• Mikaal Bates

Why REAL MEN Should NEVER go to Burning Man

Updated: Sep 26


For those of you who have had your head buried in the sand this September, Burning Man did not happen this year.

You, (Man who is reading this,) hopefully would not have been there either way, provided you place a high value on your Manhood.

I, on the other hand, definitely would have been there.

For the 13th god-awful time.

Allow me to explain:

If Burning Man had happened this year, the probability that I would have been there, doused in 7+ days worth of sweat, dust, tears, and blood, wearing hot-pink tights, an iridescent women’s crop top, and make-up to rival an 80’s hair band while dancing cheek-to-jowl with a coterie of high-volume humans of all varieties to filthy-nasty-dirty bass music...

…is high. Really high.

We’re talking 95.8% high.

Now, some of you might be saying to yourself right now, “Hey, that sounds pretty cool!”

WRONG. You are wrong.

That is how “they” get you.

What you REALLY should be saying is, “Why would a perfectly respectable heterosexual man-stud with plenty of upward mobility and a panoply of opportunities galore allow himself to be subjected to this degree of potentially reputation-destroying tom-foolery?”

Keep reading, loyal Man-Brothers. For I am about to expose the REAL TRUTH about Burning Man- the truth no one ever told me back in 2006 when I was first bait-and-switched into selling my precious, immortal soul to this Man-Burning, femme-fueled fiasco.

The truth is, Burning Man caught me, bro.

Perfectly primed to catch strapping Man-bunnies like you and me in its jewel-studded trap, Burning Man is one big, shiny, glitter-covered rabbit snare, baited with babes and danger, perfectly designed to transform REAL MEN into vulnerable, sissified hippy-dudes.

The best I can do now is fight the good fight from the inside-out, each year returning from this damnable desert debauche to sound the alarm bells to school REAL MEN LIKE YOU on how to avoid suffering the permanent loss of your manhood.

I mean, they burn a MAN, dude.

Does that sound like a man-friendly activity to you?

Just listen to a few examples of what has befallen yours truly and countless other unassuming manly Men at the Burning Man in years past:

  • At the Burning Man you may encounter nearly unavoidable opportunities to get hood-winked into partaking in paradigm-shattering experiences and the subsequent resulting revelations that naturally arise from a week-long vision-questing mind-explosion with 70,000 of your new closest friends in a freakin’ desert… Lame.

  • Or, God-forbid, you could fuck up and fall face-first into an experience of Unity Consciousness as a result of participation in tribal rituals mirroring the shared anthropological origins of every human being on the planet, regardless of where their genetics come from…. So lame.

  • Even WORSE, you could accidentally share in the unshakeable mind-fuck that is “group coherence” after diving deep with a pantheon of brothers-and-sisters-from-other-misters who somehow become like second family to the degree that, upon parting at festivals end, you are left with the horrifying sense of deep Purpose and Fulfillment in your life to the degree that if you were to literally drop dead in that moment, you might actually die complete, having fully given your gifts and truest self to the World… Super lame.

  • And FINALLY, there is a snowball’s chance in HELL that you could unwittingly encounter “Men’s Work” for the first time, just like I did, and then get the ridiculous idea to create and facilitate a “Male Rite of Passage” specifically for Men who never got to take part in a ritual ceremonially liberating them from the “childish things” of their boyhoods and planting them firmly into a Manhood typified by the voluntary and conscious acceptance of their allotted portion of suffering in the world but personified by their choice to carry it forward as an act of loving service, witnessed by and in the company of a brotherhood of men from all races, religions, cultures, creeds and sexual orientations… The absolute LAMEST.

I mean, can you IMAGINE the shock of innocently attending what at first glance seems like a perfectly good block-party of unusual size that actually turns out to be a “transformational festival” in disguise, slapping you up-side the head (NON-CONSENSUALLY I might add), with all kinds of “woo-woo” personal-development bullshit?!

Trust me, bro. You don’t want that. Go to Coachella instead.

Everyone knows Coachella is much better anyway.

Seriously. It’s much better.

Because Burning Man will straight up RUIN YOUR LIFE.

