This Is Burning Man

A 1997 "Nightline" report looks at the annual event held in Nevada's Black Rock Desert.
6:23 | 08/21/14

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Transcript for This Is Burning Man
Idea of a spontaneous city does -- -- what but that's exactly what turned up in the Nevada desert over the Labor Day weekend a city with a curious name. Of burning man. Whatever you want to call -- city or festival or community or -- it's been going on over a decade and for most of that time. Word of each year's location has been quietly passed on the Internet. In fact some people believe burning man is -- physical manifestation of the Internet a kaleidoscope -- no holds barred cultural experiment. And just as the Internet is interactive so is burning man. The idea is that there are no spectators. In fact the press -- they hand -- say simply this pass entitles you. To nothing in particular. Have a beautiful experience of your own. Which is what everyone else is out to do thousands of people doing the strangest things and getting along and that in itself. Is cause for celebration. So we thought you might like to see up close what some people have called a proto apocalyptic. Hippie neo pagan Greek fest. Tom Foreman traveled there to see for himself. Two hours north of Reno in the vast emptiness of the black rock desert town he's rising. The streets and made some neighborhoods and police. And thousands of residents yearning to burn the -- Okay. Okay. Burning. A loosely organized frenetic explosion. Community creativity and today -- For twelve years this five day alternative arts festival has been steadily growing. Now drawing somewhere between eight and 151000. People each summer. People who come from all over the world -- world of reasons. Really -- really reserved. Had trouble meeting people but I came out here and -- an open atmosphere. I could really be myself this is just a wonderful celebration of creativity. It sounded like it was do you laughed cool thing to do -- a weekend away from. Ordinary -- Traditionally this non traditional weekend starts on the Wednesday before Labor Day there have been very very important. The location so remote that everyone who comes must bring camping equipment food water. And of course their own ideas about march break interpreted -- -- -- -- -- -- This year Michael and his friends came from San Francisco with a planned to collect bones from the desert floor. And use them to construct an archway for him it is art for art's sake -- -- I would say that. But haven't. Four others there is deeper meaning balanced but structural in my head and I'm. What you need trafficking. And I won't. At -- heart burning man has always been primarily about the art of building a community. In which people can be expressive. Free and no one knows that better than Larry Harvey a dozen years ago he built a wooden man on a California beach and set it ablaze a crowd gathered. And burning man was born. But we creative ways was was an intra community. And -- we were tremendously moved did you see the possibilities of it right then. I what I saw -- that is that we had to do it again. -- -- -- -- -- -- Today the man stands or stories tall he has directed at that started each festival and quietly watches the community around him grow. And grow it does. Camps are set up with themes that range from guys who like -- to -- -- -- Well whatever this is. The point is people can do or beaten or where or not Wear what ever they line you're walking in -- -- hasn't got a little Green Zone. -- did you get this morning as a unit today. -- green but -- so if you want to take the world's largest nude photographs. Go right ahead. I got thank you out. If you want to go out to the Hot Springs paddle around and then pack yourself reminded. -- will look twice. Don't know we're told you don't have to if you want -- and -- it's whatever you want. That -- should be no remake the higher they bring them. That we create just sent out orders so that -- spontaneous. Naturally we occurring are physical culture which is border of the interaction of people that know -- -- player and then knowing control. -- -- Will begin to happen. The one thing that he is absolutely forbidden is almost all commercial trade. There are no burning man T shirts no bumper stickers no buttons there is virtually nothing for sale. Who has the most basic tenant of burning man that life is not about watching or buying -- is about. Participate. -- -- -- -- -- -- But there's something wrong with activity there's something wrong with vicarious. There's something wrong -- wrong with the nation whose whose life is led. You can -- -- before you forgive me television. So when the sun goes down on burning man each evening when people are their own show. Lighting the streets reading in fantastic costumes and of course sitting lots and lots of fines. Yeah. This straight here is always safe bet. I know a certain -- have been some but maybe not a statement that it. Okay. And by the end of the first two days the feeling is running deep. Peace happiness and joy have descended on this improbable garden that he.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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