absence of creative dress may signify a spectator-mode approach.
You need to be careful there. Yes, there are some people there dressed ordinarily who are just spectators, but most of the more serious artists I know at Burning Man tend to be quite plain in their playa appearance. Simply, if you are putting a lot of work into your playa art, or other tasks, you don't have much time to focus on a cool costume.
In fact, it might be more likely to say (though again not universally true) that if you see somebody in outrageous playa wear, they are more likely to be a spectator who just comes to party, if a better level of spectator.
(And yes, I know that felt insulting to those who do come in cool costumes are not not spectators, just as the quoted statement felt that way.)
I agree with your point here. and the post you made prior to this one.
the playa has built in filters. i.e. the heat and maximal conditions aren't for many, and some people would rather stay home to avoid the desert heat. and i have had many people scoff at me when i try to explain what "camping in the desert" is like.
in a way i support the increase in price for the event, as it filters out the people less determined to go. the BM experience is priceless to me. i bought the 3rd tear tickest this year at $280 and i would pay double that.
for my first burn i made getting ready into a part time job. we showed up and had some freinds over who were on thier 7th burn. they asked "how many times have you guys been?" we respond, "this is our first year". 7 year burner says, "you guys are more prepared than i have ever been..."
some people take things more seriously than others, I enjoy hard work... ENJOY... if BM had filters to keep new comers like me out, i never would have been able to come in the first place.
that was just my first year. now i know how to build a shade structure from scratch. and this year i have already planned on building upon my inadequacies from last time...
my bike had little to no lighting last time... as i spent hundreds of hours on research and designing a shade structure and resources to facilitate for our camp and surplus to gift.
i spent all available sources i had to make the perfect experience in my own eyes on the first year. but only after i have that experience under my belt, can i expand in another direction.
costume, in my opinion is over rated. I greatly appreciate other's excentricites and efforts. but it's not me.
i went to mexico on my honey moon, and there was a small group of kids in thier early 20's. they were some goth/punk kids. looking cool to them was significantly more important than being comfortable. i dont belive i ever saw them leave the resort because they were so hot and misserable. they chose to look cool over being comfortable.
to me, comfort is a big issue. i dont have the time and money to explore my options on finding a happy medium. maybe in a few years i will have that luxery. but my camp has room to grow and expand. i choose to expand in my own way. and i choose to express myself in my own way.