You do NOT want to find yourself emotionally open and cuddling with some gorgeous, “woke”, Elvish babe with braided blue hair-extensions and a plunging v-neck chakra-themed bodysuit, cause that sorceress will witchcraft you into trading in your pain-forged, self-protective Man-shell for a healthy dose of emotional intelligence, self-reflection, non-violent communication, and “radical self-expression”. What does that even mean?

Let me tell you bro, Burning Man is a huge part of why this Great Country of ours is going to hell in a hand-basket, and if YOU’RE NOT CAREFUL, it’ll get you too.

Before you even know it, you’ll end up handing in all your hard-fought, calcified paradigms of live-to-work anxiety, exclusivity-based social life, and power-crazed masculine hierarchies to start dressing like a star trek reject, scarfing research chemicals in some bacchanalian dance-orgy with every pore in your body excreting a salty cocktail of EDM-induced liberality.

I mean, just LISTEN to these super-lame, Man-shaming, Freedom-killing principles they force you to adhere to while in attendance:

The 10-Principles of Burning Man:

1. Radical Inclusion - Anyone may be a part of Burning Man. We welcome and

respect the stranger. No prerequisites exist for participation in our community.

2. Gifting - Burning Man is devoted to acts of gift giving. The value of a gift is

unconditional. Gifting does not contemplate a return or an exchange for

something of equal value.

3. Decommodification - In order to preserve the spirit of gifting, our community seeks to create social environments that are unmediated by commercial sponsorships, transactions, or advertising. We stand ready to protect our culture from such exploitation. We resist the substitution of consumption for participatory experience.

4. Radical Self-reliance - Burning Man encourages the individual to discover, exercise and rely on his or her inner resources.

5. Radical Self-expression - Radical self-expression arises from the unique gifts of the individual. No one other than the individual or a collaborating group can determine its content It is offered as a gift to others. In this spirit, the giver should respect the rights and liberties of the recipient.

6. Communal Effort - Our community values creative cooperation and collaboration. We strive to produce, promote and protect social networks, public spaces, works of art, and methods of communication that support such interaction.

7. Civic Responsibility - We value civil society. Community members who organize events should assume responsibility for public welfare and endeavor to communicate civic responsibilities to participants. They must also assume responsibility for conducting events in accordance with local, state and federal laws.

8. Leave No Trace - Our community respects the environment. We are committed to leaving no physical trace of our activities wherever we gather. We clean up after ourselves and endeavor, whenever possible, to leave such places in a better state than when we found them.

9. Participation - Our community is committed to a radically participatory ethic. We believe that transformative change, whether in the individual or in society, can occur only through the medium of deeply personal participation. We achieve being through doing. Everyone is invited to work. Everyone is invited to play. We make the world real through actions that open the heart.

10. Immediacy - Immediate experience is, in many ways, the most important touchstone of value in our culture. We seek to overcome barriers that stand between us and a recognition of our inner selves, the reality of those around us, participation in society, and contact with a natural world exceeding human powers. No idea can substitute for this experience.”

I mean, what kinda Socialist bullshit is this? How are we as Freedom-Loving Men of the World supposed to purchase our way into an experience of culturally proclaimed authenticity with all these lame “principles” bogging us down and forcing our undesired personal contribution?

I mean, how are we supposed to virtue-signal our participation in a trending cultural phenomenon if we’re unable to purchase branded content and souvenirs proving our participation?

And what about the God-given freedom to toss garbage in the general direction of an overflowing, unattended trash can? THERE ARE NO TRASH CANS!?! How is someone supposed to throw something “AWAY”, if there’s no “away”?!? I mean, why should anyone be forced to take their own garbage home? It smells!


On top of that, other self-righteous Burners will publicly shame you for non-compliance!

TYRANNY, I say!

Personally, it would make me way more comfortable to know all the money to create this festival was coming from outside sponsorship rather than the originating community. Allowing people to radicalize into realizing they have the collective power to finance their own functional organizations and experience is downright dangerous, and a real threat to vested corporate interests.

BURNING MAN 2021 - brought to you by Burger King”, has such a nice ring to it...

But WORST OF ALL, fellas- I’ve got a real TRIGGER WARNING for all you REAL MEN out there, and I don’t say this lightly:

If you go to Burning Man, you are going to DIE.


