On a San Francisco beach in 1986, a group of friends got together to celebrate the summer solstice by burning a 1.8 metre-tall wooden figure. This annual tradition would snowball in the early 90s into an event now known as Burning Man and, as its popularity grew, it was forced to move to the Nevada desert to accommodate 70,000 people in attendance for its most recent event in 2019.
The requirements are simple: attendees must carry what is necessary to survive a week, because businesses of any kind or exchange of money are not accepted. The location where everything happens, Black Rock, does not exist the rest of the year, so it is the ‘burners’ themselves who construct it every time. At first it was based on tents or caravans, but the overflowing creativity has caused the proliferation of mobile homes, with designs from the most delusional minds, and the most extravagant pop-up constructions.
Despite its somewhat hippie beginnings, which maintain values such as communal effort and civic responsibility in their bylaws, recent years has seen the festival become immensely popular with tech start-up crowds from Silicon Valley.
While Google founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, have been going to Black Rock for a long time (in fact, the first Google doodle was a Burning Man), other prominent businessmen such as Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg and, of course, Elon Musk have also attended, the latter claiming that he had the idea for his SolarCity while he watched the wooden man burn.