Some “hardcore” Burning Man attendees have opted to stay on the muddy remains of Black Rock City and keep the party going — claiming that it’s a better scene now that the thousands of “weak” festival-goers who hit the road when the travel ban was lifted earlier this week are gone.
The mass exodus “weeded out the weak,” Sarah Jane Woodall, 46, told the Daily Mail.
Woodall – who is better known by her online fanbase as Wonderhussy – said the horrific conditions actually improved the experience by “distilling the attendance down to just the hard-core survivors.”
She noted that she planned to stay through at least Wednesday, but others told Live 5 News they may stay even longer as traffic snarled the “narrow two-lane highway” out of the Nevada Black Rock Desert, where the annual festival is held.
Traffic was so congested at one point that drivers spent about seven hours to drive just five miles.
“This is my thirteenth time, and for me it was exactly what was needed,” Woodall said of her experience at this year’s Burning Man.
“It’s kind of a thing with veteran Burning Man attendees that you become sort of jaded, like ‘Oh, 13 times? It’s always the same thing, this is getting boring. Why do I do this every year?’
“I was having those thoughts earlier in the week, and then when it started raining, it completely changed the event for me,” she explained.
“For me, it made it one of the best I’ve had because it was so interesting and it also weeded out the weak.”
For many long-time Burners like herself, Woodall said, there is a resentment toward the newbies.
“Another complaint among Burners is, ‘Oh, these new people, they don’t understand Burning Man culture. They just come for the weekend, they think it’s Coachella, they’re half-assed partiers.’
“Well, all those people left as soon as they could.”
Woodall went on to say that she did not plan to leave on Tuesday, when the travel time was cut to just two to three hours.
“People are tired and stressed, and so conditions are probably going to be unsafe,” she said, noting: “It’s a narrow, two-lane highway in and out of here.
“I would rather not get into that mess, so I made the decision to stay and wait until the bulk of the population has left.”
She added that dozens of diehard Burners were planning to stay for the burning of a makeshift temple on Tuesday night, so a second wave of departures was expected for Wednesday.
But some planned to stay even longer, with one unidentified man telling Live 5 News: “I feel like people might be here ‘til Thursday.”
“We’re going to be stuck here a few extra days, and that’s just one thing you have to plan for when you come to Burning Man,” another reveler told the local news station, while a third explained, “We’re all happy here, we don’t want this to end.”
More than 73,000 festival attendees spent the weekend stuck in foot-deep mud after a rain storm drenched the Black Rock Desert, according to the Reno Gazette Journal.
As torrential downpour continued, event organizers told the thousands who were stuck to conserve their food and water as traveling back and forth on the muddy roads became nearly impossible.
Cutter Ray Palacios, a first-time Burning Man attendee, told FOX Weather attendees spent the time telling stories, playing music and card games, spending time in art installations known as “art cars” and watching the sun rise together.
He also noted how some people shared food, water and other resources with one another, particularly as the remote location of the festival and the road closures caused by floodwater prevented attendees from leaving or receiving much outside help.
“Burning Man’s all about community and talking with one another, and we continued to do that through the rain,” he said.
Yet at least one death has been confirmed at Burning Man during the flooding rains on Friday.
Leon Reece of Truckee, Calif. was pronounced dead by a doctor on Sept. 1, but Washoe County Regional Medical Examiner’s Office officials said preliminary results show the 32-year-old likely had drugs in his system.
“The cause and manner of death are pending investigation, but drug intoxication is suspected,” the medical examiner’s office said in a statement on Tuesday.
Reece’s manner and cause of death are still pending. An autopsy is being conducted and an investigation is ongoing, law enforcement officials said Tuesday.
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