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Burning Man’s most exclusive camp has been vandalised – and people are OK with it

Right now, the final day of Burning Man 2016 is underway deep in the Nevada desert. For most of the 30,000 punters about to emerge from Black Rock City, this year’s event has been smooth sailing – most, but not all.

White Ocean – an exclusive camp founded by DJ Paul Oakenfold and entrepreneurs Oliver Ripley and Timur Sardarov, the son of a Russian oil magnate billionaire – have taken to Facebook to report they’d been raided by a “band of hooligans” who flooded the camp with over 700 litres of water, glued trailer doors shut, vandalised camping infrastructure and cut the camp’s electrical lines, spoiling food and leaving them without refrigeration.

“This year has been quite the challenge for our camp,” they write. “We have felt like we’ve been sabotaged from every angle, but last night’s chain of events…was an absolute and definitive confirmation that some feel we are not deserving of Burning Man.”

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But the response on social media hasn’t been quite as sympathetic as White Ocean were probably hoping. Many commenters have railed against the “plug-and-play” camp, which allows moneyed Burners to purchase a vacation-style package experience on top of the ticket price, rather than contributing to Burning Man’s wider community. These camps are expressly discouraged by Burning Man HQ.

“These concierge or commodification camps undermine the social fabric of our community, which is unacceptable,” Burning Man address on their website. “Further, bringing a VIP lifestyle experience — with velvet ropes and wristbands — introduces an element of exclusivity into a culture that values inclusion, and those that opt in to these kinds of camps miss out on the transformative power of the event.”

That sentiment is being echoed on White Ocean’s Facebook page.  “I remember before the wealthy silicone valley snobs took over the Black Rock Desert with all their commercialism the Burning Man was a FREE event. Now tickets disappear within 45 minutes of offering at around $850.00 each,” the current top comment reads. “The whole Burning Man event should be burned to the ground it is so elitist and exclusionary.”

Other commenters have told White Ocean they “got what they deserved”, that they are “the most unwelcoming group on the playa” and that they are “part of the problem, and not party of the community”. Read all the comments on their Facebook page.

Katie Cunningham is one of the Editors of inthemix. She is on Twitter.