White Ocean Riot


Everything had been going swimmingly at this year’s Burning Man, the annual desert festival devoted to “decommodification” and “radical self-reliance,” reports social media specialist Becky Wicks in a GQ post:

I turned my head up to the giant shrimp rotating on the ceiling, and realised the end of it had been cleverly moulded into the shaft of a penis. Before I could voice this fact aloud however, I was being thrust a sippy cup full of champagne, the shrimp-penis was forgotten and I found myself bouncing with my new friend MacGyver on a trampoline, in my shimmering fairy costume and wings. “Life is soooooo fun!” we screamed into the dust clouds, as my champagne flew everywhere. “This is so good!” And it was.

Then the hooligans arrived. In a wink Burning Man turned into Occupy Burning Man. The target of the insurgents’ wrath was the White Ocean luxury camp, an air-conditioned “plug-and-play” enclave of the rich and beautiful bankrolled by the son of a Russian oil billionaire. (Radical self-reliance doesn’t come cheap these days.) In the middle of the night, the hooligans snuck past White Ocean’s security detail, raided the posh outpost, flooded it with water, glued the doors of its RVs shut, and cut its electrical lines. With no power, the refrigeration system shut down and the champagne lost its chill.

It was a class war in a classless commune and, as The Telegraph reported, symbolized a larger rift: “The big tensions that have been rubbing up against each other in the tech scene for decades erupted to the surface.”

On Facebook, White Ocean issued a plaintive message about the unpleasantness:

A very unfortunate and saddening event happened last night at White Ocean, something we thought would never be possible in OUR Burning Man utopia. A band of hooligans raided our camp, stole from us, pulled and sliced all of our electrical lines leaving us with no refrigeration and wasting our food and, glued our trailer doors shut, vandalized most of our camping infrastructure, dumped 200 gallons of potable water flooding our camp.

We immediately contacted authorities. Sheriffs came to our camp along with rangers to take our report.

Sad, yes, but it’s comforting to know that, even in utopia, authorities are on call.