The Burning Man Series Wrap-Up: Resources for Dress Researchers

Burning Man starts on Monday, August 29th, and I hope this last post comes in time to help those of you about to head off the grid. Whether you are going ‘just’ to participate or you’ve got grand academic plans for analysis, a few of these resources will certainly help deepen your appreciation for all that happens at and because of Burning Man.

Burning Nerds, 2008 by Aaron Siladi

Academics and the Opportunity to Study Dress on the Playa

For scholars headed to Burning Man, there are a number of opportunities to get together and bounce ideas around. A group called “Burning Nerds,” (via google groups) helps professors and researchers stay updated on “recent, relevant, and ongoing research about our collective experience in Black Rock City, and find out about meet-ups, collaborations, and future events” (They also have a Facebook page). To learn more, check out the Academics page, which is quite comprehensive and includes a list of scholarly works focused on Burning Man.

I’d personally be very interested in hearing from anyone whose academic research focuses on the costume element-and a few of you have already reached out (thank you!). Two events on the playa itself should help to ignite (pardon the pun) scholarly discussions of costumes at Burning Man:

Event 1: On Friday, September 2, from 2:30-5, Burning Nerds will be meeting on the playa for a cocktail soiree and meet-n-greet (More here). If you’re interested, please RSVP to

Event 2:  A special Fashion Show will be held on the Playa on Saturday, September 3 from 5:30-7pm at the Center Camp Cafe. According to Arts Advocate & Special Events Producer for Burning Man, $teven Ra$pa, this annual Black Rock City People’s Fashion Show “allows anyone to get up and walk on the catwalk and provides a forum to spotlight creative body adornment, costuming and personas on the playa.”

Additional Reading

A few additional resources that  seemed particularly interesting/useful (especially to someone located in the Bay Area and studying fashion are:

  • “Radical Conformity: Fashion Trends at Burning Man.” (Conference presentation) by Rachel Clarke, Popular Culture Association National Conference, San Francisco, CA, 2008. Note: Sadly, this paper does not seem to be available online, but I did hear Rachel Clarke at the PCA conference and her paper was enlightening.

Thanks to readers for their enthusiasm over this series – I hope you’ve enjoyed reading the different points of view as much as I have. In September, I’ll have one final post from a special guest writer on the 2011 Burner experience – watch for it!

Previous posts in the Burning Man Series: Nevada’s Desert Dress:

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