Burning Man’s mantra of radical self-expressionism may find several takers today, but in the 90’s, the festival was a lot more underground and exclusive. 

As it  is with most phenomena in general, the more something gets popular, the more mainstream it is bound to get. While Burning Man features on pretty much everyone’s wish list, back in last decade of the last century, the festival rated genuinely high on the radical meter. People who visited it were far fewer in number, and because of the lack of extreme media attention as the festival warrants today, they could be a lot more liberated in expression.

The Reno-Gazette Journal has a collection of some erstwhile Burning Man galleries. We roundup some of the most enduring pictorial proofs from the century gone by, and collectively get nostalgic over the festival’s reclusive nature.

Allow us to say it now, we totally dig Burning Man’s 90’s privileged status!

Love has always found representation at The Playa, with marriages, relationships and families, blooming up in full measure. Even today, the festival operates on the basic notion of genuine human emotion and generosity. Like this couple in 1997, fostering a forever in true Burning Man style, distinctive outfits and all at the Hualapai Playa.

AP file photo 1997 Hualapai Playa(Credit: AP)

Or this couple, shielding themselves from the desert dust, from Burning Man 1999.  –

AP 1999(Credit: AP)

Burning Man has always been an association for radical art expressions, and for artists, creating projects that are not run of the mill, to exhibit their work. The 90’s saw some interesting, albeit amusing, art too.

Like this horsemobile structure from The Playa, 1999. Should Batmobile be worrying?

Horsemobile structure 1999(Credit: RGJ)

Or this creepy skeletal installation from the 1996 edition!

David B. Parker 1996(Credit: David B. Parker | RGJ)

While you look at the skeletons, we’re totally taken in by this fiery woman playing mistress to a built up alien in 1997!

Alien and its mistress(Credit: RGJ)

Or this colourful, artsy ode to the wind, that this couple is zooming past by, from Burning Man ’98!

1998 couple creative piece(Credit: RGJ)

But Burning Man ain’t no Burning Man, without the grand statue that is burned to commemorate the end of the festival!

Like this statue, laid to rest, before raised to celebrate the beginning from

David Hunter Associated Press file(Credit: David Hunter | AP)

And this image of a man bringing his jazziest best to the front of the Burning Man statue, in the festival’s 1997 edition.

1997 AP(Credit: AP)

But the biggest draw of Burning Man continues to be people who come there to assimilate themselves into The Playa’s community culture and spirit.

Like the people gathered under the ‘One Tree’ to coll off under the tree’s water sprinklers!

1998 water sprouting 'One Tree'(Credit: RGJ)

Or this man, in 1999, channeling his inner space-traveler.

bilde(Credit: RGJ)

Truly, Burning Man in the 90’s was all about idyllic self expression. As this man from 1997, would say.

RGJ AP(Credit: RGJ)

But the Burn’s central identity is the incineration of the central Burning Man statue, that has remained a constant in spite, and despite, how different or popular the festival gets.

Be it 1997 –

1997(Credit: RGJ)

Or 1998, the sense of fulfillment and spirituality brought about by this ritual, never really changes!

1998 RGJ(Credit: RGJ)

Stay liberated and free, Burning Man!

1998 RGJ 2(Credit: RGJ)