By: Alyssa Tejada
Recently I attended HARD Summer music festival in Fontana, CA with a group of friends and it was the first experience at a music festival for two of them! It was unique and exciting for me to be apart of their first experience! Nothing beats the feeling and memories of your first festival, unless it wasn't a great experience. So whether your wide-eyed friend is attending Lost Lands, Escape, Ultra or just a local event, here are some tips to make sure they leave those gates saying, "okay, so when's our next event?"
1.) Introduce them to the music and artists that will be playing.
Start with artists that might cross intro genres of music they already like. For example, if your friends are into alternate rock or punk, I usually recommend them to listen to Kayzo or Decadon. Maybe your friend likes some pop music hits produced by David Guetta or Martin Garrix, so show them some more songs by them or point them to Zedd, The Chainsmokers, or maybe even Marshmello. If they're a metal head, they might enjoy some Sullivan King shredding away on his guitar and screaming over some dubstep. For your chill reggae friend, point them to Ganja White Knight, the Ragga Twins, or maybe even some of Major Lazer's upbeat Moombahton.
2.) This should be pretty standard amongst friends, but don't pressure them into anything they don't feel comfortable doing.
Whether it's being in the middle of the crowds of sweaty headbangers or wearing something that maybe reveals a bit more than they're willing to, their comfort and safety is key to ensuring they'll enjoy the experience and be open to all the festival life has to offer. Let them choose, and they'll be a lot more receptive.
3.) Make them their first Kandi, and show them how to PLUR trade.
Even if they don't yet understand the tradition, they'll appreciate the gesture. Even better, you can make kandi with them before the show; it's a fun experience. My personal favorite is surprising them during the fest with a Kandi that means something to you both and seeing their eyes light up. Teach them the trade hand signs of Peace, Love, Unity, and Respect as well as the meaning behind it. The new ravers are the future of our community so we must show them the importance of keeping PLUR alive and well!
4.) Have a plan, and a backup plan. This goes for new festival goers as well as old.
Sure, you can dive headfirst into the festival and wander from stage to stage as some enjoy, but a plan for where your group is going makes it easier for the night to progress smoothly. And most importantly, it includes a clear, definite meet up spot in case any of you get split up. I've met a lot of semi-frantic ravers who when asked who they came with, respond along the lines of "I don’t know, I came with my friends," but they "got lost," "ditched me" or "we split up." A lot of these times they are not sure if they'll find them again. Some ravers are totally okay with that, but for your freshie friend, they might be a little overwhelmed and panic because they can't get a hold of you.
5.) Be their rave mom or dad for the night (or have a trustworthy friend do it.)
Make sure they're getting enough water before, after and during the fest. Encourage them to eat beforehand because they probably won't be hungry afterwards and you need energy to sustain yourself for a whole day of raving. Check up on how they're doing, which artists they are enjoying and if they need to take a breather and go sit down somewhere with somebody. Always go to the restroom in pairs and know where to meet back up with the group.
6.) Give them the full experience!
This can include introducing them to light shows, giving them kaleidoscope glasses, hand fans, time on the rail (if they want it), that famous festival lemonade, ferris wheel rides, and OF COURSE, lots of pictures so they can never forget their first rave experience-- with you!