It represented a departure from modern society, and for this reason it became very popular among counter-culture individuals. The event welcomed anyone who wanted the experience. There was no specifications that participants needed to be part of a specific group to attend. Anyone who had the means to go, was able to go. Though they didn't turn people away, Burning Man was designed only for those to have a profound and enlightening experience. But those arent the only people that go to Burning Man now. Now the event is for anyone with $390 in their bank account. College students, trust fund kids, anyone and everyone can attend Burning Man. And they do. In the beginning years when Burning Man was indeed about discovering your true inner nature, it didn't have the national recognition it does today. I, myself, heard of Burning Man now as jokes on TV shows and movies. The way TV shows explained a certain character was a real "free spirit" was by saying they went to Burning Man. By "free spirit" the shows mostly mean the character is adventurous in terms of experimenting with drugs and orgys. Burning Man has turned into a giant drug filled orgy in the desert in the eyes of the public now. There was a Funny or Die article entitled "13 Things to know about this year's Burning Man festival." These were the entries:
While I'm sure some people still go for the original purpose, now Burning Man just seems like an excuse for anyone to do whatever they want for a week. It's lost its meaning as it has grown in popularity.
As the festival has grown in popularity, it has also disregarded one of its 10 main principles- decommodificatiom. It claims that commercial actions exploit their culture and that impedes the whole purpose of the festival. But in becoming so popular, Burning Man has commodified itself. How can an event that charges $390 for one ticket not be considered a commodity? It can be bought and sold just like any other commercial item. The irony is that Burning Man has grown to be what they originally set out to avoid.