I’m fucking serious.

Don’t let ‘em trick you with their parties and hotties and 40-foot flaming effigies.

If you go to Burning Man, the Man you were before is going to DIE.

Ok, odds are good you probably won’t actually die. Not physically at least. But PART of you is DEFINITELY going to DIE out there in that flaming desert. In fact, odds are high you will DIE in at LEAST one of the following ways if you attend:

  • Existentially.

  • Psychologically.

  • Symbolically.

  • Metaphorically.

  • Spiritually.

Doesn’t that sound like fun?

NO. The answer is No.

I don’t care that your white Neo-Shaman friends are telling you it’s safe. Don’t do it.

I don’t care that you just paid $7grand to attend a 6.25 day-long Ayahuasca/Kambo/5-meo-DMT journey in the Peruvian Amazon while micro-dosing psilocybin and hitting the rapé-pipe every 5 minutes. Don’t do it.

I don’t care that you already geared up with a be-jeweled captain’s hat (that you definitely didn’t make yourself), a culturally appropriating poncho, and some tribal markers. DON’T DO IT.

You want an EPIC PARTY with plenty of shitty MDMA, selfie-taking “Sparkle-Ponies” galore, and all the trappings of spiritual materialism without any of the actual spirituality?

Go to Venice. Or Coachella. Coachella is awesome!

Just whatever you do, DON’T go to Burning Man.

Burning Man will fuck you up. Trust me.

You don’t even need to be on drugs!

I was completely sober my first 6 years and my entire psyche still felt like it got blown out with a pressure washer, dunked in tie-dye and spun-dry in that sadistic teacup ride at Disneyland.

“But BATES,” you may ask. “How did your entire psyche get blown out like it had been pressure washed, dunked in tie-dye, and spun-dry in that sadistic teacup ride at Disneyland if you WEREN’T ON DRUGS?!?!

I’ll tell you how, hombre: Burning Man is LITERALLY a “Rite of Passage” in the most technical sense of the word.

What’s a ‘Rite of Passage’, you wonder? Peep the work of fancy-ass dudes like enthnographer & folklorist Arnold Van Gennep, religious historian Mircea Eliade, or comparative mythologist, Joseph Campbell for a real breakdown. But since we both know non-fiction is for nerds, allow me to enlightening your naïve ass from personal experience:

A traditional ‘Rite of Passage’ takes place in three crucial stages.

1. The Separation - You literally leave behind the “ordinary world”, which means say bye-bye to your perfectly predictable yet spirit-stifling routine, empowerment-preventing 9-5 job, ‘Thanksgiving-on-meth’ family dynamics, and partially neutered “beige” romantic relationships, to head off into the desert like Jesus. But instead of 40 days in the desert, you’re only out there for like, 7 days, so not quite as bad-ass as Jesus. Unless of course, you’re on a build team and come early to set up infrastructure for the entire festival, or your respective theme-camps. Then you’re out there for like 2+ weeks or so. Still not as bad-ass as Jesus, though.

(But maybe you’re one of those “Burning Man Lifers” who avoid real-world responsibilities by

taking on the responsibility of ensuring that the desert stays clean, cared-for, and preserved

year-round. I mean, these wackos actually stay out there for like, 3 months after we all go

home, combing the endless playa arm-in-arm like dry-land lifeguards, plumbing for all the

little pieces of trash, hair, and plastic we carelessly leave behind. Get a real job, losers.)

2. The ORDEAL: The Very act of attempting to subsist in a hostile environment with all sorts of wild, unpredictable stuff+people+concepts going on all around you 360*, 24/7, is kind of a lot. There’s no way to avoid “going through something” out there- which means discomfort on all levels of human and experience, which creates a sense of heightened senses and experiences, along with a higher connection to those around you also going through the same exact thing. A “unifying field” eventually emerges, stretching the length of 70,000 love-drunk souls, which for that one week happens to become the 10th largest city in the state of Nevada.

