God bless America. First, we invented dance music. Then, we pretended it didn't exist for 30 years. And then, we force-fed the whole world the most redundant, artless, soul-crushing appropriation of it anyone could have possibly come up with. That's more or less the American dream wrapped up in a nutshell.
The United States is, undoubtedly, a land of extremes, home to some of the best and worst festivals in the world. Sometimes, amidst all the fast times and flashing lights, it's hard to tell the difference between totally sick bro and does this actually kinda suck, bro? As a friendly reminder and guide, here are 10 things I hate about festivals in America.
10. Stupid Headgear
To those in flower crowns, I have a message for you on behalf of the dance community: you are not a pretty woodland princess. You are basic. Stop. Dickheads in Indian headdresses seem to be unable to read the internet as well as lacking basic common sense, empathy, taste, critical thinking—basically all of that frontal lobe shit. Being racist by mistake is pretty much as bad as being racist on purpose.
9. Fake Gourmet Food
Nope, those aren't "rock salt pommes frites with a garnish of tomato-sardine foam"—those are soggy french fries with expired ketchup. And that "wagyu beef wrap" is a cold burrito that's been sitting in the freezer since last year's fest. Alternately, you could pay $200 for the exclusive VIP dinner, and feast upon some "bâtonnet de poisson" cooked up by a chef from the local Denny's.
It used to be that you went to one, maybe two, festivals a year. They were massive productions, life cornerstones, something to look forward to! Nowadays, everyone and their mom's marketing agency has a festival. Wet Wipes Presents: Soggy Bottom Saturday. Electric Daisy Cornival: Brought To You By The Nebraska Tourism Board. Sadly, each one is a little shittier than the last, and that bacterial jamboree accumulating on your wrist may bring about future plague.
7. Faux Accountability
It's all the rage now to add stuff like yoga and recycling to a festival's itinerary, even if the fest actually gives absolutely no shits whatsoever about the earth or spirituality or even calisthenics. Notions like "leave no trace (unless you're wasted and don't want to)," and "treat others how you'd like to be treated (if you generally distrust everyone)" are not doing anybody any good.
6. Ooah Ooahs
Picture this: It's a beautiful, sunny day, and you're surrounded by a crowd that's positively glowing with good energy. Your favorite DJ just dropped that track you heard out once and fell in love with but never ID'd. It's bliss! Then, some fist-pumping fuckwad wearing cargo shorts and a polo shirt starts hooting that abhorrent "ooah ooah" chant, inciting a primal douchebag call-and-response that's a magnet for every half-lobotomized dingleberry within earshot. It's vibe kryptonite. The worst!
5. This Guy
Fuck this guy.
Cross a redneck, a crust punk, and a Phish fanatic, roll them around in their own filth and discount patchouli for a decade, stuff their pockets full of shitty weed, and stick a couple pins in their hat. Then, convince them that their incoherent babbling is poetry, toothbrushes are evil, and that personal space is something to be challenged, not observed. You've made a wookie! Oops.
3. Booze Fascism
It's easier to buy a gun in America than it is to buy a beer at a festival. First, you gotta fill out a psychological profile and pass a written exam to obtain a state and federal drinking license; then, you have to shuffle through the "trail of beers" herd, approach with exact change, and ask the bartender very, very nicely in three languages to put in an application for your $12 Heineken Light. And they wonder why so many people take drugs!
2. Police State
Nothing says "It's time to have fun!" like a snarling German Shepherd nose-probing your genitals while some neanderthal with a machine gun glares you up and down. It's almost as fun as the insult of an "amnesty box." Personally I always make sure my drugs are firmly lodged up my keister by the time I'm in eyeshot of the entry gate. If I'm going down, at least you're gonna get stinkfinger out of it, officer.
Can everybody stop fucking dying please? You're supposed to be having fun, and dying is probably the least fun thing ever. But if you adhere to at least two of the following pieces of advice, I can guarantee your survival. Drink some water. Go to the medical tent if you feel wonky. Pay attention to your signals your body is giving you, and signals from the people around you. Take breaks. Test your drugs before you rave. Consider that substances are meant to augment the party, not the other way around. And always, read THUMP's Guide to Raving Safely.
Jemayel Khawaja is THUMP's Managing Editor - @JemayelK
Photo 10 via Jason Sheldon for Daily Beast // Photo 8 via Twitter // Photo 7 via TheMeatCase Flickr // Photo 3 via SyrupTrap // Photo 2 via OccupyStories // Photo 1 via ABC // Header image by Instagram/RUDGR // All other photos via THUMP.