Music festivals aren’t just the ideal environment for the hardest partying times of your life; they’re also a prime place for personal growth, finding your voice and forging important connections with people.
This year has been my most thrilling and fulfilling period of festing yet, primarily because of the principle guiding me through the 2018 season: the more effort you put into your festival experience, the more you get out of it. I’ve done more preparation ahead of the festivals, gotten far more creative with my outfits and gadgets, and significantly upped my social interaction. The lessons learned have elevated my festival game considerably.
Music festivals are an open range for creative expression
Festivals provide a stimulating space to let loose and explore creatively – through totem crafting, costume design, character/persona creation, live painting, photography, performance art, comedic delivery, music mixing, dance of all kinds and so many other avenues. Making festivals an artistic outlet for yourself will bolster your imagination and enjoyment within them, as well as your appreciation of what others bring to the table.
Adopt a gimmick, interact with anyone
It doesn’t take much to break through the social barrier in a crowd. Peacock with light-up wearables, wacky dance moves, a funny or impressive totem, things to share (like a hand fan to cool off, visual-enhancing glasses or other gadgets to pass around), or some sort of surprise (finger puppets, nostalgic reminders of childhood, small gifts, etc). Curious and impressed people will approach you when you stand out, and initiating conversations on your own with strangers becomes far easier.
Build a network of creative connections, opportunities will follow
Being outgoing and willing to engage at festivals has paid off in countless ways for me this year, from the buddy I made at Movement who then became my best friend in Denver when I moved there, to getting to know an editor of this site at Electric Forest and Imagine then starting to contribute to it. If you’re an artist you can build your following, sell your work and meet others with whom to collaborate. Talking with creators who found ways to transform their festival passion into a business – like making bedazzled capes, light-up fuzzy cloaks or infinity mirror totems – inspired my own entrepreneurial spirit as I realized it’s very possible to transform what you love doing in festival culture into a career opportunity.
Survey other festivalgoers
So much goes on at music festivals that you’re bound to miss a lot, so ask the people around you (especially while waiting in lines) for their memorable moments, coolest/funniest encounters and favorite sets/totems/costumes/art installations. This is how I discovered the wondrous interactive maze at Electric Forest this year, and spread joy to so many others by directing them to that hidden gem in similar conversations. Such questions also led me to secret sets and initiated more friendships.