This summer, I lost my festival virginity. Similar to your first time having sex, I went a little over prepared. However, no amount of overpacked suitcases and bum bags could have prepared me for what I was in for. There were jaws being collected in lost and found, acid trips sending first timers into a black hole of oblivion and people wondering why the fuck they brought pills instead of sun cream.
I can't say I didn't have fun because I would put that weekend down as one of the best weekends of my life. It was like being abducted, taken away from this shite reality and placed somewhere where everyone loved each other. And yeah, maybe it was the effects of the gram of MDMA they ingested that day but nonetheless, everyone was in high spirits. It was a place where come downs didn't exist, where the first thing you did in the morning was open another can instead of going for that piss you held in all night and you were more concerned about losing your bottle of water than your phone.
I learned the hard way about sharing a tent with someone. Sleeping in a designated spot where your clothes took on the shape of an actual person became a whole new meaning. Freezing your tits off became almost literal when I can nearly recall waking up with actual icicles on my nipples. But the Titanic-like coldness was short-lived when I was woken up by a salty taste in my mouth, and no it wasn't some dudes ejaculate, it was sweat dripping off my forehead. No matter where I parked my tent, I was the victim of a beaming sun melting off last nights makeup.
The night time is where everything turned weird. People weren't even trying to disguise the fact that they were doing drugs. The security ignored the sights of people's eyes rolling back into their head. The paramedic crew were up to their elbows in vomit brought on by trippy psychedelics such as 2cb and acid. Ashamed but also willing to admit that I was one of those morons tripping balls. I was so scared that this was how it was all going to end. That my mother would have to see my picture splashed all over Facebook because I was stupid enough to die from taking acid. I even recall one paramedic telling me that acid remains in your spinal fluid for the rest of your life. "You could be driving your kids to school in a few years and BAM, you start tripping, crashing your car and killing yourself along with your kids. How does that make you feel?" At this point the stamp was fully used up so his threats fell on deaf ears. All I wanted was the packaged bottles of water that teased me from across the room.
After I had puked up the days food, I was good to go. I threw myself into the crowd and submerged myself into the trance music. Music is fucking great when you're sky high, but with a drug like acid, it's hard to appreciate the thoughts you have while tripping, so I decided to isolate myself from the sweaty guys grinding up against me. I wanted to take it all in. I wanted something to share with people when they asked me in awe of what it was like and fuck, did I acquire some stories. Acid is one of those drugs where you're literally playing Russian roulette. You can't predict how it's going to go or what your experience will be like. It's called a trip because that's exactly what it is. You take a stroll down hallucinary lane and Bob's your uncle.
Everyone was in the same boat. God love us if the world decided to end at that moment because no one was in their right state of mind. And weirdly enough, that was the beauty of it. You didn't have any environmental activist telling you that drugs are bad or shaming you for wanting to have a bit more sugar in your bowl. When are you ever going to be in a situation where you can walk up to a total group of strangers and start a conversation with them as if you knew them your whole life? Shit you could go to this festival by yourself and you'd come home with life long friends. But experimenting with drugs was just one part of the festival. There was the weird groups of people I found myself intertwined with. People who I'd probably tell to fuck off if they approached me in a nightclub. There was the Forrest raves that continued on until 6 in the morning, the watered down beer, the scabby plate of chips that you needed to take a mortgage out just to buy and having to endure people having sex in the tent next to yours. I mean, that can't be comfortable can it?
Some of you may be reading this and thinking to yourself how cliché it all is. A girl sees some electronic music at a festival and thinks it changed her life – big deal. But that’s exactly what it is. It’s a very big deal. Life is beautiful and exhausting. Whether you’re going to classes every day, working your job, raising your children, or helping your parents at home, you’ve probably got enough weighing you down. That doesn’t even include personal relationships. There are always plenty of those to spur some undesired conflict. Sometimes life can get you down. Music festivals are the most amazing way to escape the stress and those annoying expectations. You can call it escapism if you’d like, but there’s nothing better than feeling free for a few days. Well, I’m here to remind people that the point of a music festival is to escape the mundane rules and expectations of society. For that one musical weekend, you’re in an entirely new society – one without judgments. Festivals are meant to be liberating, to lower people’s inhibitions, and create an atmosphere of love and acceptance.
These events aren’t about crazy electronic music and drugs. Don’t get me wrong – those things definitely exist. Drugs can become a huge part of the experience. Some of the music can be obnoxious. But the beauty of these events is the variety. I’ve not only seen electronic artists. I’ve seen rap artists, heavy rock, indie, etc. And not everybody is drugged up to have a good time. The unity that exists when great music collides with welcoming people is something I never want to give up. To be carefree in an environment that will accept me is a truly freeing experience. You can’t share any of these special moments in your classes or at your 9-5. That is my truth.
Video: Hannah Witton - Top 10 Festival tips