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Attending your first music festival is a lot like losing your virginity — or, at least it was for me. I loved it, but it was awkward. At points, I didn't know what I was doing and just tried to look sexy. Yes, it was a lot like doing it for the first time, in that respect.
I've been involved in the rave scene for about ten years or so, and I still fondly reminisce about going to the first rave I ever went to. But, that doesn't mean there wasn't an awkward learning curve for me to deal with.
While it was fun, there's a lot of things I wish I knew before I attended my first. These days, the best music festivals in the US tend to be major productions that would have probably overwhelmed me at first.
I know it's not easy being a newbie to EDM. To make things easier, here's what you should know when attending your first music festival.
Stop worrying about not having the right clothes, and start having fun.
There are many things you should know before attending your first music festival, but none are as important as this one. I have seen so many newbies spend tons of money on "must have" gear, and then get pissed when no one compliments their outfit.
This is a sure-fire way to ruin your music festival experience, and make you come off as a stuck-up, fake snob. Not cool!
You are not there to be showered with praise on a costume. You're not there to show off J. Valentine fluffies. You're not there to show off the fact that you blew $400 at Dolls Kill for the ultimate Burner outfit.
You know what you're there for? The music and the people.
Everyone else is there for the music and people, too. Music festivals, especially Burner/Gratitude/RAVE gatherings, are where people go for acceptance. People in these scenes are not looking to "outsexy" someone. They're there for fun, and that's what you should be focused on.
The best way to make sure you go in with the right attitude is to attend a music festival wearing something that looks good, but is comfortable — and to focus in on the people, the PLUR, and the music.
Acting like a diva will not help you win new friends. Besides, when Modestep is playing, you really shouldn't be too worried about what you're wearing. You should be focused on the sick beats and synth they're blasting out, don't you think?
You will see some things. Weird things.
Attending your first music festival is a lot like dropping acid. You will see things you didn't expect to see, and not all of it will make sense. At the first music festival I attended, I saw an orgy happen... while people were wearing bunny costumes.
Admittedly, it was a hot thing to see. However, you will eventually see a lot of things that you will wish you hadn't seen if you stay in the scene long enough. These will include girls puking, random people doing the dirty, potential overdoses, and at least one or two moments where explosive breakups happen mid-rave.
But, it's not all bad. You will see the best of humanity at music festivals. You'll see real PLUR, and magical friendships being made in an instant. You'll see people bonding in ways that you won't see anywhere else. It's a very tight-knit community, and yes, you will love every second of it.
You do need supplies, and you might want to plan ahead when it comes to camping.
When I first started, most music festivals were multi-day parties in warehouses and peoples' abandoned farmhouses. So, planning wasn't that important. We had shelter. Sometimes, one of us would leave and grab food from the corner store — then go through the back, say the password, and eat with our buddies mid-festival.
However, when attending your first music festival has definitely changed from those days. Nowadays, you have to plan things out, since most festivals are multi-day outdoor camping ventures. Not having a tent, not having toilet paper, not packing food, and not having a toothbrush can turn into an ugly, ugly time.
So, make sure you know what amenities are available to you before you go, and realize that it may take a while to get food in those places. A smart first-time raver will go with veteran festival goers, pack some toiletries, share a tent, and (maybe) try to sneak in some extra booze and cigarettes to trade for food.
This handy list of things to bring to a music festival will help you get the most fun out of your time attending your first music festival.
Do not try to act like a veteran EDM fan if you're not.
Honestly, I don't understand why so many newbies insist on trying to act like they are a big shot while attending their first music festival. Those in the loop know you're new, and frankly, it just alienates you from people who would be happy to hang out with you otherwise.
More often than not, saying it's your first music festival will actually get you way better treatment. You might get free kandi bracelets, free drinks, and brand new friends who will just stick by because you're new. That's a great thing to have!
So, go ahead. Admit your newbie status. It's actually for the best.
Comfort and safety are your top priorities — not Instagram.
Festivals are multi-day affairs! And, people can get a bit loopy after day one. So, if you're attending your first music festival, make a point to dress comfortably and keep an eye on your gear. Thieves attend festivals, too.
As much as I hate to say it, pickpocketing and theft is kind of a big issue at certain music festivals. This is especially true when you're discussing hippie festivals and underground rave festivals.
Items like fanny packs, belt bags, and backpacks are incredibly good for making sure that you don't lose stuff — or that someone won't pickpocket your goodies when you're not looking.
I'd also strongly advise against high heels or heavy boots, unless you have an RV or secret location where you can store your shoes safely. Wearing heels or boots at a festival for several days is a recipe for horribly smelly feet, discomfort, and possibly even bleeding from dancing. A better option? Flip flops or sneakers, depending on your style.
Lastly, ban rompers from your music festival wardrobe. Attending your first music festival usually means you'll be introduced to the horrors of a heavily-used porta-potty... and you'll thank yourself when you don't have to be buck naked in one of those things.
Don't mess with security, and don't do anything too obvious.
Most mainstream music festivals have pretty intense security — and if you're wise, you will not try to cause a problem with the guys running the show. They will kick you out, or worse, call the cops on you if you pose too much of a problem.
So, if you are going to do illegal things, don't do them around the bouncers and security folks. If you are doing illegal things in front of them, don't be obvious about it. Don't get into fights, because you will end up leaving in cuffs.
Also, don't hate on the security guys. They're just doing their job. If they don't, attending your first music festival will be a pretty scary experience for more reasons than one.
Water and cash are going to be your two most important valuables.
It sounds ridiculous, but it's true. You need to know this before attending your first music festival so that you can plan ahead. It does sound ridiculous, but investing in a camelbak is a good way to keep hydrated during longer lines.
Cash is king at raves, especially when getting water, food, and merch. Water is queen, because if you don't stay hydrated while dancing the night away, you might end up dying. I'm not even joking.
So yes, keep hydrated and keep cash on you. Otherwise, you will have a bad time.
Lastly, believe in PLUR.
PLUR is the name of the game. You need to believe in Peace, Love, Unity and Respect if you go to a music festival. You also need to act on PLUR principles — so be kind and respectful to your fellow ravers.
Otherwise, attending your first music festival will not make any sense whatsoever and you will feel left out. You need to believe in PLUR to feel the full effect of this concept, and honestly, without PLUR, music festivals just aren't worth going to.