All year round, thousands of young people go to music festivals all over Australia. They tend to have whimsical/edgy names like Falls Festival, or Splendour in the Grass, or Laneway, or Lost Paradise, or Beyond the Valley.
These people (who aren’t me) are far too cool to spend their weekends on the lounge eating snacks, or maybe getting a few drinks somewhere before getting McDonalds on the way home. Instead, these people spend special weekends with a big group of friends in some variation of a grassy field, fully immersing themselves in music, art, food and possibly yoga. They sleep in tents and shower in communal bathrooms – and they love every minute of it.
Because they are cool.
But I am not.
Last year I decided that perhaps I could also be cool. I bought tickets to Secret Garden – a festival so alternative they don’t even announce the location until that day – lest uncool people find out and ruin the coolness.
At Secret Garden you dress up. It’s not clear why, but you just do. You arrive on the Friday afternoon/evening, camp overnight, have a full day/night of festival-ing, camp AGAIN, and then go home on Sunday morning.
For cool people, it’s a breeze. But for people like me, for whom most things tend to go wrong, the festival quickly descended into a horror story that I had to bury in the depths of my soul, because crying about wanting to go home would be really, particularly uncool.
It started, like most things in my life, with a frantic rush. I left work a little early ("soz guys, off to a festival! Cool people only xxx"), and went home to pack for the weekend. "Jesus," I thought. "I'd kinda rather just spend the weekend chilling out like every other weekend." But then I remembered all the largely-ignored inspirational quotes that somehow make their way into my Instagram feed:
'Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.'
'Old ways won't open new doors.'
Okay so that last one means literally nothing but it's popped up more times than I can count.
Anyway, I decided it was too late and I had spent too much money to pull out. FYI: They are never good reasons to decide to do something.
So we started to drive. The drive was longer than expected and confusing. I'm not good at Google Maps at the best of times - let alone when I'm trying to find a secret festival that I'm pretty sure I don't want to go to.
When we arrived it was dark, which broke rule 101 of camping: set up your goddamn tent while there's still light. I've never set up a tent before, and I'm still fairly certain ours was missing a pole. But THANKFULLY a severely intoxicated man thought it would be super fun to try to help us with it. He knew significantly less about tents than I do, was holding a lightsaber, and when I say 'intoxicated' I mean the amount of substances he'd consumed left him with the mental capacity of a three-year-old, so he significantly slowed down our progress. Oh, and he wouldn't leave. No matter how many times we asked him to. People at festivals are sooo fun.
When our tent was
set up good enough we headed into the actual festival. Straight away I realised the three-year-old who helped us with our tent was pretty much Stephen Hawking compared to the majority of people there. I attended a fake wedding that people seemed to think was real. The toilet was covered in grossness I won't even try to describe. When I went to the bathroom someone BROKE THE DOOR to come in.
Hours later my feet were dirty, I had spent an obscene amount of money on alcohol, and the very zen 'chill out' areas were just full of people sleeping, so I decided it was time for bed.
But...our tent...was...wet. Because the ground was wet. Because of course the ground was wet, because that's why hundreds of years ago humans decided sleeping on the ground was kinda shitty and designed the 'bed.'
Even if our tent had been a three story house, however, I still wouldn't have slept that night. Because the group behind us was playing the loudest music I've ever heard in my entire life. Why would people need sleep? It's not as though they were LITERALLY ALL GOING TO A FESTIVAL THE NEXT DAY.
After no sleep and the realisation there was nowhere to shower or brush our teeth, my two friends and I just straight up cheated. We drove home for a nap and a shower and food. "This time," we thought, "we'll do it right."
Here are a list of thoughts I had over the next 24 hours:
"Do we...have to go back? You know what's fun? Home."
"I'm dressing up as Khaleesi because even if I don't have fun at least I can make it look like I did."
"Seriously...we can just not go back and pretend we did."
"Oh God we're back again."
"Wow, that person quite clearly stashed drugs in her vagina and then went to the bathroom to get them out."
"What am I doing?"
"What am I meant to be doing?"
"I think that person peed themselves."
"It's no wonder people do drugs when drinks are legit like $12."
"How can someone's makeup be that good when they're camping? Did they cheat too?"
"Stop talking to me."
"Stop touching me."
"It's too hot."
"Where's the 'fun'?"
"I literally don't know the names of any of these songs."
"How can someone do that to a bathroom and still be conscious?"
"My phone's running out of battery which is terrifying because there are no powerpoints and we're in the middle of nowhere."
"If I called my mum would she pick me up and not tell anyone?"
That night, I slept in the car. It was less wet than the tent, and no one was blaring loud music for absolutely no reason. Of course, on my way to the car, I was yelled at by a lot of people, because drunk people at festivals tend to do a lot of yelling. I think people were also having sex in the car park.
Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) I'll never be cool enough for music festivals. Drinking during the day gives me a headache and people who are:
a) drunker than any human I've ever witnessed, or
b) doped up on drugs that have been hidden in vaginas or buttholes
make for the worst company ever.
So if you're the type to attend music festivals, I salute you. You are infinitely cooler than me - and I'm more than happy for you to hold that title.