Music Festival Etiquette
Music festivals are places where you can experience the most positive vibes, or the most negative. They’re places that can bring out the best in people and make you appreciate others but they’re also sites where you can see terrible behavior that makes you lose faith in others.
Positive action is the vehicle through which we can enact change and scale back negative perceptions that have become associated with the dance music scene in recent years. Regardless of what people think of them, music festivals provide abundant opportunities to connect with individuals you may never interact with in any other setting.
The essential thing we ask everybody to keep in mind is our concept of treating everyone with respect at all times. This means taking into consideration the experiences of others, not just yours, as everybody is entitled to a good time. So be mindful and don’t be a person that ruins someone else’s festival experience.
Here are a few guidelines to make the best of your upcoming music festivals and create a positive environment for electronic dance music.
Respect people’s bodies and boundariesThroughout my time at electronic music festivals, I’ve had men forcefully grabbing my head to try to kiss me and aggressively grope my friend’s chest. I’ve even come across drunk men that threatened to hit my and friends and me because we told them not to touch us. Not to mention the countless times that people have touched my ass or have said incredibly creepy things.
It’s not fair that for the half of festival attendees that identify as female, music festivals can often be hostile and intimidating due to constant harassment and unwanted advances. Women have come to accept this is as an inevitable part of their music festival experience and expect to confront this type of disrespectful, intimidating behavior on festival grounds. This isn’t what people want to experience when they pay to go to a music festival and it needs to stop.
Don’t touch people without their permission and don’t make any moves without asking if it’s okay first. Festivals are full of attractive people and it’s awesome to flirt with them and shack up; but you also don’t want to make someone uncomfortable or upset, especially when they’re at a festival. This applies to both men and women—once I kissed a guy without checking whether it’s okay and it turned out he had a girlfriend and seemed pretty upset.
Basic point: keep your hands to yourself, tell your friends to keep their hands to themselves, approach people respectfully and don’t say anything that would make your mother slap you if she heard it.
Be mindful when moving in crowded spacesMoving consists of anything from getting in and around stages to dancing. Space is often finite on festival grounds and we have to learn to share this space with everyone in the most pleasant way possible.
For starters, don’t aggressively force your way through a crowd by pushing down or bulldozing others around you. That’s how people get severely injured at events. Moving through huge crowds of people is a slow and painful process and you have to accept that as part of what you signed up for by going to a music festival. Recognize that sometimes you’ll have to make sacrifices when you’re in intense crowds, like having to arrive at a stage early to catch an important set or waiting to exit until the crowd disperses.
Nobody judges your dancing at a festival—DO YOU—but if your moves consist of flailing wildly or bouncing all over the place, try to find a more open and appropriate space to express yourself. Don’t do the most intense fist pump of your life in the middle of a crowd and end up punching somebody in the face.
Be considerate, don’t violently push others, allow people to pass and respect each other as much as possible within our limited but special festival space.
Do not abuse substancesIt’s an accepted fact that people ingest all types of substances at music festivals, which is why the many festival bathrooms look like an exorcism took place in them. Due to widespread substance use, drug abuse and overdose are also commonly seen at music festivals, which most likely accounts for much of the negative connotations plaguing the electronic dance music scene today.
Wanting to enhance your festival experience is fine, but excessively pushing your limits can have grave consequences for yourself and others. Consider the fact that substance abuse not only puts your own safety at risk but it negatively affects the experiences of those around you as well as the integrity of the entire festival.
The main reasons to go to a festival are the music, the dancing, the company, the production and the great experiences you’ll actually remember. Always put the utmost thought into your safety and the safety of others and teach yourself to enjoy the moment on your own, without substances, if possible.
Do at least one nice thing for someone at the festivalMy favorite festival moments always involve seeing individuals coming to the aid of others, such as when they share water or talk someone through an attack of negative vibes. These are the moments that expose how many sincere, caring and genuinely nice people there are in the world, who are willing to step up when needed.
If every person attending a festival did something nice for someone else while they’re there, the festival experience would become exponentially more gratifying for all attendees and encourage even more positive, prosocial behavior. Thus, the next time you go to a music festival, do at least one nice thing for someone, preferably a stranger, at the festival. Give someone a compliment, graciously let people walk through and offer help to people who appear to be struggling by getting water or medical attention.
Positive social change starts with you, the individual, and can be instigated anytime, anywhere. Take this message with you to any music festival, and have fun positively connecting with the people there.