Arts and Culture
10:12 am
Tue August 26, 2014

Morris Burner Hotel brings Black Rock experience to Reno

Morris Burner Hotel hosted Monster and Elves Block Party.
Morris Burner Hotel hosted Monster and Elves Block Party.
Credit Photo by Decibel Photography from Morris Burner Hotel Facebook.

This is the first year some festival-goers can head to the Morris Burner Hotel in downtown Reno after leaving the playa to continue their Black Rock experience.

Jim Gibson, retired CEO of a micro-chip company also known by his Burner name, “Jungle Jim” bought the old, run-down hotel last year. Gibson says he has managed to revamp it by applying some of the Burning Man principles like communal effort, civic responsibility, participation and self-expression.

“I think what this is intended to be and what’s it’s going to wind up being is a nexus, a physical center, where the Burning Man vibe and the Burning Man people can come together.”

Gibson says the week-long event lasts just a short-time, so what the facility offers is a space for people to continue the Burning Man culture year-round. Just like the festival itself, the hotel features artwork and entertainment. It also aims to invite everyone in the neighborhood, including people from nearby homeless shelters and soup kitchens.

“So we're surrounded by the homeless community, which is for us just fine," Gibson says. "We get along with them really well, we help each other, and we’ve got one of the guys in here right now, who just came from the shelter. He’s in there helping us plaster some walls and he’s going to have dinner with us.”

Through donations and the help of volunteer Burners, Gibson says the community has organized coat drives and provided free haircuts to those in need.

Recently, the City of Reno granted the property legal status as a private club rather than a public hotel. Gibson is in the process of finalizing a membership plan that will feature a sliding scale for people who want to stay there, which will be based on their past contributions to the Burning Man community.

About 68 thousand people are expected to attend the event this year.