3. The RETURN - The “Return” as popularized in Campbell’s “The Hero’s Journey” involves “Returning with the elixir”, which, despite what you may have heard, is not a thermos full of ayahuasca smuggled in your checked-luggage, but rather involves the aggregate of your entire experience at Burning Man distilled down to its most crucial wisdom for the sake of dissemination into the larger community and Self as gift and tribute to all. The process of returning to the “default word” (aka, the real world), can be incredibly challenging for many Men, as it slyly attempts to catalyze a systemic up-leveling in your consciousness, ethos, and life-purpose. (The journey home from Burning Man also often involves the often 6-10 hour super-fun

experience that is “Exodus”- the name for what happens when 70,000 dehydrated, brain-fried

festy-kids all try to leave at the same time through the maddening bottleneck that is two-

lane Nevada state highway 447.)

Sounds like fun yea? Nope.


Trust me, you do NOT want to go through a Rite of Passage.

If you do, you will start feeling things.

And remember MEN- feeling is a woman’s job.

That’s why Women exist.

To feel things so Men don’t have to.

Cause if a MAN LIKE YOU started feeing things, he might start to notice things.

Horrible things. Terrible things.

Like, maybe you get back from all these revelations at Burning Man and realize you’ve been living a sham life all these years under the collective weight of your cultural conditioning and now after all those years of hard work stuffing down your real emotions, you realize that deep down in your heart you’re meant to be a poet, or a mountaineer, a decent husband, or a good father- and now you’re feeling the pain of that unlived, unmet purpose and you can’t quite smother it down anymore with the usual parade of Jäger-bombs, strippers & cocaine…

Is that what you want?

Allow me to quote the REAL HERO of “The Matrix”, who famously schools Agent Smith while enjoying a delicious-yet-not-real bite of steak as he sells out his friends:

“Ignorance is bliss...” -Cypher from “The Matrix”


Of course, there are those SPECIAL FEW who manage to attend Burning Man and NOT die existentially or get sucked into a life of hemp-dressed, dread-locked bong-logging.

These bad-ass Men are so fucking committed to their disconnection, unconsciousness, lack of presence, and emotion-free somnambulance, (the likes of which only real trauma and unseen shadow can produce when suppressed over time), that they somehow manage to endure an entire weeklong transformational festival and NOT up-level to the degree that their entire constructed life doesn’t begin to unravel, and don’t emerge from the ashes of their “death-process” into a new way of being that is anathema and antidote to the disconnection, unconsciousness, lack of presence, etc, previously described.

MY. FUCKING. HEROES.

And maybe, just maybe, you are one of these bad-asses. But do you REALLY want to take the chance? So for the REST OF US who aren’t NAVY SEALS of UNCONSCIOUSNESS, here is the sum total of my research after 13 years of Man-damning debauchery:

In my 13 years of insider research, the terrible news is that Burning Man is an emergence point/training ground for the Feminine/Masculine Revolution on planet Earth.

Translated from “dirty hippie”, that means at Burning Man, MEN LIKE YOU are permitted to do, be, express, emote, embody and try-on any fucking thing they want, so long as they aren’t hurting anyone else in the process. ATTEMPT AT YOUR OWN RISK.

I’ll be the first to tell you:

At Burning Man, you will feel things.

You will learn things.

You may even accidentally decalcify the disconnection and shadow aspects of your inborn nature and cultural conditioning.

It is not just a party in the desert. Part of you will LITERALLY DIE.

Your sense of what it means to be a Man in the world may be irrevocably altered.

You may see a side of human beings in their fullest expression that you can’t ever unsee.

You may unwittingly begin dressing like an autonomous, ostentatious Man-Beast.

And you will definitely get playa dust into every conceivable part of your body. Gross.

To conclude, Burning Man, in short, is a metaphor.

Because the Man who Burns out there in the desert, isn’t the 40-foot wooden effigy…


…the Man who Burns… is YOU.

(And it is also actually the 40-foot wooden effigy. But it’s really you.)

I mean, what kind of world would this become if Men everywhere started “Burning” their old paradigms of disconnection, bottom-line-based consumption, power-based domination and started to be “Born Again” into connection, trustability, Presence, sensitivity, self-mastery, and competence-based leadership, en masse?

(…Shiver…)

Ugh.

No thanks, bro.

“Just say No.”

Which way to Robot Heart…?