From Burning Man To Main Street USA - An Introduction to The Modern Tribal Movement

From Burning Man To Main Street USA - An Introduction to The Modern Tribal Movement

The modern tribal movement has been gaining momentum in recent years, with its roots tracing back to the Burning Man festival. This movement has been embraced by a growing number of people, from all walks of life, who seek to come together in a spirit of community and collaboration. In this article, we'll explore the history and purpose of the modern tribal movement, and how it is finding its way into mainstream culture.

Modern-day life is difficult. Between traffic, tech, family, work, friends, hobbies, and chores, it seems that we're all being pulled in every direction at once. There's a movement, though, that has evolved from the love children and hippies of the 60's and 70's and has proved to be a haven- whether it's a lifestyle, or just for a weekend.


Tribal Inspired Makeup


Neotribalism- the modern tribal- is a movement that has its roots in the Woodstock generation. Eschewing many of the trappings of urban life, these people try to live life a little more simply and a lot less technologically tethered. For the most extreme, this means communal living and an almost off-the grid lifestyle. For some, though, that just isn't an option. For those, there are festivals and gatherings that convey that community, that connection to each other, our communal, more primitive roots, and the earth- and the largest of these is Burning Man.
Burning Man, seen from above at night

Burning Man as seen from above at night

What began as a small gathering in San Francisco in 1986 has turned into a trippy trek into the Black Rock desert in Nevada. It is a week-long festival that celebrates art, people, music, and connection to each other, and it culminates with the burning of a 40-foot tall effigy in an act of artistic expressionism. Scattered throughout the grounds and being put on by the participants, art happens. Spectators often become artists, as many projects actually take shape as the week progresses with input from many people. Huge installation pieces down to humble paintings, expression is the main focus of the event that draws upwards of 50,000 people from around the world.
A woman wearing Modern Tribal clothing at Burning Man
One aspect nearly everyone who goes to Burning Man is involved with is expression through their outfits. Since the event takes place in the desert, there is a decidedly Mad Max vibe to everything- both in the name of keeping cool as well as the fact that everything soon becomes covered with dust. The overall impression is a post-apocalyptic tribe of survivors, but one that has managed to find meaning in expression.
So what is the norm at an event such as this? Well, there is no norm. Commonly seen, though, are dreadlocks, goggles (invaluable for keeping sand and dust out of your eyes), loincloths, kilts, and flowy, nomadic-style clothing. Jewelry is as varied as the outfits, but tends involve layering multiple necklaces, stacking bracelets, or choosing bold, statement rings. Many of these pieces display archaic Celtic or Middle Eastern themes.
Bellydancers continue the trend of Modern Tribal fashion
Outside of events, though, modern tribalism is still a fashion influence. The resurgence of burlesque lately has also seen an emergence in tribal dancing, and belly dancing in particular. Troupes of bellydancers are de rigeur at just about any alternative lifestyle convention, and actually have conventions of their own now. Participants often immerse themselves in the aesthetic of the Indian country, with elaborate costumes and props. This new facet is adding another chapter and an additional stylistic twist to the modern tribe.
Burning Man Neotribal Fashion
While much of the participation listed herein isn't neotribalism in the strictest sense, the style it influences is definitely becoming a more influential force in the fashion world. Tribal patterns and themes are becoming popular in boutiques, manifesting in batik patterns on leggings and geometric patterns on tanks. It seems that even the bohemian style is blurring a little with those tribal influences, further spreading the style of the modern tribe if not necessarily the ideology.

Have you ever tried going Tribal? Tell us in the comments below!


About the Author

Emily Grace