The summer of 2014 has been one of new experiences. Being the last summer of my 20s, I decided it was time to tick off some of the bucket-list. I went skydiving, visited Disneyland, walked a red carpet and last weekend (at the grand old age of 29), I attended Wilderness festival. My first ever 3 day music festival. Little did I realize I was about to discover something magical. Something that would restore some of my faith in humanity. It was here that I was to have my first taste of 'festival love'.
My flat mate and my preparation for the trip can best be described as non-existent. I had seen on Facebook that other people we knew were asking to borrow tents, sleeping bags, blow up beds, buying their costumes, torches, dry shampoo etc. Unfortunately, we are never that organized.
It wasn't until 11pm the day before that we actually started sorting anything. The scene in our house that night was one of pure comedy genius. We both scrambled around like chickens with our heads cut off, throwing bits and bobs into our bags (I still have no idea why I thought designer deck shoes were a good idea, but hey ho) and tried to make sure we had everything we were going to need for the weekend ahead.
Tent check, wellies check and ticket's check.... Lets do this.
We piled everything into Belinda (My Citreon C1) and off we went, like two naughty little school children. Music blaring and bursting with excitement we cruised down the M4 and arrived in high spirits.
It was shortly after our arrival that I had my first experience of 'festival love'.
We began to erect our tent and it very quickly became apparent that we had forgotten some vital equipment. No hammer, no pump for the air mattress, no cups for our rum and coke. I started to descend into panic.
Various festival goers in the surrounding campsite overheard our cries of horror. Before I knew what was happening, one group had offered us a mallet for our tent pegs, another had loaned us their pump for the air mattress and a couple near us generously handed over some plastic cups for our booze, simply saying "Share the festival love". A moment of kindness that took me aback. 'How lovely of them to help, what nice people' I thought as we tried to make our tent inhabitable.
It was a wonderful moment, and it most definitely wouldn't be the last I would see of 'festival love'.
We kicked off the Friday night in style and danced into the wee hours to some of our favorite bands, DJ's and some unknowns that were of incredible talent. People were friendly and happy to talk to you, even though they didn't know you from Adam. The whole place was just there to have a good time. It was fantastic.
At about 1am I had my second encounter with the wonderful 'festival love'. The weather had turned sour, and as always, I had come unprepared. Wearing nothing but a green tie died vest, I stood shivering and shaking in the icy winds. Then, out of nowhere, a complete random (I still don't know who he was) walked over to me and offered me his shirt. Literally....The shirt off his back. I stood there, open mouthed and asked, 'Are you sharing the festival love?' To which he simply replied, 'Of course'. I thanked him profusely and wore that shirt with pride.
Moments like this continued throughout the weekend. The sense of community between total strangers was one of complete unity.
But it was in the wee hours of Sunday morning that I really saw how great this 'festival love' was.
At about 4am on Sunday, Hurricane Bertha (the meteorological phenomenon which had been predicted to hit) HIT! The rain and the wind were completely out of control. I found myself scrambling through the campsite with new found friends Kate, Zach and Claire. Zach and Claire were camping on the other side of the field. Thinking it would pass soon, Kate told us to get to her tent to wait it out. We all piled in, covered in mud, grass, sweat, booze and immediately turned her tent into a bomb site. We all thanked her profusely and apologized for trashing the place. Laughing it off, she passed around some vodka and said, 'Oh Well, share the festival love'.
2 hours later it became apparent that Bertha was not going anywhere. All four of us, curled up, as best we could on the double blow up mattress and went to sleep.
We woke at lunchtime and Bertha had subsided, we said our goodbyes and parted ways, probably never to see each other again. But it was a genuine moment of kindness, shown by a stranger. Helping someone out because it was the nice thing to do. It's a moment I will remember for a very long time.
Yes there was amazing music, yes there were unbelievable djs, yes the food was incredible. But for me, what made my first festival so brilliant, were these moments of 'festival love'. The sense of community that seemed to flow through and unite everyone there. We were all having the same experience.
'Festival Love' made that weekend. It gave me a glimmer of hope that maybe our society isn't as far gone as we think it is. I think that maybe, if we all put a little bit of festival love back into our day to day lives, we might all be just a little bit happier.
It was my first festival, but safe to say it wont be my last. Only next time.....I'm getting a Winnebago!