Festival Phobia – My problem, or yours?
Every summer a slight unease descends on me.
Festivals. It feels like the whole world – from my nearest and dearests to my colleagues to my parents’ friends – all pack off and head into a hinterland of mud (or sunburn), communal camping, narcotics, beer, ceaseless noise (the worst being other people’s revelry), and dubious toilet situations which, en masse, are never pleasant. They all seem to enter and embrace this deeply uncomfortable, hassle-tastic form of collective partying, while I stay at home, strolling on Hampstead Heath, going out for dinner, visiting my grandpa. They pray at the altar of THE ENDLESS AWESOME GIG while I choose Itunes in my bedroom. Who’s cooler? Exactly.
That unease, though. It comes at me every time I come across someone’s ecstatic, almost post-orgasmic accounts and photo montages of their festival madness. I feel, to put it plainly, like they’ve entered a world of 1960s-style abandonment that I am too neurotic and short-tempered to deal with. I kind of wish I could be one of those people happy in a noughties party crowd, doing the festival thing, not worrying about what happens if I get tired but can’t sleep because there is nowhere to go. But I’m not. So instead, my position is that I dislike the idea of festivals. Deeply.
To me, “mad dancing on the pagoda” – as for example at the Secret Garden Party last weekend, and seeing Jade Jagger (yuck) partying “hardcore” in a nearby tent or taking lots of pills and dancing in different DJ tents till 7AM, and knowing that the only refuge available is a tent in a field of tents probably in a pool of beer and piss, and being in close quarters with the jabber and screeching of everyone else being drugged out of their heads, sounds like a prison term to me. An endurance test, not a pleasure fest.
Here are things that went on at the Secret Garden Party that I find about as appealing as rowing without a paddle in Niagra Falls:
-People doing tribal dances
-People dancing around trapeze artists
-People cavorting in paint
-Powdery, pilly drugs
-Everyone getting truly fucked
-Having to stay up all night
-Folksy bands I’ve never heard of
Here are things I prefer:
-Getting drunk – then going to bed
-Choosing whose wastedness I have to overhear and observe
-Swimming the the ladies pond on Hampstead Heath
-Listening to Schumann, Chopin, my own private collection of hip hop
So, in conclusion: either I missed an essential gene for 21st century fun-having and am really Jane Austen stuck in a Girl About Town’s body, or festivals are actually an earthly form of hell…..