In this day and age its been made clear that the dance music festival is the holy grail of all parties. Whether you're a veteran or a newbie, there will always be new insights gained from each wild experience. With that in mind we're proud to present this detailed guide of survival tips courtesy of Noah Loyd from Haterade.
In June 2010 I attended my very first EDC with a group of my closest friends. We had no idea what to expect, it was very foreign to us but we were hooked immediately. The lights, the fireworks, the people and most importantly the music, gave us a new perspective on what it meant to be a music enthusiast. Since then, I have attended 28 music festivals and countless smaller sized events, developing a routine and a checklist for things I need to have and things I need to do at every festival to make the experience better and better each time I walk through the gates amongst the madness. Today I want to share those things with you. It makes me sad hearing about people having a bad time at a festival, while at times the event company may be to blame, a lot of times it is because the festival goer is not adequately prepared. I wish someone told me all of these things before I went to my first festival and I hope it helps you on your next dance music festival excursion.
**Disclaimer: due to the relentless hostility of the internet, I want to make clear that the following points are only suggestions, not mandates. The most important thing to do at a festival is to have fun and stay safe.**
1. SHOW UP WITH A GOOD ATTITUDE!
Sounds pretty cheesy, but I cannot tell you how many times I've gone to a festival and have seen someone who is just pissed off for nothing. They complain about anything and everything and usually end up ruining the experience for everyone else in their group or in close proximity to them. Understand that you are in a massive and there will be times where you will be less than comfortable. It's kind of like camping in a way, you're outside, you don't have the same amenities readily available like you normally would, you're slightly less comfortable, but you're having fun and that's why you are there.
2. STICK WITH A SMALL GROUP
I understand that when going to a massive (especially a really big one) you want to bring all of your friends. However, while it's nice to be in a group full of people, the personal delays tend to stack up. Bathroom breaks, water refills, "I want to sit down" breaks, stage preferences, and conflicting schedules will result in a lot of time spent doing other things rather than enjoying the festival. If you are the type of person that is a more "go with the flow" mindset, then you probably don't care about the delays as much, but if you are like me, and have spent a ridiculous amount of money on travel, tickets, and other expenses, you don't want to spend a majority of your time waiting around. A good small group should typically consist of 2-5 people in total.
3. BRING A CAMELBACK
Since Insomniac introduced free water at their festivals, other festivals are catching on quick. In Amsterdam, all music festivals are required to have free water available to attendees. If this is the case for your next festival (and if regulations permit it) bring a camelback. I know a lot of people don't like carrying things at festivals but I guarantee that you will not mind carrying one of these. These bad boys with Hands free water, easy refill, and it insulates the temperature of the water so it stays cooler longer. They are a little pricey to some standards but if you frequent festivals and want to stay hydrated, get one. (http://shop.camelbak.com/)
4. DRESS IN COMFORTABLE CLOTHES/SHOES
You would be surprised how many people come wearing clothing and or shoes that are uncomfortable or "too expensive" to mess up. Remember, going to a festival is like going camping, you're not going to a club with a dress code. Your shoes will be destroyed, you probably will get doused with someone's poorly handled alcoholic beverage, and you will definitely be sweaty by the end of the night. So pack light clothing and comfortable running shoes that you don't mind getting dirty or scuffed. Remember you're not at a club, no one cares if you have a $200 t-shirt on.
"Stay right here, I will be right back" are the famous last words of anyone at a festival. Chances are, you will not see your friends until afterward."
5. LEARN THE VENUE AND ESTABLISH A MEETING POINT
This applies especially to EDC Las Vegas. When festival day 1 rolls around, try to get there a little earlier than you would have otherwise planned. Take that extra time to explore the entire venue, take it all in while getting familiar with your surroundings. This will help you familiarize yourself with the massive arena where you will be spending a good amount of time over the next few days.
It is way too easy to get lost in these venues especially if you are in a large group (see #2), so after you have walked the venue with your friends, establish a meeting point. Cell phones rarely ever work during festivals and there has yet to be a viable solution to this problem. However, you are now an informed festival goer and you have a plan! First, find a place that isn't too crowded and very specific. This will make it easier for you to locate your missing friends and for them to find you as well. Try to avoid generalizing the meeting point i.e. "Meet by the bathroom, or the Farris wheel" pick a very specific corner, artwork installation or table to meet at. I also found it helpful to establish a 15 minute waiting time with your group, if someone In your group goes missing (which will happen I promise you) and does not show up within 15 minutes, take the remaining members of your group to the meeting spot.
