The Mayan Warrior team is rising from the ashes of its destroyed art car, announcing Thursday (Oct. 19), that they’re building a new car to debut at Burning Man 2024.
This vehicle will have a new design and theme from the original Mayan Warrior (pictured above), and be roughly the same size as this previous model, but reconfigured to function more as a mobile stage for live, multi-disciplinary musical and cultural performances.
“We will slowly transition into a more diverse spectrum of musical and cultural performances,” Mayan Warrior founder Pablo González Vargas tells Billboard. “The goal over time is to have more live acts with real instruments that can provide new experiences.” The new car will host gradually fewer DJs and feature a stage large enough to accommodate bands or a small orchestra.
“This will be an ongoing process of learning and iterating what is best for the community and the culture of Burning Man,” says González Vargas. “We will always be open to suggestions and feedback to make something beautiful that we can all enjoy.”
The original Mayan Warrior art car, one of Burning Man’s biggest and flashiest art cars which hosted sets from artists including DJ Tennis, Damian Lazarus and more, was destroyed in a fire last April while en route to a fundraiser in Punta de Mita, Mexico. This fire resulted in millions of dollars worth of losses.
It also provided the Mexico City-based team the opportunity to reimagine their project, with González Vargas telling Billboard in August that the car’s destruction made him feel “liberated” from a physically and financially-intensive endeavor that over time had grown to be a magnet for melodic techno and massive crowds.
Beyond the evolution in programming, the new project will also mark a shift in how the Mayan Warrior crew raises the money necessary to bring the car to Burning Man, located in northern Nevada’s remote Black Rock Desert.
The number of annual fundraising events the team produces across the U.S. with this new car will shrink from 12 to four, ” to ensure we can put our soul in to it and focus on the health and sleep of our crew,” says González Vargas. (Many Burning Man art cars and camps hold annual fundraisers to raise the money necessary to do a project at the event, with Mayan Warrior’s among the last few years arguably among the largest and most highly produced.)
The group is also considering making information regarding events, camp and foundation finances public, “so everyone can see what’s going on and what it takes to pull this off,” says González Vargas.
Tal Ohana and his Los Angeles-based events company Stranger Than, which has co-produced Mayan Warrior’s North American fundraising events for the last six years, are also now official Mayan Warrior collaborators.
“We’re glad to be a part of the next art car and assist with our resources throughout the rebuilding process,” Ohana tells Billboard. “Stranger Than and I will also continue to implement the values of Burning Man to our ‘outside fundraiser events’ as an eight-year burner, while curating unique experiences for our community in a safe environment.”
The first fundraising events officially for this new car are happening Oct. 28 at Grand Park in Los Angeles and at on Oct. 27-28 at Industry City in Brooklyn.
In August, González Vargas told Billboard that before he and the team could decide on a new design, he first needed to go to Burning Man 2023 to see what inspired him. That inspiration came, he says, when watching a drone show that was designed around a Burning Man art car with a dancer suspended from a crane, all synchronized with light and music.
“It struck me that there is nothing more beautiful than having projects collaborate in the moment to create something that will never exist again,” he says. now. “And at that moment, I decided to continue the project and be part of those special moments. We want to do as many collaborations in the future with this new vehicle.”
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