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Festival Phobia – My problem, or yours?

July 27, 2010

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:

-Themed costumes

-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

-Queues

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…..

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. July 28, 2010 12:15 am

    I quite agree and this is what puts me off the festivals which go on longer than a day and charge too much. I don’t think you are missing anything your just not affraid to say when something isn’t cool which so many sycophantic people cannot do, perhaps they are in practising for a job presenting for the BBC.

  2. July 28, 2010 8:21 am

    Couldn’t agree more – find the whole festival thing HIDEOUS. I went to one in 1998 and was hosed down by the fire brigade. Never again.
    For those that do love festivals though, here’s a great tip. Put an “out of use” sign on one of the toilets, then it’s yours for the rest of the duration. Wink.

  3. July 28, 2010 8:39 am

    Sooo with you – I did my fair share of rave when I was younger (not off my nut for the record) but festivals – not a chance!

  4. Melissa T.G. permalink
    July 28, 2010 4:05 pm

    Do we have these things in the U.S., or is this just a U.K. thing? I hear about them every now and then (for instance, via Lady Gaga’s dubious intersex photo) but I didn’t realize they were real events that regular people went to.

  5. Olivia permalink
    July 29, 2010 12:51 pm

    To Leo Bear, good tip but it’s not very in keeping with the people-loving vibe, is it? If anyone finds themself doing that, then they can be pretty sure that they – like me – don’t belong at festivals.

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