Surviving the summer festival season takes a bit more than a ton of money and a hollow leg, especially for women. Here are some tips for keeping your lollapalooza from going lollakaput.
Going solo? Introduce yourself to your fellow campers.
This is not only polite, but your neighbours might defend the girl-next-door’s tent from shifty-eyed would-be rummagers. And tipsy campers tend to think twice about hitting on someone they’ve formally, cheerfully, soberly met.
Get a festival buddy.
Don’t have one? Attach yourself to a like-minded group and make one. Like in scuba diving, this pal can drag you back to the shallow end if things get too deep.
We understand it’s your world we merely walk around in, but if just for your own sake, keep an eye on your buddy.
Establish a meeting point and time and stick to it.
At least once a day, gather at an agreed-on meeting spot. The meeting point should be a place where the group can hang out comfortably whilst waiting for the one who’s always late. (There’s always one who’s always late)
Ideally this place should be equidistant from the drinks station and the toilets. While we’re dreaming, with a phone charging station with plenty of outlets.
Not too close to the toilets!
Unless you really, really want to regret your choice of meeting place by Day 2.
Don’t drink the Kool-Aid!
If you choose to imbibe in non-traditional substances, test them at home in advance of the event. Test kits are like cats online: they’re everywhere.
No matter how wonderful people seem, don’t take their drugs or unlabelled hooch: it’s not worth playing pharmaceutical roulette.
Even with tested medicaments from home, go easy. Festing is a music-and-fun marathon, not a sprint to the nearest emergency room.
BYOCup with screw-top lid.
Ever tried to cram a roofie into a sippy-cup? Enough said.
Read the map. All of it.
Yeah, sure, you can find the bar at an outdoor festival in 30 seconds flat, but where are the toilets? The safety tent?
How the hell do you find your tent?
Ever lost your car in a parking garage after a night out? Finding your tent in the dark is the muddy, cold miserable version.
Mark your spot on an offline version of the map on your phone.
Or go old-school: mark it on a map made from shredded trees (paper) with an instrument that uses dye in a waterproof emulsion (a Sharpie)
Another way is to use a mnemonic device. How did you remember your locker combination in school? ‘11 (metres) months left until Bestival, and I’ll be right there 2 rows back, looking for my 20–(metres) year-old yellow right-handed plush toy. Translation: 11m, then left, then 2 rows back on the right side, and the tent is 20m to the right.
If this is too complicated, don’t worry. Even Zuckerberg failed with passwords.
Beware of clever and cheeky markers, especially if you didn’t make nice with your neighbours. Flags are hard to see in the dark, and really cool ones get nicked for souvenirs.
Homing devices are great, as long as your phone didn’t die in the mud.
Neon pool noodles don’t weigh much and can be attached using the fest-goer’s friend, duct tape. Spray-painting your abode in fluorescent runic shapes could help or hurt you, depending on the festival and where you’re camping.
Prepare for rain.
‘Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines.’ Clearly Shakespeare didn’t go to a UK festival. Be prepared for the certainty that the firmaments will shift to the aquatic. ZipLoc everything you want to stay dry.
If you think it’s an emergency, it’s an emergency.
Feeling overwhelmed? Overheated? Overdosed? That’s what the safety tent is for. Trained people will take care of you, won’t judge, and won’t tell your mother. It takes real courage, determination, imagination and stupidity to shock the safety tent attendants. Don’t try to shock the safety attendants.
Pay attention to even minor injuries. Keep in mind that you’re in a space normally occupied by livestock, who don’t have the luxury of portable toilets. That’s why it’s called ‘pastoral.’ (I call it ‘poop.’)
150,000 people + animal excrement + blister = raging infection
Sex? Be prepared!
Sure, there’s a connection. But you just met this person, muddy, half-naked, giddy on the goofballs, musically or otherwise.
Bring protection. BYOCondoms, lube, dams. It may seem like a free weekend on another planet, but you still have to go back to Earth, where pregnancy and STDs are real.
Anyone who’s put off by the idea of the constraints of latex or the word NO needs to exit the tent immediately. This is where knowing the name of your neighbours can really help. If you find yourself in an uncomfortable or scary situation, start yelling. The tent situation is usually so tight the bad guy/gal will leave out of shame. If not, keep yelling!
Groped? DON’T get over it.
You’ve got this fabulous device that can record that asshole, whoever he or she may be. If you can absolutely spot that person, turn that person in to the relevant authorities.
Internal festival rules constantly address how to address inappropriate behaviour, but there’s no pervert detector: report it.
Find more ways for solo female traveller safety here.
Rape: sex and you didn’t want it.
Sadly, this can happen at festivals. As soon as you feel safe, go straight to the safety tent. (Usually 24-hours, check your map) Don’t go alone; get a neighbour or your festival buddy to help you. Festivals may be permissive about freedom of expression, but they’re hard on sex crimes. The person who hurt you may have hurt other people.
Get ready, get set, and have fun!