"Books, Records, Films -- these things matter. Call me shallow but it's the damn truth." - High Fidelity

March 19, 2012

Top 5 Reasons Not to buy Burning Man tickets from StubHub

Just Say No!
It’s come to my attention that people are actually buying scalped Burning Man tickets from StubHub.  (All tickets under $1500 are gone, some 8s have become 6s.)  I know that we all want to go to Burning Man, and some Burners have more money than others, but this still saddens me, for a number or reasons, most of them involving basic economics.

1. Burners don’t pay above face value - If we don’t buy them, the prices will go down.  Personally, if the STEP program doesn’t come through for me, I plan to buy tickets the week before the festival for face value from a very desperate scalper.  I think there’s going to be a lot of desperate scalpers at the last minute, because despite the demand for these tickets, Real Burners don’t pay above face value.

2. They don’t even have the tickets in hand - It’s one thing to buy some one’s extra ticket on eBay, when they’re holding it in their hands and have taken a picture for it and the receipt for all to see.  It’s quite another to buy from a scalper three months before Burning Man tickets are even shipped.  Regardless of your financial situation, there’s no logical reason to buy something from someone who doesn’t have it.  It’s like buying nothing for something.  Only a sucker would take that bet.  

3. They could have their tickets rights revoked - Scalping is anathema to the Burning Man community.  When these scalpers are caught (and they will be caught) they will lose all of their ticket rights. This includes the tickets they already sold to you.  And don’t expect StubHub to have your back when your scalped tickets don’t arrive in the mail.  It’s clear from our interactions with them in the past that the tech support department at StubHub is like the lady from the phone company in the classic SNL sketch.  “We don’t care, we don’t have to.”  The scalpers will have your money and all you’ll have is a receipt from StubHub.  Good luck getting them to accept that at Gate.

4. The tickets could be counterfeit - What’s easier than beating the Burning Man Lottery with Visa Cash Cards and multiple addresses?  Simply printing your own tickets at home!  How do you know that the scalped tickets on StubHub aren’t just stylish knockoffs?  Counterfeiting technology has become so advanced that even the hundred-dollar bill is updated every few years (and it keeps getting uglier!).  They put in magnetic strips and use fancy paper with special inks, but the counterfeiters keep coming back.  How hard do you think it will be to counterfeit Burning Man tickets? Watermarks?  Magnetic Strips?  Counterfeit tickets will be out there.  Don’t get StubHubbed.

5. It will cause permanent damage to your soul  - It’s one thing to joke about how the $100,000 Burning Man tickets include Gold Port-a-Potty access and if you have a red star on your lanyard, you will be granted access to an enchanted air-conditioned garden packed with nymphomaniac sex slaves dressed as Tinkerbell who will service your every human need, but that's really just a load of bullshit.  Your $2500 ticket will grant you access to the same dusty wasteland that my $240 ticket would if I had won the lottery.  Burning Man is about more than just buying the ticket.  Your alligator skin wallet may get you in the door, but after that it’s up to you.  There are no beer gardens or lavish amenities.  There are no bracelets that entitle you to all the alcohol you can drink. You have to earn your drinks, by acting silly or reciting Shakespeare (and sometimes they don’t like Shakespeare).  If you didn’t bring shelter from the dust, you’ll be out in it (and there’s gonna be a lot of dust this year).  It’s not enough just to buy the ticket and take the ride.  To really go to Burning Man you need to join the Burning Man community 
and you join that community by not paying above face value for your ticket. We all want to go, but Real Burners don’t pay above face value.  If you do, what does that say about you?

Become a Real Burner. Don’t buy Burning Man tickets above face value.  Be patient and wait for your ticket to find you.  It’ll be there. Be true to Burning Man and Burning Man will be true to you.

In the meantime, please consider Signing the Petition (we’re nearing 300 and it would be really neat if we made it). It'd also be great if you joined Burners Against Scalpers on facebook. I know we can solve this problem if we all work together.


  1. As best I can read this... the choice is to be a "real" burner, likely at home on the couch, or to unfortunately violate the spirit of an event that matters to you because the organizers made mistakes.

    While philosophically it's great to have faith that a ticket will find you for those of us planning to put months of work into art (and drive it across the country) it's hard to take solace in that.

    The truth is that we, as a community, cannot fix this problem. Only the organizers can. Until there are more tickets than attendees scalping will happen, and recent changes have only increased the market tenfold.

    I sat on the couch last year, because I was philosophically opposed to buying scalped tickets. I won't be sitting on the couch this year as well. How many times are you willing to miss Burning Man in order to prevent scalping? I think your hope to find a desperate scalper this year is misplaced. I certainly hope STEP works out for you, but I strongly suspect the scalping market will remain very strong until the day of.

    On the earlier bit, the sad thing is since tickets won't ship until June, I probably won't have time to actually make anything... because as you correctly point out, anyone who buys tickets right now off StubHub is likely to lose out.

    Does the community benefit there? Not really, one less art car to enjoy and one more rented RV. One less person in elaborate outfits, and one more person in shorts and sandals. No free art bikes (I'd hope to refurb a few and let anyone take them).

    I don't get the real experience either... don't get to experience the joy of creating anything, or sharing it, but at least I'll get something out of the experience. Better than nothing... and certainly better than creating everything and then "that ticket" not finding me. How heartbreaking would that be?

  2. Thats great but in fact scalpers don't get caught and almost no tickets are voided. Wait until the last minute to by tickets and all thats left are scalped tickets. The demand is ten times the supply, thats life.