In 2013 I went to EDC with a group of 3 of my best friends, we got separated a few times but with the meeting spot and the wait period we were never left looking for anyone for more than 20 minutes at a time. I cannot begin to tell you how much this helps keeping your group together.Remember, "stay right here, I will be right back" are the famous last words of anyone at a festival. Chances are, you will not see your friends until afterward.
6. TRIPLE CHECK FOR YOUR ID BEFORE LEAVING
If you have ever been in line for a festival and someone forgot their ticket/ID you know this tip already. It has become a good habit for me and for my friends when going to festivals, call for a ticket and ID check when leaving the hotel, upon arrival to the venue, and before getting in line. You don't want to be left waiting for your buddy running back to the labyrinth that is the parking lot after you have spent hours in line waiting to get in.
7. DO YOUR VERY BEST NOT TO BUY DRUGS AT A FESTIVAL
Whether you like to do drugs or not, this should be relevant to all festival goers. Too many people sell bad drugs (or fake drugs) at festivals to make money off of people who are looking to have a good time. The topic of drugs is a polarized one in this industry but one thing most agree on is that you do not want to buy drugs once inside the festival. Do not buy anything from someone you do not know. Unless you managed to sneak in a test kit through the doors, it's in your best interest to avoid doing this.
8. HOW TO MAKE IT TO THE FRONT
Although some festival goers prefer to hang around the back of a crowd, most will want to be in the prime front location (at least for their favorite performers). This is an especially difficult task to accomplish especially at a major festival and even more so if your favorite artist is playing the main stage. Over the years I have found a technique that works almost every time to get you to the front (or at the very least very close to the front.
a) Find where most people are entering the stage area. You want to avoid this entry and go around the long way if possible. The traffic from people leaving and coming in is chaotic in this area and if you go all the way around to the other side, chances are you will find a much less congested walkway for you and your group to go through.
b) Walk along the side, not through the middle. Some festivals have walk ways along the side of the stage that security has been instructed to keep clear so people can pass through. This will make it easy for you and your group to pass up everyone in the middle and make it to the front. Pushing through everyone down the center never makes you any friends and it takes a lot of time.
c) Don't push! Nobody likes that guy that strong arms his way past you at a festival. Be courteous, ask if it is ok to pass someone if you have to go around and be polite if you accidentally bump into someone. Just be good to others
9. MAKE SURE YOUR PHONE IS CHARGED
Experienced festival goers know this one well. Charge your phone to 100% before leaving your hotel. Phones are virtually useless once you get inside the festival gates due to mass usage, but with all of the photos and videos taken, status updates, number exchanges, and failed attempts at contacting your friends (if you get separated) your battery life will dwindle. You definitely don't want to leave a festival with a dead phone battery, especially if you get separated from your ride. You can buy external phone batteries to give you an extra charge also, just make sure to charge that one as well before you leave.
10. (DJs and producers) BRING YOUR FLASHDRIVE
It's always a long shot to meet big name DJs at festivals, but there is always a chance. You never know when you might bump into one of your favorite artists or inspirations in the business, so be prepared. Artists who are given something physical they can hold in their hand will make a lasting impression. They will be far more likely to listen to a promo they were given personally than an email that will get lost in translation with all the rest.
Luck is when preparation meets opportunity. Imagine you bump into your favorite artist and then give him or her your music and you get a response! It wouldn't be possible if you didn't have your music on you. Not to mention, if you're a CDJ DJ then you're ready to spin at a moments notice. Cmon, we all know that us DJs fantasize about a big name artist not showing up at the last minute and getting an opportunity to play on one of the biggest stages in the world right? Or is that just me?
I hope this helps all you guys in your future excursions to festivals. It has helped me immensely and ensured a great time for me in all of my past experiences. Be safe, have fun, and enjoy festival season this year everyone!
- Noah (Haterade)
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