Did you try to go see Rüfüs Du Sol or Kerala Dust at "Dusty Throwdown" at 8:15 & B on Tuesday night/Wednesday early am, only to discover that you couldn't find the show or the camp? Perhaps you came to the same area to see Alison Wonderland early Thursday am?
You can blame me (Dr. Yes) for that. I could tell you I'm sorry, but do you really want me to lie to you? Watching thousands of burners fall for my prank was the absolute peak of my Burning Man experience this year! Why'd I do it? I'll explain at the end of the post.
This is what the view from 8:15 & B normally looks like at night:
Here's what it looked like somewhere near 1 am early Wed morning, when Rufus was scheduled to perform.
For those who don't know what I'm referring to, I submitted a fake camp called Dusty Throwdown and a fake lineup for it to the Rockstar Librarian, who publishes a partial guide to who is playing where and when at Burning Man each year. Camps/art cars submit their lineups, and she puts together the guide, to be released around Tuesday before the gates open each year. 8:15 & B was my camp's (Friendgasm) address this year, and as we were having an event that night I thought it'd be fun to have some foot traffic on the the street, which is normally pretty sleepy at night.
I was worried that the Librarian (she has a real name, obviously, but I'll use her pseudonym here) would catch me if I was too lazy about the prank, but I also knew that she's quite busy in the runup to BM, so vetting listings is not her priority. I made sure that none of the big draws - Kerala Dust, Rüfüs Du Sol, or Alison Wonderland - had conflicting tour dates, and really only included the Thursday lineup with Alison because I felt like it wasn't believable to have a camp Rüfüs would play at only have one night of music. It was already seriously straining credibility that an act the size of Rüfüs du Sol would be at a camp at 8:15 & B, and I thought that alone would give it away to many people, but hope springs eternal!
When an early version of the Rockstar Librarian (RSL) leaked, and it not only had my fake lineup in it but also a star next to it indicating the Librarian called it out as a recommended event, I was pretty confident this was going to work. Seeing my campmates react to the listing confirmed that:
I knew my campmates were largely big Rüfüs fans, but I had no idea at least a couple of them were very into Kerala Dust, and were especially excited because apparently Kerala Dust has never performed in the US before.
Unfortunately, their love of Kerala Dust ended up revealing the joke to them when the group got word that they were 'scheduled' to perform at Burning Man, and posted on social that it was fake.
And really, that was ok, because my campmates were always going to figure it out once we got to playa and they realized there's no Dusty Throwdown in the neighborhood. That plus the straining you have to do to believe that an act the size of Rüfüs would be playing at 8:15 & B would give it away to them.
In the meantime though, I got to enjoy seeing comments like the below:
All day Tuesday people were stopping at our camp to ask where Dusty Throwdown was, and campmates were reporting they were hearing talk of the supposed Rüfüs show all around the playa, but it really picked up once it got dark. Quite a few people were looking for Kerala Dust (who were supposed to play 9pm-11pm), and we knew the crowd would be much larger for Rüfüs.
I had scheduled some random DJ I'm unfamiliar with called Persephone at 11 pm, during which we had a bit of a break and things emptied out temporarily, but by about 12:30 am the street was so packed that we killed our plan to blast Rüfüs' music at 'showtime,' for fear of starting a stampede. We probably didn't really need to worry given that we can all guess what substances many of them were on, and alcohol wasn't one of them, but we didn't want to risk it.
Everyone in our camp, and in a couple of the neighboring camps I'd let in on the joke earlier that day, thoroughly enjoyed the people watching as well as interacting with the crowd pretending we were just excited to have Rüfüs playing in our neighborhood and wondering where they might be, although strangely almost nobody was interested in coming into our bar to enjoy a nice, fancy hand-crafted cocktail. It's almost like they were preoccupied with something else that wasn't happening and weren't in the moment....
The crowd eventually dissipated on its own, leaving a remarkable lack of moop behind, though some die-hards hung on until at least an hour and a half after Rüfüs' scheduled 'showtime,' really hoping beyond hope that maybe the Aussie trio was just on playa time or something (although again, there was no camp in our neighborhood that looked even remotely capable of hosting Rüfüs). We did get some people inquiring about Alison Wonderland two days later, but she's not nearly as popular with burners as Rüfüs, and no doubt word had gotten around about Dusty Throwdown being fake by then as well.
Why I Did It
I could tell you I did it to "teach a lesson" to DJ chasers or something, but no, that's not why I did it. If you want to go listen to DJs every night at Burning Man, you do you.
I could tell you I did it to demonstrate the value of immediacy, but that'd be pretentious bullshit.
I did it because pranks, shenanigans, and fuckery that don't hurt anyone are some of my favorite parts about Burning Man, and I saw an opportunity to create a prank that a lot of people could be part of, if unknowingly in the moment. And lest you forget, Burning Man was founded out of the Cacophony Society.
As a campmate phrased it, "You saw a chain, and you yanked it." That's true, but I yanked that particular chain because it was one connected to a lot of people and one I could pull on without anyone getting harmed. I wanted to create a prank that was harmless enough that the people who were the 'victims' of it could easily remember it fondly in the future and smile, even if a bit ruefully, at the memory. I've heard a couple upset people say their 'time was wasted' but I can only laugh at the absurdity of that complaint at Burning Man.
Ultimately, if you fell for the prank and are still reading, I hope you're chuckling along with me. Most of us weren't there when Daft Punk didn't play, but you were there when Rüfüs didn't play! You were right there listening to them not play! Years from now, you'll be able to regale new burners with the tale of the epic night that you didn't see Rüfüs du Sol play and they will only be able to widen their eyes and gasp a little as you suddenly become 3x as sexually attractive to them.
No matter how many times any of us see Rüfüs du Sol play in the future, we'll all always have that one magical night together that we were Rüfüs-less. No Rüfüs at all. Not a Rüfüs in sight, even when that RV slowly rolled past and everyone cheered thinking that might be them.
It was glorious, and you were there.
P.S. Ms. Librarian - I feel silly calling you that as I know your real name perfectly well, but I just wanted to apologize for using your publication for the prank. It was nothing personal at all, and I know you put a ton of work and time into it, which I and many burners appreciate.
I'm Dr. Yes. I run this site, lead a theme camp called Friendgasm, and make Burning Man videos. Just say yes, folks, and help keep Burning Man weird!