loved being 56 and free to express myself in clothing appropriate for the climate.

Sir Haberdash says: November 8, 2016 at 11:38 am

2016 was our first burn and I was 68. I’ll be there every year until I drop in place on the Playa! Move over 20-somethings or you’ll get left in our dust.

Valerie says: November 8, 2016 at 12:43 pm

I am just shy of my 63rd birthday and 2016 was my 12th burn. I was contemplating about how much longer I could attend Burning Man, when I met a man who was 82 and had been going for 20 years. He started when he was 62 so I certainly have at least 20 more burns in me. It sure put things into perspective!!

Norman Brooks says: November 14, 2016 at 12:36 pm

I’m 71 and this was my 11th Burn. My son invited me the first time and it has become a family tradition. I hope I never miss one.