Identity

Guys at Glastonbury Explain Why They Carry Girls on Their Shoulders

At any music festival, some dude with a woman on his shoulders will inevitably block your view of the stage. We ask men: Seriously? Why?

by Alice Zoo and Zing Tsjeng
Jun 29 2016, 1:00pm

All photos by Alice Zoo

Maybe it happened when you found a prime spot for Drake at Coachella. Or perhaps right after you nabbed an amazing place in the crowd for Cyndi Lauper at Glastonbury this year. But whether you're high on acid, K, Ecstasy, shrooms, 2CB, or just plain old-fashioned excitement, one thing will always happen at a music festival: Your view will be blocked by a tall, strapping lad with a girl on his shoulders. It happens at festivals everywhere from Vegas to Zagreb. It can turn your unblocked view of the stage into a closeup of a girl's denim hot pants-clad ass. It is the scourge of women and men of short stature everywhere.

Do these guys realize what they're doing, or do they just not care? Is this a deeper comment on masculinity ("I am man, see me carry") and how it expresses itself at thumping, bass-heavy festivals around the world? Or are taller men simply inured to the desires of smaller humans who may wish, for once, to enjoy live music without resorting to standing on their toes? We braved the muddy fields of Glastonbury to find out.

All photos by Alice Zoo.

Joe, 25, from London, UK

Why are you letting a girl sit on your shoulders?
Because I've known her since I was two.

Does it have any kind of deeper meaning for you? Does it make you feel really strong and manly?
No, she's just a friend.

Is this the first time you've let a girl on your shoulders at a festival or do you do it a lot?
I do it now and again, not all the time.

Read more: The All-Female Dance Music Festival That Takes Aim at Bro Club Culture

Have you ever been on a guy's shoulders?
No.

Do you ever think that this could be potentially annoying for the people behind you?
Yeah but, I understand that, but people do it in front of me, so...

Who are you most excited about seeing at Glastonbury?
Coldplay.

Lewis, 31, from Liverpool, UK

Why is there a girl on your shoulders?
'Cos she's my girlfriend.

What does having a girl on your shoulders mean to you, Lewis?
She's not that tall so she can't see over the crowd, whereas I'm six foot three so if she gets on my shoulders, she can see. It's simple logic.

Do you think this maybe, this could prove relatively annoying for the people behind you?
Potentially. But, you know, at the same time, I guess a lot of flags down there are potentially annoying for a lot of people. We're at a festival. These things happen and, you know, you have to learn to accept that. I can't see the stage so I have to watch via the screen at the right and at the left, so... them sorta questions... They talk about it themselves.

Who are you excited about seeing at the festival?
Tame Impala.

Jack, 24, from Leicester, UK

Why have you got a girl on your shoulders?
I don't normally do this, it's because my girlfriend bullied me into doing it.

How uncomfortable is this for you?
Really uncomfortable.

What does having a girl on your shoulders mean to you? Do you feel really buff and strong?
No. It means I can't dance.

Read more: All the Drugs You Can Expect to Find at Music Festivals This Summer

Do you ever think that this could be relatively annoying for the people behind you?
Definitely, yes. But luckily I'm annoying my best mate so I'm quite happy to annoy him.

Who are you pumped about watching at Glastonbury?
New Order, tomorrow night.

Max, 27, from Germany

Why are you letting a girl sit on your shoulders?
She's so short, she can't see anything else.

What is your relationship with this girl?
Girlfriend.

Is this comfortable for you, like at all?
She's light, so it's ok. But, er, the interview doesn't make it easier.

I'm sorry about that. So does carrying a girl around on your shoulders do anything for you?
No, not really, I think she cannot put me on her shoulders, that's the only reason. I'm too heavy.

Do you ever think that this could be relatively annoying for the people behind you?
Yeah it could be, could be. That's why we're doing it for only one song, then I'll let her down.

Who are you most excited to watch at Glastonbury?
New Order, maybe?

Phil, 23, from Reading, UK

Why are you letting a girl sit on your shoulders?
Because she's my mate and she's tiny as fuck so she really needs a better view of the stage.

Does this make you feel really strong and manly?
No. She's just a friend that I'm helping out.

Read more: A Cultural History of White Girls Wearing Bindis

Do you ever think that this is maybe pretty irritating for the people behind you?
Potentially, yes.

Who are you most excited about seeing at Glastonbury?
ZZ Top.