How to go to a Festival When You're a Small Child, an Old Man, or a Sober Person
Photo by William Coutts
A golden era begins when parents stop caring about your location and ends when you get married – for a short time you’re able to do what you want and you’ve only got yourself to blame when you inevitably fuck it all up.
Lots of young adults attend music festivals during this formative period – college students, drop-outs, and people with bosses who don't mind you disappearing every Monday and Friday in July. Earlier this week, we wrote about how to go to a festival once you've left your teens behind. But young adults tanked up on MDMA and a crate of Budweiser are not the only people that go to festivals - people that are too old to understand what a Snapchat is, people who can't walk five steps without someone wiping a fleck of disemboweled food off their chin and some people that don't drink all enjoy live music too. Some people even go to festivals to work.
With that in mind we called up the only person we know that has a kid, one of our dads, and a few other people to find out what advice they have for going to a festival.
Going to a festival as a small child
Grace Melody McLaughlin is an 11-year-old girl from London. She has been to five festivals.
We don't really bring our own tents to festivals, we do something called glamping so it is all set up when we get there. I don't recommend people bring any equipment to cook food 'cause there'll be loads of food there, but they should bring sleeping bags and loads of blankets and stuff.
I like to wear shorts and t-shirts at festivals. For shoes I wear Crocs mostly but sometimes I wear sandals. You should bring glo-sticks to festivals, and you should bring fancy dress in case there's a fancy dress competition. Last year we had to dress up as a nationality, which I thought was a bit of a racist theme, but I put on a moustache and a Russian hat.
There are always concerts and even when you get back to your tent you always end up staying up.
Last year, I couldn't find my mom and my brother, so I went to the lost children tent. They were a bit disorganized so I was there for like three hours. This year I've got my own phone so hopefully it will be a lot easier.
I didn't really know may of Ash's songs before I saw them at a festival last year, but they gave me a special announcement from the stage which was really cool. Usually we listen to the bands in the car on the way to the festival.
Grace has a blog (gracemelodycouk.ipage.com) and is making her Edinburgh festival standup debut this year.
Going to a festival in your sixties
This is Alan Wolfson, our editor's dad.
My classic 70s pop top VW camper van is eggy colour, which is why it's called Eggy Pop. With added rust patch cred, it is undoubtedly the coolest way to arrive at a festival, but most importantly for an aging rock fan, it keeps your ass off the ground, it's cushioned and dry, and is virtually shlep proof. You turn up at your pitch ready assembled - having glided past ruck sack laden wheelbarrow pushers paying penance for their sturdy youthfulness.
You're in and you're off. There's an all-inclusive welcome, an embrace from festival-goers a third your age, and all sense of seniority evaporates. Your rock and roll ravaged 60-year-old body is lured into a false sense of stamina, your mind is open, your judgement is mental and your pleasures are guilty. The music festival is the elixir of youth and nobody seems to mind that you're dancing like your son.
Going to a festival when you're sober
Eleanor Morgan is the UK editor of Munchies.
Not drinking at a festival isn’t that hard. As someone who doesn’t particularly love being drunk and is a complete lightweight, trust me: the whole experience is more fun when you’re not puking into your hands at 5 AM inside a tent that is 70 degrees and smells of an asshole that hasn't been washed in three days.
Even if everyone around you seems like they’re having a far better time, with your plastic pint glass full of Coca Cola, you get to actually enjoy a festival for what it is – watching a load of bands you probably like playing outside with your friends around you. With clarity of mind it'ss actually quite nice - you might actually remember the music.
Here’s the thing; buying booze at festivals is expensive. Once all the little green bottles you sneaked in are gone, you’re at the whim of your chosen festival’s screamingly overpriced bars. I’ve had friends blow half a month’s pay on booze and drugs over one weekend, and while there’s certainly an argument for living-loose-and-in-the-moment and all that, coming home hundreds of bucks lighter is fucking miserable. And is it worth it when you can’t remember half the things you did anyway? Not drinking at a festival will save you money, brain cells, and a whole lot of digestive trouble.
You just have to make a choice and stick to it. Fun is a subjective thing, and if you can’t equate a weekend with your friends and loud music without being muntered, you might want to take a look in the mirror, mate. Yes, youth is made for getting wasted, but as the number of festivals increase and their overheads are raised, so will be the prices behind the bars. Do you really want to go home broke? Also, binge drinking is really shitty for you. Call me Go Home Grandma to my face, see if I care. I’m just thinking of your livers.
I imagine that most of my dilated-pupilled, puking-in-bushes festival days are behind me now, but I don’t think this is just about age. Not drinking when others are can be a pain because you get labeled as boring, a party pooper, but if you can ride out the waves of that initial peer pressure, people will soon forget you’re not boozing by their fifth, sloshy pint. “Not drinking” is subjective, too – having a couple of beers isn’t making your way through a whole pack and you’ll still feel good. Like some orgasms, the feeling of getting there is sometimes better than “there” itself.
Going to a festival as an employee
Our steward wanted to remain anonymous.
You know when you get annoyed at festival employees because they don’t know anything about what’s going on? Well guess what? We really don’t know what’s going on. Everyone in an orange bib is only doing it for the free tickets and a few decent meals. We’re happy to help, but we don’t give a shit about you wanting to park in the same field as your friend so can you drive round and go through that gate over there.
Try and get the early shifts - they’re relatively painless and everyone is in a good mood, feeling optimistic about the weekend. The Monday morning slot is fucking terrible. You’re on a comedown. Everyone else is on a comedown. Your teeth hurt, people are getting aggressive, and all the time you’re directing them back to their clean showers and warm duvets you're standing in a car park feeling like you’re about to die.
The other main issue is how exhausted you get. In the time most people are crashing out after a big night, you’re about to start eight hours on your own. It’s not a bad idea to keep taking drugs during your shift, it’ll keep you awake and vaguely entertained. Don’t think being an employee means you don’t get searched on the way in though, security will feel you up just like everyone else.
You will get bored, but try and get them to give you a walkie talkie so you can at least listen to all the gossip from on site. One time I was gripped by the story of a guy dressed as a tiger who had been ejected from the festival for being so fucked on drugs and had wandered into a local primary school.
In the end, all you have to do is a stand up for three eight hour shifts and you get a free ticket. Not ideal, but better than having to work in a burger van.
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