Tuesday, March 8, 2011

How To: Go to a Festival by Yourself

How to Get Bacon at Burning Man
image by theorignallimey: doesn't really apply, but it's about bacon, right?
No real idea what I was doing, where I was going or what was supposed to be happening, I walked through the muggy gardens, vaguely following the lively group of teens in front of me. Not too close, I didn’t want them to notice, but not too far in case they took some turn and I lost them, I trotted along behind in hope that they knew where the entry gate would break what seemed like kilometres of high fencing. The map in my bag would probably have shown me the way, but I wasn’t about to destroy all my ‘cool cred’ by pulling it out. I could hear a band playing, loud with heavy drums and bass, was I missing out on something already? Wait, where was that map?

Of course when I finally came across the main gate there was what could only be described as a resolutely minute crowd waiting, being over an hour early obviously not fashionable festival goer etiquette. The demountable which was the ticket booth confused me, was I ticket pick-up or special pass pick up? Taking a leap of faith I headed to the ‘general enquiries’ hole and piped up. “I have a media pass to pick up?” I phrased it as a question, like I wasn’t really sure I did have, just in case I’d made some terrible mistake. “Oh honey,” she answered through the wire mesh, “you’ve gotta go all the way round the other side for that.”

For the past year I’ve been lucky enough to have a volunteer gig as a reviewer for online music magazine Life Music Media. In January I reviewed Brisbane music festival Sunset Sounds. For normal gigs as a reviewer you get a plus one with your ticket, meaning you suddenly become very, very popular. At festivals, however, it’s just you flying solo.

Admittedly I started off the two day event feeling much more nervous than I was comfortable with. It also happened that Sunset Sounds was to be my first ever actual music festival experience, and with my first encounter with the festival involving my becoming befuddled with the ticket collection system, I felt out of my depth. I had the vague feeling that I might not be ‘doing it right’, and that everyone else knew what to do but me.

But eventually I found it’s easy to feel at ease when you realise you’re in a crowd of thousands and not one of them is wasting their time bothering to notice you, and I ended up having a brilliant time. I now tout ‘going it alone’ to festivals as the only option for me, and feel like I’ve conquered some great rite of passage.
And so, for those who are considering perhaps hitting a festival alone, or even for those going in a group, here are my tips for “Going to a Festival Alone”:

*Firstly, there is no ‘right’ way to do a festival, so stop worrying about what it is you’re doing, not doing or meant to be doing and just enjoy the moment. (There is, though, a wrong way, or many, to do a festival. These include; wearing a giant sombrero and standing up the front so that nobody else can see, vomiting on a hill when others are standing further down, throwing hard things, for fun or for malice. )

*Secondly, wear comfortable clothing – not knowing anybody gives you the freedom to not fuss about having the perfect festival look. I mean sure, look nice, but leave your brand name gear at home. Instead get out your wellies, your rain poncho and your oldest jeans, because if the weather is anything but sun then it’s going to be a grubby day.

*Be short – Honestly I’m not sure what I would have done at Sunset Sounds if I wasn’t so damn short. Being short and alone at a festival is like being Moses at an ocean. I witnessed crowds miraculously part before me as people whispered softly to their neighbours, “Hey, move over here a bit. There’s this one really short girl standing behind you.” The important word in this sentence? One. The crowds don’t part to let through a whole gaggle of short girls, oh no, they stay tightly packed and squash them forever near the back where they can be loud and giggly together. But alone, alone you are short and you are invincible. (Obviously if you’re naturally six foot tall this directive will be hard for you to achieve, but at six foot tall you can already see everything so it matters not).

*Learn how to dance alone – News Flash to all my fellow music enthusiasts, live music is for DANCING. If you don’t move then you lose, people, and being alone is no excuse not to jig. Dancing alone is not an activity that should be limited to the bedroom; solo jiving in public does marvellous things for self-confidence. Now is the perfect opportunity to try it out.

*Take a photo of yourself – By not attending with a group of friends you are less likely to wind up with a hundred photos to slam up on facebook, showing you slightly drunk, muddy and nowhere near a band. Which is probably not a bad thing. But you should try and take at least one photo of yourself there, or get someone else to. Going to a festival by yourself is a bit of a challenge and you’ve succeeded. You’ll want to remember this day, so make sure you have the proof!

*Have fun – Remember why you’re here in the first place; awesome bands, awesome atmosphere. None of that changes when you’re by yourself unless you let it, so figure out which bands you most want to see and get in there and rock it.

(For anyone interested, you can read the reviews of Sunset Sounds here and here).

1 comment:

  1. Sounds great Lauren...maybe I'll give it a try.


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