Music festivals seem synonymous with drugs and debauchery. If you’re not going to let loose in what is essentially a weekend-long party with no real break, then when are you going to let loose?
But as plenty of people have found, you really don’t need to be high or drunk to enjoy a music festival. You just need an open mind, a love for music, and a few sober friends.
While the urge to drop any and all inhibitions during a music festival might be at an all-time high – not to speak of the peer pressure of seeing thousands of strangers imbibing in what’s sure to look like a good time, at first – there’s a lot of magic hidden in a music festival for those willing to hold out and stick to their sobriety.
Sex, Drugs, and Rock n’ Roll. Right?
The drug use at music festivals isn’t random. There’s a history and a culture to drugs and music. In a way, not joining can feel alienating at first – be it marijuana, heroin, cocaine, or ecstasy, every period in contemporary American music has had its fair share of illicit substances associated to it.
But there’s much more to music than drugs, to be sure. And music festivals are about much more than carnal indulgence – they’re about music, and the way you feel when engulfed and surrounded by the music you enjoy, played live, in a crowd of thousands who share your enthusiasm. It’s infectious in its own way and helps speak towards the real strongest reason for attending a music festival – for the unforgettable memories you’ll make on that magical trip.
The Memories, or Lack Thereof
There’s plenty to experience in a music festival. Plenty to see, and do, and of course, hear. While the music is one thing, there’s something amazing about the way people react to it. While we might not admit it, most of us love being in an ecstatic crowd – it pulls you in, and you feel united in your enjoyment, hundreds and thousands of perfect strangers (and, hopefully, a lot of friends) experiencing the same amazing vibes.
It’s common to see people having a few drinks while they’re dancing, or other substances. But people often go overboard. And that’s when the fun can quickly end, both for the person who overindulged and the friends who have to keep their friend safe. What could have been an incredible experience turns into a cautionary tale, often with no real recollection of the magic left.
Struggling to remember what happened – if there’s much left worth remembering – isn’t the only danger. There’s also the danger of just feeling sick, not agreeing with the substances taken, or getting plain ill. In the worst cases, your problems turn to death. For some, it’s hard to stop once they start – and there’s a considerable risk in trying to maintain a high for an entire festival.
There Will Be Temptation
There is a good chance you’ll have to spend some time convincing strangers (and, under certain circumstances, even friends) that you’re definitely better off sober, and don’t want what they’re offering. Caffeine and genuine enthusiasm are all you’re really going to need, and chances are people are going to suspect you’re on something anyway.
The good news is that, as you ignore the temptations, you start to feel more accomplished about your choice, and your ability to withstand these impulses.
Tips for Staying Sober
Sobriety at a music festival is far from impossible, and it can be a lot of fun. But you’re going to need to arm yourself with a few tips and tricks, particularly if you’re a newcomer to sobriety and need help staying sober.
If it’s your first time being completely clean at a music festival, get ready for a unique and new experience. Bring your friends, bring plenty of snacks and drinks, and bring a lot of patience – as fun as music festivals can be, there are plenty of things to get annoyed about, and it’s a bit harder to ignore them when you’re not tipsy or high.
#1.: Keep Your Friends Close By
Music festivals are much more fun with the right company – but it’s important to keep the right company. You don’t need to walk around with a sober-only posse, but make sure your friends understand your choice to stay sober and support it wholeheartedly.
But if they’re going to mock your sobriety, or make you feel bad for your choices, or even try to make you use something or drink, ditch them. Don’t go to music festivals with friends that don’t understand why you want to stay clean.
#2.: Enjoy the Music
Music festivals are about the music, and at the end of the day, the most fun you’ll be having revolves around being able to experience absolutely everything around you – from the bass in the floor, to the crowd, the visuals, the dancing, and more.
Note that, when you’re sober, some things can seem much more annoying. Bathroom lines can be long, people can be loud, and while some of your friends are probably funny when tipsy, there will be a large share of annoying drunks. Knowing to focus on the fun parts of the festival is important.
#3.: Stay Hydrated and Take Breaks
Music festivals are often physically daunting, and because you’re having such fun, it’s unlikely that you’ll notice just how much you’re going through. However, it’s much easier to tell how you’re feeling physically while sober. Always keep some water on you and know to take breaks when you need to.
From just tiring yourself out, to suffering from signs of hidden dehydration, there’s plenty that can happen in the hours spent dancing and having fun at a music festival.
While it’s sure to be an unforgettable experience, it’s important to stay safe. Music festivals have their fair share of health and security issues, and personal safety is everyone’s responsibility.