This is what Burning Man looked like in the ’90s
Though considerably smaller than it is today, Burning Man has been held annually since 1986. The event’s steady rise in popularity over its first 11 years in existence caught the public eye in 1997 when ABC decided to do an investigative piece on the burgeoning cultural phenomenon.
At the time, Burning Man was but a 5-day event with roughly 10,000 participants (it now stands at 65,000). ABC’s reporters covered fascinating aspects of the gathering including self expression and the lack of commercial trade, as well as problems facing it at the time such as debt due to increased security costs.
Festival founders in the video can be heard expressing their concern over the ratio between creators, participants a partiers — a divide which seems ever more pressing given the recent vandalization of the “plug and play” White Ocean camp.
Watch the full ABC feature above.