I love festivals. When I was 24 I got a freelance ‘job’ writing for a music magazine. I didn’t get paid, but there were perks, Press Pass in hand (see photo of said me rather smug looking). Though, to be fair it mostly consisted of me going to music events, taking a few pictures, and then drinking my body weight in booze. The next day, my head heavy with hangover, I’d write a vivid account of my drunken activities set to the soundtrack of whatever gig I’d seen.
There’s probably a good reason why I didn’t get paid. I’m not entirely sure how I got away with it, but I know that I entirely loved it. One summer I ended up doing a few festivals, which followed the same routine: pictures, booze, hangover, write.
It was really good for a bit. After a while, it stopped being fun. Mostly because the hangovers became too much to bare, and I started to question why I drank so hard; because booze went with drugs, and drugs with booze, and my sleepless nights bled into grey dawns, lining up like heavy silence. Eventually, I gave up for a bit, and in the beginning became somewhat of a hermit. I didn’t think I could handle my old stomping ground sober, and I was pretty conditioned in my belief that to not drink was to not have fun.
I’ve mentioned I love festivals right? Last summer, I did a festival sober. I’m fully aware that there are a lot of people who live their entire lives without touching a drink. But my life, my adult life, had largely constructed itself around the ebb and flow of alcohol. How do you go to festivals and not get mullered, without feeling like you’ve been left on the doorstep of the party? I had an amazing time, with friends, dancing in the (warmish) summer light, wearing wellies and remembering the feeling of letting yourself go in the hedonism that are festivals. Life is pretty good in those moments. That experience taught me that I didn’t need anything to alter my mood to enjoy myself. I also had some awesome support, spending the day with my sister and friends. I treated myself to sweet drinks, and overpriced ostrich burgers, before all the sugar became too much and I felt like I had an early onset hangover. I went home that night, my feet kicking across Victoria Park covered in thousands of nitrous oxide canisters, I was pleased with what I had personally achieved that day.
With Summer 2015 arriving at our feet with the start of many festivals this month, I’m heading back into the fields, wellies and trench, and all. It starts this Sunday 7th of June with Patti Smith at Field Day. I have looked forward to this for months. Festivals are still sensitive places for me, and I’m all too aware that I am going in no longer teetotal. But, I’m also going with three years on my initial 24, and in that time I have made some serious changes, learning the value in living the moments just as they are. The only thing I’ll be doing in excess this year is glitter.