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How to not be a dickhead at music festivals

Written by
Claire Finneran

Summer festival season is all about enjoying yourself outdoors and letting loose with your mates. Here’s how to do it without being a knob.

1. Be a person of substance

Drugs and alcohol are the sustenance of choice at music festivals, let’s be honest. But, use your noggin when attempting to guzzle either in a public forum. Research your legal rights up the wazoo before you enter festival season, police and sniffer dogs are always present and never not-watching, and there are a lot of ways you can avoid being harangued without breaking the law. And, of course, drug-related deaths at festivals are real and you should exercise utmost care for yourself and those around you. Don’t be afraid to go to a medical tent if you have to and be honest, they’re there to help you – not to dob on you. Being responsible is easy if you binge on Brown Cardigan videos before you get festival festy: the cautionary AV library of our time is perfect for demonstrating what you actually look like when, say, you’re vertically flapping around in the mud or drunkenly mashing an ice cream into your face. Remember, everyone’s phone has a camera on it.

"Yeeeeah we're da mud boiz, mud boys 5evaaa"

2. Stress about your dress  

For many, music festivals are the perfect opportunity to wear something wacky and ostentatious. Fine. What isn’t fine, in this year of our lord 2018, is wearing traditional costuming from a culture that isn’t yours. First Nations people have been politely pleading with you to not wear that dollar store ‘Native American headdress’ for yonks and yet, year-after-year, packs of drongos will fist pump through the crowd with their beefy heads adorned with a warbonnet of resplendent feathers they didn’t earn. Scrutinise your outfit harder. Have a squint and really think about the social implications of that ‘rave kimono with embroidered parasol’ you’re about to party in – you’re probably offending someone. See also: blackface, bindis, hula skirts, kufi caps and an entire history of traditional dress that isn’t yours. Use Google, stick to animal onesies, or just wear denim shorts and a top.

3. It’s nobody’s body but mine

Music festivals are crowded. You’re literally paying to share experience with hordes of other people, which can be lovely, unifying even. Get right into the ‘we are all people on this planet singing together en masse nothing can harm us’ attitude by all means – just do it without touching anyone else. Of course, there’s room for the odd embrace of a stranger when you discover that you both know the same lyrics, that’s some sweet consensual shoulder clamping, that stuff is as old as time. There is, however, a whole bevy of handsy no-nos that go on in these situations. Does that person who is shorter than me want to be lifted? Should probably ask first, mate. Is it alright to lightly caress someone in a crowd if they might not notice it is me? No, never. Are you a ghost? They’re definitely going to know it was you, you aren’t invisible and yuck, keep your filthy mitts to yourself. Just basically don’t touch anyone’s body that isn’t yours unless they explicitly say you can. And, look out for each other – check others around you are OK and don’t be afraid to say something if someone isn’t.

This is some very clear 'please don't lift me' body language

4. Be excellent to each other

It might be too late, you may already be a dickhead and after years of growing into your personality it’s likely you aren’t going to change. But, even the most narcissistic of psychopaths knows how to pass as good people by using the following social strategies. If you bash into someone say “excuse me”. If you’re ordering a matcha slushee from a green food truck say “please”. If you’re being directed by festival staff to stop trying to kick down a port-a-potty, stop. Invoke the ‘ol national park slogan of “leave only footprints behind” and be mindful of your rubbish. Don’t watch a band’s entire set through your phone screen obscuring the view of someone behind you (you’re never going to watch that scrappy footage anyway). Minimise your compulsion to scream a thunderous “YEWWWW” when there are quiet moments. Punch only cones, and hit only bongs. Even Patrick Bateman knew how to act excellently in public. Be kind, festivalgoers.

Can't wait to show this centred smudge to my grandchildren

Flaunt your new non-dickheadness at the best clubs in Sydney.

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