Festival Truths: A Call to Awareness
By: Maria Alves (@chubbiwubbi)
Almost everybody who has been to a music festival, especially an EDM festival, can say it's a life-altering, life-enhancing, magical experience. You see it on Instagram, you read about it on Twitter, you second-hand experience the glamour on YouTube. The outfits, the colors, the lights, the sound, the food, the culture.
But what about what isn't shown to you? What about the uncomfortable bits, the ugly bits, the dangerous bits?
Most large and popular rave brands and companies discourage their ambassadors to share the unglamorous bits of festival experiences. They ask them to refrain from showing security, long lines, trash, bathroom situations, drug (ab)use, violence, and anything that isn't shiny, beautiful, and fun.
If you've been to a festival, you may agree that they aren't always as sparkly as they're portrayed. Keep in mind, this isn't to negate that they are also amazing experiences. I'm here to shed light, solidarity, and advice on how to deal with uncomfortable, unglamorous festival truths.
Sometimes, festivals will hire volunteers to work security, sometimes it's through a security company, sometimes its independent hires. Regardless of where they come from, security can range from breezy and beautiful to traumatic and invasive. There are too many accounts of people experiencing being touched inappropriately/excessively and being mistreated by festival security. My advice to you is to have your phone either audio recording or video recording your transaction through security. It seems tedious and you may think its not for you, but too many times people are discredited in their negative experience with security. Just to be safe, give yourself evidence of your experience.
To make moving through security easier, I recommend a clear hydration bag and fanny pack - it can eliminate the need for them to unzip and dig through all of your belongings and can speed up the process. If this isn't something you want to do, that's okay! You can always prepare by having your bags unzipped all ready for them to look through, as well as having your belongings stowed away in small clear bags, reusable ones exist or ziplock also suffices, this also makes it easier for them and for the people waiting behind you.
They offer same-gender frisks, and you are always encouraged to speak up when a security guard is too handsy. Do not allow anyone to mistreat your body. Do not fear their role or their title. Speak up! If not right away, then to a point of authority or even your friends. They are all there to support you.
2.) Long Lines
This can be cumbersome for so many reasons. Anticipation and weather being two of the most prominent ones. As for anticipation, there isn't much you can do to process this other than practicing patience and embracing the moment for the beauty it holds. Make friends with your linemates, trade Kandi and rave stories, talk about the lineup and who you're excited to see.
As for the weather, always be prepared. It's better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it. Although in these environments, your neighbors are far more likely to share with you. All you have to do it ask.
For hot, sunny days, bring a water bottle (refillable with a clasp you can attach to your bags or belt) or a plastic one works fine. Stay hydrated in line, but avoid filling your hydration bag unless you're sure you can drink it all before your turn at security. They will make you empty your bags and that just takes time away from everyone. You can also invest in a fan, sunblock, and a parasol. Parasol translates directly to "stop the sun" and serves as a light and often aesthetically appealing sunblock solution. It offers shade to you and possibly one other mate in line. The fan will help cool yourself and your neighbors and the sunblock, well, that's obvious.
For rainy waits, invest in a poncho or an umbrella. For cold waits? A hoodie/sweater/blanket works wonders. If you don't want to carry it in your backpack all day, you can always rent a locker at the festival.
Long waits may also encourage you to be on your phone, which obviously will drain that precious battery life. The best solution for this is a portable charger. You can buy one from WalMart or online, but my personal recommendation is going to be to buy one from SwftCharger. SwiftCharger is a reusable energy company that offers you infinitely interchangeable power for your phone. You purchase it online for your next festival and if they have a vendor booth there, all you have to do is turn in your dead charger and they hand you a brand new, fully charged one. You can do this as many times as needed throughout the entire festival and in the end, you get to take home the last one you have. You can check them out at www.swftcharge.com and my code WUBBI saves you money at checkout! They're a small business with amazing employees and reps that made my Lost Lands experience truly magical.
This is a big one for all of us, in and out of festival experiences. Since we are in this cultivated space of peace, love, unity, and respect, please feel empowered to embody each of those traits with every chance you make. Bring an empty trash bag and a set of gloves with you into the festival. Save it for the end and pick up trash on your way out. The service you're doing is generous beyond compare and is so greatly appreciated by those around you. You'd be happily surprised to see how influential your kindness and selflessness can be, and how you inspire others to help clean up with you.
If you're camping, spend at least 10 minutes every morning picking up all your trash. All the itty bitty pieces, encourage your campmates to do the same. Less trash means less visual clutter which will allow you to stay clear and focused!
