The Lure of the Festival

Whenever I see somebody I don’t know wearing a festival band
around their wrist I feel an instinctive sense of comradeship with them, as if
we have both shared a significant and traumatic experience, which arguably in
some ways we have. ‘Oh yay’ I think ‘we’re going to be friends now’. Of course
a mutual love of festivals is not a particularly strong basis for a friendship
and neither does it mean that the person is not a complete moron – in fact
depending on the festival one could argue that attendance is in fact distinct
proof that they are – however, going to a festival certainly means something. A
festival-goer is a very particular personality, festivals are like marmite, you
either love them or you hate them. Half of my friends would swoon at the very
idea of a weekend in a muddy field with nowhere to plug in their hair
straighteners and toilets that a medieval castle would be ashamed to call their
own. The other half of my friends would willingly pay up to 200 quid for the

I do not judge those that don’t find people peeing up
against their tent much of a holiday, I have to say it isn’t one of the aspects
of a festival that attracts me the most; I understand, I’m almost envious of
their festival resistance. I on the other hand cannot resist a festival, I
cannot resist the lure of the mud and the rain and the alcohol and the smell.
Going to a festival is like going back to medieval times and living like a
peasant, only with better music and less pigs.

However, despite the mud and the temporarily lapse in every
human beings basic hygiene, festivals are wonderful places. We not only regress
in terms of our sense of cleanliness but we also go back to a more innocent
time. We’ve all heard of the ‘good old days’ where you could play on the street
and not worry about getting run over, where you could leave your baby in a pram
outside the shop and not worry about it getting stolen, where you could smile
at a stranger in the street and not be beaten up for ‘starting’ on them, where everybody
seemed to have ‘Werther’s Originals’ in their handbags. Festivals are the only
way we can ever taste that again, they are a beautiful bubble in a more cynical
and selfish time. I camp in a field with thousands of other people, thousands
of other people are a plastic Tesco zip away from un-doing my tent and stealing
all my stuff and yet I’ve never been robbed. At the front of the crowd you can
easily be pushed onto the ground and trampled on, yet strangers always help me
up. It’s perfectly acceptable at a festival to talk to people you don’t know;
in fact you’re more likely to be judged if you don’t.

Basically, at festivals everybody is just a lot friendlier;
albeit half the time this is because they’re on some sort of illegal drug and
think you’re a panda, but the fact remains that everybody there just wants to
enjoy themselves, a motivation strangely lacking in normal society, a society
where it is deemed far more noble and morally enhancing to do things you don’t
like and then moan about it later. There are no TV’s or computers at festivals,
people actually have to talk. Phones very quickly run out of battery meaning
that when you say ‘let’s meet at 2’ you have to do the more traditional thing
of actually meeting them at 2. You no longer have the luxury that 21st
living gives us of being 3 hours late and just texting them to say ‘soz babe’.

On entering a festival you walk under a metaphorical
waterfall, all your worries and stresses are washed away. For a few days
nothing the other side of a fence matters, there’s nothing to get up for or go
to bed for, just all your favourite music and all your favourite people at your
disposal. There are no buildings at festivals, no modern shower blocks, nowhere
to plug in appliances, check your emails or charge up your phone. There are no
carpets, no dining tables, nowhere to sit down and eat your caviar, nowhere to
just casually watch TV. From one angle it sounds horrific, but from a different
angle it’s really quite refreshing. Going to a festival gives you a good idea
of what it’s like to live like a cow – if ‘Mumford and Sons’ made a regular
appearance headlining in the milking shed – and you know what, it’s not a bad
life. Cows don’t go on diets, stress about the number of calories there are in
a blade of grass or worry about whether they’re going to ‘make something of
their life’. Cows don’t care what people think, they just do what they want to
do; to an extent we could all learn from that. (Yes, you’ve got it right, today
is the day you’re being advised to live more like a cow.)

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