With festival season right around the corner, and first-timers already aware of the mandatory bare necessities that they need to bring with them to the main event (i.e., driver’s license, ticket, money for tiny overpriced bottles of water), I give you 11 1/2 real-world festival tips that should serve as your bible while roughing it in the trenches of EDM. So let’s explore the underbelly of the average festival enthusiast’s needs – things you either didn’t know, never thought about, or were too ashamed to discuss with your older sister.
1. DON’T DRINK THE WATER BY THE RESTROOM FACILITIES.
Why? Water in quickie restroom settings is often not entirely suitable for human consumption because it’s solely earmarked for half-assed hand washing (in conjunction with an empty or broken soap dispenser). Especially if the promoter went out of his way to provide free filtered water in an attempt to avoid the usual dehydration lawsuits and emergency room visits, please don’t drink restroom water. Get your face and bottle out of that filthy sink. The port-a-potty on a humid summer day is the last place you want to party with Montezuma.
2. EXERCISE PROPER URINATION TECHNIQUE.
When you’re at a festival for an extended period of time, using a port-a-potty is inevitable. You’ve been inside one of those things before. Pee is EVERYWHERE. You WILL get pee on your shoes or fluffies. This is an unavoidable festival fact. And yes, it’s not even your own pee. It’s not even only one stranger’s pee. Hell, it’s actually way more than just pee (oh the horror)!
Ladies: Enter the port-a-potty. Close and lock the door. Hold onto the door handle with one or two hands while leaning back slightly in a seated position, WITHOUT making contact with the DNA-encrusted surface of the toilet seat just inches from your derrière. Hang from the door handle as long as you need to. Voilà! It’s actually pretty comfortable. Guys: I have no tip for you. The plastic urinal is right there on the side of the wall and you opt instead to pee everywhere else besides that one area that’s designated strictly for penis. I’m in the port-a-crapper hanging from the door while balancing my iPhone and petticoat layers because of your lazy ill-directed jet stream. If you ignore what I said above and drink from a makeshift faucet, you will probably find yourself on a soaking wet toilet for an extended period of time while battling Montezuma. It’s called Karma.
3. WEAR CHEAP, COMFORTABLE (DISPOSABLE) SHOES.
When you finally limp back to your car after the festival, throw those filthy shoes out! Hurl them across the parking lot. Burn them. Do what you need to do just don’t bring them home with you. I understand that you want to show off your new Nike Air Max 93s but a festival is neither the time nor place. Nobody is looking at your feet, especially during any festival taking place at night when no one can even see your feet. Never wear your “good” shoes to a festival.
If you can’t abide by this rule for some odd reason probably rooted in vanity, spray your $300 Nikes with Lysol and thoroughly wipe them down before you even think about stepping foot inside the house. Your mom doesn’t need you tracking festival strange across her new carpet.
4. IF YOU CAN’T PART WITH IT, DON’T BRING IT.
So your expensive LED gloves finally shipped from raveready after four months and two angry emails. Good for you! But are they allowed through the gates? If you’re not okay with security throwing your new LED gloves in the garbage 45 minutes after you first put them on, make sure they’re not on the festival’s list of prohibited items. Things like gloves, glow sticks, laser pointers, lipstick, and Blow Pops are commonly forbidden at numerous EDM events of varying sizes. Even kandi is at risk of confiscation these days (oh, the humanity)! When in doubt, LEAVE IT HOME.
If the rules on the official website say no plush backpacks, leave Super Mario at home. Yes you will see more than one person in the trenches shuffling with Yoshi and wonder how they got through such heavy security with a pillow strapped to their back, but the fact remains that there’s no way security would have let YOU in like that. Side note: if a certain security guard tells you on day one or two of the festival that a forbidden item is actually allowed, don’t return with it the next day unless you’re willing to part with it. Security shifts change as frequently as the mood of the guard on watch. If the guy had a fight with his wife before work that day, you can bet your sweet Yoshi that the new cherry ChapStick and pack of tropical Starburst you just bought at Target on the way to the waterfront will not get past him.
Pay attention to what’s going on ahead of you in line. What are your fellow ravers being stripped of? If that item is with you and you want to keep it, hide it low down in between your cleavage or tuck it underneath the lower part of your breasts. I’ve unfortunately had to transport many an expensive lip gloss in this manner. Ladies, be kind and help your bros smuggle in any important items not prohibited by local law. Guys, please crotch some stuff for us, if necessary. Both methods of concealment will obviously only work for those who are reasonably endowed.
5. DON’T DRESS LIKE IT’S WINTER.
You’ve seen a calendar recently. You know which month it is. Spirit hoods and full-on animal costumes can be cute, but it’s 100 degrees out and you’re standing in a parking lot in North Jersey, sitting on a racetrack in the Nevada desert, or squatting in a tiny tent at a campsite in Georgia. Sweat is dripping down your forehead and collecting above your upper lip. You look HOT – not sexy hot, drippy hot.
And staring at the back of your huge cookie head two rows ahead of us at the Major Lazer stage is making US feel hot. If you insist on being a festival animal, perhaps shed some layers. Animal ears with or without a tail will suffice. Got fluffies? Pair them with a bathing suit or short dress.
6. GET OFF THE GROUND PLEASE.
Drowning in the cuddle puddle? You will get stepped on, tripped over, and cause a sprained ankle or two before the night is through. Just because you personally won’t remember it doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Get your ass to the rear corner or sides if possible, providing it’s a safe place for you to sit while pondering life’s mysteries. You know you’re the type of person who won’t physically be able to stand and focus for too long. Go zone out anywhere but the middle of the dance floor where your lifeless body is constantly parting the Rave Sea and arousing the suspicion of guys with flashlights wearing faded yellow “SECURITY” t-shirts. Don’t worry about not loitering in your usual inconvenient puddle anymore. The LED glove guy and pretty lasers will find YOU.
