It seems to be a sort of right of passage now that when you turn 18 you have to pack up a tent, hide some alcohol in your sleeping bag, lie in a muddy field and listen to some music for 3 days. Or in other words, go to a festival. When I was a fresh faced 18 year old however I had low blood pressure that made standing hard and a crippling fear of crowded spaces so I decided to sit the whole festival thing out. Plus I’m a bit of a grandma so I didn’t think I was going to be down with the kids enough to go! It’s always been something I’ve regretted though so this year when the opportunity to go to SW4 (a dance festival in Clapham) arose I decided I was going to take the bull by the horns and go, it was only a day festival and was close to home so I figured if it went horribly wrong I could always just leave! Seeing as it was something I’d never done before I felt like David Attenborough crossing the Masai Mara for the first time and if I’m honest I can’t actually imagine it being that different of a scenario – crowded watering holes, creatures running around and loud noises coming from every corner. It was definitely like nothing else I’d ever seen so I thought I would recount some of the things I picked up on as a first time festival goer…
1. People come up with some very inventive solutions to getting alcohol pass the guards. I saw one guy unzip his trousers, reach into his boxers and pull out a pouch of, what I can only hope, wasn’t urine. There were girls going shots from tampon packets, people downing Listerine bottles and hip flasks appearing from every nook and cranny. All I could think was bravo for inventiveness!
2. Seeing as once you were in there was no way to go out and come back, they were able to charge ridiculous prices! £10 for a small margarita pizza, which you could only pay for with cash, and then charging £4 to get money out the atm if you actually wanted to eat. I’m not even going to mention £7 for a shot size bottle of wine or I might start crying again!
3. There are some horrible people pick pocketing so keep an eye out on your stuff at all times and if you don’t need something then just don’t bring it!
4. Girls in the toilets are actually like angels sent down from above. If you think club toilets are amazing then you’ve seen nothing yet! I popped in for a quick pee and left with my face covered in glitter, a million compliments on my outfit (which really wasn’t anything special) and even a shot from one of the previous mentioned tampon packets, something I never thought I would say!
5. As well as being tactical sneaking in alcohol people are also sneaky about ways to get to the front of a set. I heard “those are my friends over there” even though they were pointing at basically no one, “I was here earlier I just needed to pee” and “oh I think I dropped something over there I just need to check”. My favourite however was when one girl shouted “HE HAS TO GET TO THE FRONT IT IS ON HIS BUCKETLIST”
6. Mosh pits will break out anywhere and everywhere so be careful!
7. Festivals seem to have their own climates where one second it will be boiling and the next chucking it down with rain but I promise when you’re caught up in a crowd enjoying the music, you won’t even notice!
8. There does seem to be a pressure to dress like your the coolest little cat on the block but I’ve decided all that matters is you’re comfortable! Wear trainers, bring a light jacket and if it gives you a wedgie it’s not worth wearing no matter how nice it looks
9. It is loud! (Obvious one I know but just something to bear in mind!)
10. Your feet and back will ache like you’ve just been in a fight with Mike Tyson but it is honestly so worth it because there is no better feeling than being surrounded by a great bunch of people, all signing along to a song you love and seriously feeling like you’re on top of the world!
So there we have it, from one grandma to another, whack some glitter on your face, dig out your raincoat and go and enjoy yourself (just make sure you win the lottery first if you want a slice of pizza!)
BONUS TOP TIP – if it’s a day festival, or even a weekend one and you don’t want to camp, I would highly recommend hiring out an air bnb or cheap hotel nearby for the night. You don’t have to worry about travel and train times so you can party as late into the night as you want and your bed is ready to crash into only a few paces down the street. It honesty took so much worry off my shoulders and made the whole thing a lot more enjoyable!
Have you ever been to a festival? What was it like for you?
Go and grab another cuppa on me, Em x
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