1. Pulling an all-nighter on the first night
As you turn up to the festival, giddy and gin-ready, your fine array of intoxicants look irresistibly beautiful, and in your mind your backpack of Glenn’s Vodka, poor quality drugs and ill advised purchased salvia from the first stand you saw, unfolds like a Hunter S Thompson car boot. You gurgle and gobble and wander the field and becoming carried away you decide to stay up the entire first night in celebration. Chatting loudly and keeping all your new neighbours awake, you end up sleep deprived and wrecked making the next day a total write off. Sleeping through the support and having a hangover through the headline isn’t ever ideal, and if you think you can catch up the rest of the weekend you are sorely mistaken.
2. Fear of Strangers
Ma and Pa hand you your fresh pair of wellies and a tube of anti-bacterial hand gel and wave you off with a faint whiff of pungent rubber and hospital corridors. They share concerned looks but all they hope is that they have raised you right, you’ve listened to their years of wisdom and after all they know you have ‘a good head on your shoulders.’ Well, fuck that, they’re wrong and your head will get so addled over the next few days that your shoulders are likely to attempt some form of self-decollation. Festival rules are simply that all childhood rules do not apply. You MUST accept gifts from strangers and bearded men ARE more trustworthy. Don’t turn down offers to help you with your tent, to share a dubious looking beverage or shots at the bar from a man dressed as a giraffe. Festivals are best for meeting interesting people and fear of them will make for a considerably more boring weekend. Even if their intentions are terrible, anecdotally you will be in a far better position than listening to your friend tell you for the fifth time this weekend how lightheaded cigarettes make her. That being said...
3. Acceptance of the great unknown
If you choose to take drugs at a festival it is always best to make sure you know what you’re doing. The time to first take something you had always been suspicious about is probably not whilst surrounded by 200,000 strangers and your only memory of where you camped is that you’re 90% sure your tent was blue. Also awful is the broad array of ‘ACME’ drugs you’ve never even heard of which the adventurer in you enthusiastically swallows. If you have no desire to pass out on the exit from the main arena, or spend four hours in a panicked state because you are pretty sure you are in charge of all the rhombuses in the world and suddenly the pressure is getting too much for you, then it is best to stick with what you know.
4. Granny Trolleys
Teenagers are pretty fucking smug, but there is one of their self-satisfied platoon that I relish in seeing. The ones who wrongly believe that they have nailed the tedious task of ‘lugging one’s shit’ with their plaid granny trolley normally more accustomed to the task of transporting nana’s sausage rolls. Whilst you’re sorted on the pavement, how much fun is it when you’re pulling it through a foot of mud as the mental hinges break under the crushing weight of your disappointment? Next rank is the sled, considerably more useful but if you have ever seen the sight of someone mid-swamp holding a broken rope and now completely devoid of strategy, you may well want to avoid it. Getting onto your campsite is always going to be a back-breaking ball ache but - if you can - beg, borrow or steal a hiking backpack. You will feel like an admiral, riding like a champion across a sea of weak-limbed teenage tears.
5. 50 cans of cider, one t-shirt and a bog roll
At a conservative rate of one cider an hour and bed by midnight, you are looking at about 50 cans to lug with you. Realistically you’re going to be chucking down spirits, lager, cider and soon-regretted cartons of table wine from breakfast until the wee hours, which will take the total to nearer 150. This is not an error first timers, but if you are not of age to buy booze or have about £20 (and a determination to still buy a Giant Yorkshire Pudding) you will make the error of trying to carry this all with you. Have you ever tried to carry 150 cans of lager? You are not strong child. You are probably calcium deficient. Not having enough booze is a huge tactical mistake but you will need to borrow money/ask a friendly stranger and just suck it up and buy some there. And certainly if not you need to work out the most volume-efficient way to get pissed that doesn’t force you to break your back and ruin your weekend. Gin and lime cordial comes up trumps in volume efficiency. Even though it does taste like a Victorian prostitute has weed in your mouth.
6. Sunday Shag
It is unsurprising that with over 100,000 people normally between the ages of 20 and 30 and where drunks girls dressed like a back alley Pocahontas sashay around talking to strangers, that genitals are going to interlock. Night one god speed, shag shag shag. Night two, quick baby wipe and you’re good to go. Day three, your only item of clothing left is a tiger onesie you found outside a portaloo, and having sex with a man feels as clean as performing oral sex on a gutter. Regret has never been so sweaty and covered in tent dew. If you can’t tell whether the girl you just met is really tanned or really muddy, you should ask whether it takes the edge off it. On Sunday the only grinding you should be doing is before sparking up at the stone circle.
7. “I’ll wee after they play my favourite song”
This one is for the ladies as we are yet to evolve an ‘all-organic-urine-funnel’. Drinking a bladder’s worth of liquid every twenty minutes is not conducive to standing around at hour long sets, and the time that you absolutely don’t want to realise that you need a wee is when you actually need a wee. At that moment you will need to disentangle yourself from the maze of fans between you and the back of the field, trudge half a mile through people’s tent poles to find a portaloo, and then when you finally get there fit to burst you will see a queue of twenty women who take inexplicably long in the satan pit of sanitation. Look around that set and you will see thirty year olds saying to one another, “Right, I best go. I think I’m going to need a wee in about half an hour.” They know.
8. ‘Hey guys...do you want a pill? It’s a bargain at £40!’
One imagines that if you’re a drug dealer at a festival, it is a goldmine of eager young teenagers with zero idea as to market rates who would wilfully believe anything a man with long hair tells them. If you buy drugs at a festival, you are going to end up paying about £30 for a crumb of dried vegetation that smells of quiche, or something from a herbal high shop that strangely appears to have no effect. Just as one should ask why seemingly easygoing hippies are spending their weekend selling teenagers reasonably priced drugs, one should also ask before purchasing something in a dodgy coloured gazebo why the alarmingly named ‘Mind Destroying Natural High’ has seemingly entirely missed out on any legislative process.
9. Tasselled suede boots
It might not surprise you to know that the window display of River Island and Topshop, filled with its mannequins wearing a Native American Headdress and white fake fur underwear, is not an accurate depiction of festival habitation. If you go on a ‘pre-festival shop’ you are going to end up in a woolen playsuit you can’t wear in any conceivable toilet-going scenario that gets ruined within the first hour. It’s not that I want to crush the creative spirit you’re pretending you didn’t steal from Coachella; I just hate seeing such sweatshop labour go to waste. If your sunglasses cost more than your pint you are going to get sad when they get crushed under a teenager’s wellies as you jump up and down to a mid-noughties indie band. Look nice of course, (remember these are prime pulling pastures) but if you might be sad when they get lost/ruined/stolen by a drag queen called Graham, then it is best to leave it at home.
10. Trying to see it all
Although this may work at smaller festivals, the attempt to see every single band you’ve ever heard of because you are desperate to get your money’s worth, means that by the final day of the fest you can no longer feel your legs, your feet look like a blister filled peak district and you end up passed out in front of the main stage until your friends start talking about driving home, having missed the whole day. If you look at a clashfinder and are trying to work out the distances between the two stages to try and dash mid-set, you are going to miss out on the best of both. Choose your must-sees of the weekend, and then try and chill your boots. The best parts of the festivals is truly enjoying your favourites and discovering new music and events, and if you’ve created yourself an itinerary worthy of a Duke of Edinburgh award, you will probably do neither.