In a triumph for climate change, four hundred pairs of Google Glass were ruined instantly yesterday when the heavens opened above Reno, Nevada, causing the Burning Man festival to be shut down. Burning Man is an annual gathering of some of the world’s most disruptive and visionary people. But even the transformative power of Silicon Valley’s mega-rich, hoodied entrepreneurs was no match for Mother Nature.
“My Mexican top hat is bent, the WiFi is broken on my RV and I don’t think the fairy lights work on my chopper any more,” said Zack Campbell, 23, a social media manager from San Francisco. “The worst thing is the desert dust on my Doc Martens has washed off! I hadn’t cleaned those things in like six years. The distressed look is ruined.”
Other Burners told us similarly harrowing stories. “Now I’m stuck in the mobile home talking to the people I’ve travelled with which is not at all why I’m here. I should be hoofing blow off two Nebraskan arts students’ tits by now,” Aditya Bhattacharya, a programmer who works at a venture-funded startup in Palo Alto, confided.
“At the very least I should be playing Russian roulette with the pills and cakes being handed out by an acid-addled 60-year-old ballerina from Michigan,” he added.
Burning Man’s “leave no trace” policy, which requires festival attendees to clean up after themselves thoroughly at the end of their stay, appeared to be in tatters last night as older mobile homes began sinking into the mud, leaving behind small puddles filled with feathers and glitter.
And the festival’s ban on currency fell apart as bewildered ravers began trading essentials. “Dude, don’t suppose you got a spare battery for a GoPro? My charger is solar,” one woman, dressed as Xena, Warrior Princess, was heard to say as she knocked back warm pale ale.
One wag on Twitter remarked that it was as if a tech billionaire had organised the world’s largest ice bucket challenge. But elsewhere, tempers were fraying: “As I watched our $125,000 Dr Who themed TARDIS camp sink, I started to think that papier mâché wasn’t the wisest choice in building material,” admitted Hans Lübbeck, an angel investor from Berlin.
So far the damage has been restricted to clapped-out RVs and electric vehicles: 1,200 Toyota Priuses instantly short circuited when the rain began on Monday night. But as night drew on in Black Rock yesterday, drone imagery showed a giant neon body paint slick headed for Reno itself. Observers noted that Reno’s state troopers may finally find a use for their aquatic military vehicles.
“Wouldn’t it be just awful if Elon Musk were to lose a $4.5 million RV, or, worse, someone’s private jet were to get stranded in the mud,” wondered Katy-Louise Harris, the founder of a Shoreditch digital agency, who has travelled from London to take ecstasy and dance to electro in the desert.
“And just think of all that cocaine lost under churning mud,” she noted. “Something must be done. This time last year I was off my tits, looking at flaccid cocks hanging out of vintage TechCrunch Disrupt t-shirts.”
Harris, 32, added: “This couldn’t have happened to a nicer bunch of people. Really, honestly, we’re lovely and not at all annoying, spoilt brats everyone laughs at. I mean, I know people say we live like Saudi princes with tent villages full of staff, like oil barons or hedge fund bastards, but what do you expect? We’re changing the world!”
High-end travel insurers based in the Valley reported a 320 per cent increase in claims for damaged life-blogging hardware, including Pebbles and Fitbits. But, in the end, it was the embarrassment of middle-aged professionals, cavorting around like teenagers, that stuck in the minds of reporters on the scene.
“Without all the body paint and dune goggles,” confessed one portly ticket-holder, “I’m starting to recognise people from my law firm. Which sucks!”