This weekend, I went to my first Bonnaroo. I learned a little bit about crunchy Bonnaroovian values, a philosophy fueled by group hugs and high-fives, and promptly rejected the notion. I saw a number of legitimately wonderful music acts, ate many fried foods and a huge Oreo creampuff from Puffs of Doom, and managed to avoid a sunburn. I heard the unabridged life story of roughly a dozen locals in Tennessee, took my first selfie in front of a porta-potty, and made a pancake out of a machine. So, in summary, there were tangible life gains and lessons learned. Here are five of them, for your consideration:
1. You will experience body shame/body pride in equal measure. Topless girls in tutus doing pirouettes. Lithe humans whose midriffs make you remember a time when you didn't have a taco dependency and went to the gym regularly and could run without feeling brittle enough to shatter onto the sidewalk. These are the feelings you will have at a music festival. You will alternate between this, and wild gratitude for your lack of back fat.
2. Drugs are largely unnecessary if you have tequila. I am not a drug person. I can have a single puff of a joint and descend into nail-biting paranoia and tenderly touching my own face in public. In place of pills, I have the agave plant. Maestro Dobel, a heady mix of reposado, añejo, and extra-añejo tequila, had a piano-flanked tent set up in the artist's lounge I returned to regularly, as if on a timer. Post show (or pre-show, for that matter), there is nothing like a cold margarita made with great tequila to psychologically prepare you for a live show. On a related-note, I giddily ran under a technicolor parachute like a child who'd consumed too many Pixie sticks. So, keep your molly water. I'll stick to the tequila.
3. Each day gets progressively smellier. Because I am an immature woman-child, I chafe when everyone in my immediate vicinity vaguely smells of feces. Or because I relish the process of showering...indoors. Someone asked me if I'd be camping at Bonnaroo and I laughed because I am not about that life. I am weak and need expensive body washes and massaging shower heads before I brave the world. Everyone has their vices; back off me, bruh.
4. Being short is a great disadvantage at a music festival. In general, being 5'2 is a rewarding experience. It widens your dating pool, as you consider those 5'5 and above to be tall. People assume you're younger than you are. People call you small even if you have a midsection as soft as a cinnamon roll. But at Bonnaroo, faced with vast fields of people of varying heights, many towering over you, you recognize your diminutive stature as the handicap it is. During Frank Ocean's set, I unapologetically anchored myself with a tall man on each side, standing on my tippy toes to stare adoringly at him during his transcendentally mellow performance. But for the majority of the shows, I was springing into the air by means of sheer will, hoping to catch a glimpse of the artist's face. This wasn't fun. Next time, I will bring a stool.
5. Kanye's "rants" can double as therapy. Kanye’s self-inflated diatribes rub some people the wrong way, and I understand why. Who is he to believe in himself while we struggle under the weight of insecurities? Who is he to be unmoved by the haters when we’re plagued by self-doubt?
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