How I Became a Music Festival Believer
In the summer, thousands upon thousands of people flock to deserts, forests and even farmlands to revel in dance, electronic music and the unwashed masses. If you’re anything like I was, you scoff at them.
I used to think that music festivalgoers were sheeple, going to these strange events because it’s the cool thing to do (and to up their Instagram game, obvi). I thought EDM was just noise and that people only liked it because whatever drugs they were on made it sound better.
And then everything changed.
Last month, my boyfriend persuaded me to tag along to a camping music festival in Okeechobee, Fla. Because it was spring break and because rock n’ roll legend Robert Plant was on the lineup, I consented.
I was prepared for the worst: annoying raver girls pushing me around, drugged out stoners acting dumb and head-pounding bass keeping me up all night. Instead, I experienced amazing musical acts, beautiful artwork and a sense of community like I’ve never felt before. Sure, there were plenty of raver girls and stoners, but they only added to the delightful bizarreness of the entire weekend.
Every person I interacted with improved my opinion of the music festival experience. There were hippies handing out flowers, random people offering free hugs and dancing machines getting the crowd to clap along. If it were anywhere besides a music festival, I’d cast a wide berth around these folks, but instead, I stuck the flowers in my hair, spread my arms wide and clapped more vigorously than Leo fans when he finally won an Oscar.
There’s just something about music festivals that allow you to embrace your inner weirdo. Maybe it’s because there are far stranger people there with you, or because cell service sucks so people aren’t glued to their devices. Regardless, festivals just seem to be a judgment-free zone, a place where you can make sand angels by the lake, spit fire slam poetry or dance like a maniac armed with a hula-hoop.
And then there’s the music. I grew up on rock n’ roll and country music, so EDM was always a hard sell for me. However, when you’re standing outside with a crowd of people, there’s something truly magical about everyone grooving to the same rhythm. It’s almost uncontrollable. And, not to be cliché, but when the beat drops, you feel it.
I think one of the biggest keys to my change of heart, though, was that my first festival experience was so positive. I’m sure if I went with the wrong group of people, didn’t pack the right stuff or came in with a bad attitude toward using port-a-potties and not showering for three days, I’d still be a festival naysayer. Instead, I was with friends (old and new) who went with the flow to ensure everyone was having a good time.
I also have to give major props to Okeechobee Music Festival for being so awesome, even in its first year of existence. The people behind the event put in so much effort to make everything run so smoothly. If you didn’t get the chance to #EnterThePortal to ‘chobee this year, I highly suggest you check it out in 2017. From the psychedelic art installations, to the beachside stage to the beautifully designed layout of the lands, everything was spot on.
So if your festival junkie BFF invites you to go to a festival this summer, go. You never know what you’ll learn about music, mankind and finally, yourself.
Keep scrolling to see more images from Okeechobee Fest and be sure to let us know in the comments section about your favorite festival memory!
Photography c/o Okeechobee Music & Arts Festival