4.) Bathroom Situations
Porta potties can be a triathlon to survive. We cannot control how others treat those spaces, but we can control how we treat them.
a. Booty Wipes is an amazing individually packaged wet wipes made to be 100% biodegradable and paraben-free. They're only $10 for a box of 30 and are more useful than you'll know. Other than their intended purpose, they serve as great facial wipes and hand wipes after eating. These wipes come in handy when there's no toilet paper in your chosen stall. You can purchase a box of 30 wipes for $10 at www.bootywipes.com and you can save money using my code CHUBBIWUBBI.
b. Take a light with you. You may not like what you see but it's better than going in the dark. Use toilet paper to clean your seat and lay a foundational layer between you and any surfaces your bits will touch. If you don't mind sacrificing the water, you can pour a water bottle on the floor to clean it a bit before pulling down all your clothes that any touch the floor or the sidings. Take the time, do the work.
c. Put the lid down when you're done. This helps with ventilation and will do a great service to whoever goes in after you.
d. Take the time to clean up after yourself. This kindness goes a long way when it comes to all the people who have to use that space after you. Do your part! Take the time!
5.) Drug (ab)use
This is the largest elephant of all. Drugs make their way into festivals. It is what it is. To pretend like they don't or to turn away from this conversation is IRRESPONSIBLE.
I recently was given an opportunity to have this conversation at a festival, and the security patrolling the area of my workshop heard me and demonized my group for mentioning drugs.
If you are taking drugs at a festival, please find a way to get your items tested. It takes time and effort, but not nearly as much time and effort it would take to recover from taking something detrimental to your health.
My favorite expression when it comes to self-dosing on any substance is that you can always take more, but you cannot take less. Be aware of what you're doing to your brain and body, pace yourself, and take it in small strides, you will be amazed at how well micro-dosing works for your experience, in all aspects.
Research the side effects of each substance. Research what substances exist to imitate the effects of the original. These research chemicals can be more damaging to the natural chemical balancing of your brain than anything else. Getting too lit is not worth your mental and physical well being. Turn down for what? For the conscious knowledge of your well being, that's for what.
You can also take vitamins and supplements that are created with your mind in mind. A fan favorite is 5htp, which alone can help assist in the release of serotonin in the brain; a chemical that plays a huge role in mood balancing.
My favorite, however, is RaveAid. RaveAid is a raver's multivitamin made up of the perfect balance of all sorts of vitamins needed to keep your brain, heart, and body supported through your festival experience. You can purchase RaveAid through www.raveaid.com and save 10% off with my code CHUBBIWUBBI.
If you are with someone who seems to be going too far, speak up. Talk to them calmly, kindly, and without judgment. You can't control how they react, but at least you let them know you care and are there to support them when they need you.
If you see a medical cart, move directly and immediately out of its path. If you're able, help clear a path by holding your arms out and helping to make others around you aware of the situation.
KNOW WHERE MEDICAL IS. KNOW TO TRUST THEM AND TO TRUST PEOPLE WHO THINK YOU NEED MEDICAL ATTENTION. From a scrape or cut to a hangover to the extremity of overdosing and seizing, MEDICAL IS THERE TO ENSURE YOUR SAFETY and that you make it out of the festival ALIVE.
People are allowed to enjoy mosh pits. People are allowed to release and rage the way they need to heal and feel themselves. But be aware of your surroundings. Know your boundaries. Trust your intuition. Remove yourself from a mosh pit, regardless of how good your spot is if it means you remove yourself from danger.
I had to carry a very tall, very muscular man, out of a moshpit at a festival because someone or something busted his head open right at his eyebrow. He was bleeding profusely and was in such a state of shock that he wanted to continue noshing even though he was blinded by the blood pouring into his eyes. Trust people who want to take care of you. Trust yourself to know when to get the f*ck out if a dangerous situation.
Also know what to do to help someone in danger, and how to handle any instances of fighting and intentional violence around you. Grab a cop/security guard. Go to the info booth. Run to medical. Save a life. You can call attention to yourself by carrying a flashlight with you, and spread the word to those around you that you need medical or security assistance.
Work together. Save a life.
I'm happy to have been given the space by Freedom Ravewear to share these uncomfortable truths with those who are open and willing to receive them and learn from them. I hope you all find purpose in my words and my experiences and that you go out and have a level headed approach to your festival experience.
From my heart to yours,