7. JUST SAY NO.
Do not accept drugs from strangers EVER. When you’re done giggling all over your smartphone, continue reading because I really need you to follow what I’m saying right now. Strangers are not your friends, and even worse, are often undercover faux festivalgoers. Imagine you’re standing by the Basscon stage sometime around 3 AM and you’re hungry. A stranger walks by, pulls a wrinkled Ziploc bag out of his boxers, and asks you if you want a ham sandwich. Do you eat it? OF COURSE NOT!! But he reassures you that it was freshly made an hour ago at this hip new gourmet sandwich shop in the suburbs. Now do you want to eat it? NO! If you wouldn’t trust this guy’s sandwich in your mouth, why would you trust anything else that he’s been concealing in sweaty body cavities and moist crevices all weekend? Sometimes these guys even give their mystery substances cutesy names like “pink ponies.” Never ride a stranger’s pony, ever, which brings me to my next tip.
8. DON’T GIVE OUT YOUR NUMBER.
Look at this number. Memorize this number. This is YOUR number.
Never give your real number to festival randos. Make out and grope all you want, but you WILL regret disclosing your digits. You’re tired. You’re impaired. You’re feeling festive. Under normal circumstances, this person would never have a shot with you out there in the real world. Waking up the next day at 2 PM and seeing “nice meeting u ;)” light up your cell phone to remind you of the prior night’s regret-filled frolicking with stage creepers and raverats is the last thing you want to deal with during an extended festival weekend. Sure you can probably block a bitch but in this day and age your cell phone number is often tied to your Facebook page, your LinkedIn account, and your life in general. The only thing possibly worse than this scenario is waking up next to rando raverat in your hotel room.
9. THE GUY IN THE CRAZY HAT OR WILD OUTFIT IS NOT A DRUG DEALER.
This is not an after school special. It’s a festival. Just because a guy is dressed in head-to-toe neon green spandex doesn’t mean that he has drugs for you. Leave that poor guy alone and let him enjoy the show. Every 20 minutes some asshole walks by and asks him if he’s “seen Molly.” Don’t assume the 6’4″ guy in the crazy hat is your local raverhood drug dealer. This is my friend Ryan.
At festivals, everybody always assumes he’s that guy. HE’S NOT THAT GUY. He’s actually a republican. Even if he had drugs on him, he sure as hell wouldn’t be sharing them with anyone, due to that whole republican thing that he’s way into. Please let him enjoy Richie Hawtin’s set in peace.
10. YOU’RE NOT THE OLDEST PERSON AT THE FESTIVAL.
No matter how “old” you feel and how often you threaten to retire “next year,” please realize that you are not the most senior member of the shuffle pile in general hardstyle population in any way, shape for form. When you’re done drying those tears of self pity, open your eyes and be on the lookout for your awesome elders who are always friendly and very eager to slide down rainbows with you while dropping a little old school knowledge on your ass. Just be aware of your limits. Geriatric ravers can drink you under the picnic table and dance circles around you. The last five decades of their existence have been spent maneuvering around real life bullshit while successfully concealing a secret raver identity. Spend at least a few minutes talking to one of them, be respectful, and prepare to have your mind blown. They’re politicians. They’re college professors. They’re scientists. They’re grandparents. And they REALLY know their shit. Even better, unlike those old crumpled tissues in your granny’s purse, these seniors are often packing cool accessories like diffraction glasses and will insist that you wear them during the second half of Carl Cox’s set when house makes way for techno and things start getting trippy.
11. SPF YOURSELF.
Fine, you don’t care about premature ageing, OR skin cancer. You’re a real risk taker. Congratulations EDC Knievel! But for fuck’s sake, please coordinate an outfit that doesn’t exacerbate or accentuate your country looking raveneck. Your friends don’t want to have to stare at the permanent beater lines etched into your flesh for the next three weeks until they finally fade. Okay – I lied. We really don’t mind you walking around with clothing outlines burnt into your crispy skin. It’s fucking hilarious. But we WILL laugh at you every day until you look presentable again, and you WILL take it. If you don’t want to be our walking punchline for three weeks, bathe in some Coppertone SPF 50 before you leave the house next time.
Bonus tip: WALK INTO VIP WITH A GA TICKET.
It goes without saying but to pull this off you need to put a little extra effort into your appearance. Nobody is letting a credential-less concertgoer backstage in a “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites” shirt and rainbow beanie cap.
Guys, you can skip this tip. Sorry but while it’s a man’s world, men revolve their entire world around one thing only, which brings me back to my tip.
This tip is only for the brave and moderately attractive, and mostly only works when attempted by one woman, two max. It also may involve some minor trial and error but it’s definitely worth a shot. Dress sexy, be confident, look straight ahead and walk your sweet ass right past security like you belong in fancy pants VIP. They have better alcohol, sweeter stage views, and cleaner restroom facilities!
If you hesitate, you will not get in.
If you show any fear whatsoever, you will not get in.
If you try to bring a few friends with you, you will not get in.
If you make eye contact with security, you will probably not get in.
If the security guard is female, you will probably not get in.
If you try to bring a guy with you, you will certainly not get in.
You need to usually attempt this alone and with all the swagger you can muster, but once you’re in, you’re pretty much in all night with no problems. Make yourself visible so security will later recognize you as “that girl who was in VIP earlier.” After you’ve had your fun, go find your bestie and bring her back to VIP with you. You’d be surprised how often that works too.
If at least one of my tips helps some lost souls out there make it through another festival season unscathed, then I’ve done my duty.
Keep your fluffies on the ground and keep reaching for first tier pricing!
Aimee for EDMNYC