Article by: Corey Fox
In the lost lands of dystopian festival chaos, it is enticingly easy to get overwhelmed with the sorcery. The enigmatic enchantments, the oscillating sound systems, and the magnanimous visual displays can send even the most pretentious of adults into a child-like stupor. These are some of the crucial moments where pocket predators see a golden opportunity.
“Pickpockets” have seemingly infiltrated the festival scene on a level I have never seen before. What used to be a care-free journey of crowded pavilions and lengthy treks between stages, has devolved into a constant internal mantra of “Phone, Wallet, Keys.” Almost obsessively, I have felt the need to tap my pockets to ensure my belongings are still on my person and safeguarded inside the venue.
Back in October of 2019 at Insomniac’s Escape: Psycho Circus festival at the NOS Events Center in San Bernardino, California, I witnessed first-hand just how emboldened these petty thieves operate. Coteries of ne’er-do-wells, exploiting your attention span with a sleight of hand and a single twist of fate; you are undoubtedly being hunted. The hunters could be an opportunistic consortium of petty thieves working alone, but worse yet, they are likely rabid packs of anti-PLUR profiteers.
These ravers in sheep’s clothing blend in with our faithful parishioners; sacrilegiously decorated in kandi bracelets, elaborate perlers, and Insomniac sweatshirts. Adorned in a raver’s uniform, the pickpockets work undercover in a cunning disguise for their tradecraft. They aim to blend in -- act the part if you will -- as con-men and con-women, and they are all armed with a slew of sneaky tactics to draw your attention elsewhere, as they swipe your precious valuables.
There are many types of pick-pocketers to be aware of. Some insist on snatching your phone out of your hand while you dance, or grabbing it right out of your pocket while your eyes are fixated on the main stage. Others work in clusters; filming your every move while you wait in line to buy a beer from the concession stand, or snapchatting your every step on social media channels as you nonchalantly reach into your pocket to pay. You are essentially advertising to their network of brazen criminals the PRECISE location where you are hiding your currency. That snapchat video will most likely be shared in a group chat amongst their nefarious band of burglars, as they plot their next attack. In some cases, you’ll even be pursued for the remainder of the evening.
The first rule of thumb should be obvious: Never put a phone in your back pocket!
I cannot stress this enough!
Your back pocket, with an iPhone cresting ever-so-slighty over the seam is a guaranteed, VIP invitation to steal your property at a crowded event. For starters, you won’t even feel it being taken, and by the time you even realize that it’s gone, so is the swindler; off into the night, disappearing into the labyrinthine crowd like a shadow casted into incandescent sunlight. If you’ve ever wondered why your ass gets slapped 30 times at a festival, it’s not because everyone thinks you’re sexy. They’re checking your back pockets for hidden treasure.
Second rule of thumb: Avoid putting valuables into the front pockets of your standard hydro-pack.
You are not going to feel an intruder as they open up these zippers while standing in a crowd of thousands. It also doesn’t help to wear your hydration bag like a backpack. You could always flip it around and wear it on your chest for added protective measure.
And with that being said, you are in luck my friends. There are multiple ways you can lower the risk of theft!
Option #1: Wear a Fanny Pack.
Yeah I said it.
Sure you’ll feel like a dumbass, and you might even feel like an extra from a John Hughes film, but at least you can keep your belongings close to the hip. It’s easier to monitor your phone and wallet when it’s strapped across your ribcage within reach. And I assure you, you’ll fit right in amongst the other ravers, since most of us prefer to dress retro.
If you’re feeling a bit more stylish, you could even invest in a cross-body bag, made by streetwear brands like Official or Supreme. They’ll sit higher on your chest to make it easier to catch wandering hands prying into your kangaroo pouch. No one ever said you had to wear it across your hips!
Option #2: Invest in an Anti-Theft Backpack.
Although they can be expensive, an anti-theft backpack could take away the worrisome headache over your prized possessions through the marathon of a three day event. Made with anti-slash materials and pockets with hidden zippers, you can’t put a price on peace of mind -- knowing your property will return home with you at the end of the show is quite literally, priceless.
One of the mainstay companies in the festival gear realm is GenZ, a company consisting of outdoor enthusiasts, party people, and endurance athletes. Its popular RaveRunner hydration pack comes with inverted zippers that only the wearer can access and is manufactured with slash-proof ripstop nylon to prevent concealed carriers from cutting your pockets open. They also provide customizable options to differentiate the RaveRunner from your typical CamelBak.
Option #3: Only bring the bare essentials.
This seems like common knowledge, and it is, but it doesn’t hurt to reiterate. All of the ravers I know always seem to pack for the weekend like they’re backpacking Europe for the summer. Suitcases full of cosplay outfits, Night Bass hoodies and homemade kandi perlers galore.
“But what if it gets cold?” You say to yourself.
Sifting through a weekend bag full of Space Yacht long-sleeve shirts, six feet deep...
I suppose you can never be too prepared when dealing with the elements. Whether it be the dry, sweltering heat of the Las Vegas desert, or the overcast rain clouds hovering ominously in Belgium for the duration of Tomorrowland, it’s important to have a collection of practicalities. And with festivals seemingly scheduled to return in 2021, we understand it’s important to have your survival gear. But when it comes to being at the venue, you’ll only need a few provisions once you’ve left the Airbnb.
Let’s be honest. Even when all of the luggage is packed and your overnight bags are full, you will still say to yourself ten miles down the road...
“I forgot my Doc Martins!”
But at least you left the venue with your precious goods in possession.