I was 21 years old when I went to my first music festival.
A sea of beautiful, dancing bodies became my home for 3 days. I was immediately consumed by electric waves of entrancing melodies, and I couldn’t help but think that this is how society is supposed to be.
I only found out about Bonnaroo 2 days before, and decided on a whim that I would take the trek all the way from College Park, Maryland, to Tennessee to work for a random sunglass hut with my boyfriend and our friend and attend the festival for free.
A twelve-hour car ride later, and I was sitting on the very top of a Ferris wheel, listening to Frank Ocean and watching blue fireworks explode in the same sky I was dangling in, atop an absolute dream world. This was the moment my boyfriend first told me he was in love with me.
I fell in love with it all: the energy floating in the atmosphere that covered this outdoor oasis, the artists and performers whose songs are still playing vividly in my mind, narrating my existence, the one who took this spontaneous journey with me for the thrill of it.
Experiencing a music festival is an entirely different universe from attending a concert. When those golden gates swing open in the very beginning of a festival, thousands of pairs of legs from all walks of life begin a unified journey through the unknown.
Your senses are awakened and revitalized, everything is new: music comes from all different angles, and you run to it, hoping you will become a part of its energy. You dance like nobody’s watching with people you’ve never met before.
In a festival, anything goes. Even with police and security, people express themselves freely without any fear of punishment. I’ve seen mothers, completely covered in tattoos, walking around completely naked with their kids riding on their shoulders as they walk up to a pop-up ice cream stand. I love it.
Nobody gets in trouble for pettiness because there isn’t anybody complaining. It’s as if there is a universal agreement, if only for a few days, that every single person in attendance would rather enjoy their life than see others not enjoy theirs.
I don’t think that’s because festivals only attract liberals and hippies. I’ve met producers, doctors, and business executives at festivals that initially don’t seem to have any place at a three-day, outdoor camping trip. In fact, I think music festivals attract people from all walks of life for a very certain reason: everyone wants to escape from reality and explore the wanderlust.
When you’re in a festival, you just seem to let go of the stresses that life throws at you on a daily basis.
It’s all a part of who I have become today. And still, each time I go to a music festival, I only fall deeper in love.