Thursday 15 November 2018

Unhappy camper: The seven key signs that you’ve outgrown music festivals

Stock photo
Stock photo
Katie Byrne

Katie Byrne

Festival season gets underway in a few months and tickets are selling like hot cakes.

If you're young enough to wear denim hot pants, this thought probably fills you with immense excitement.

If you're old enough to know better, however, you're possibly contemplating giving it a miss, or buying a seated section ticket for The Rolling Stones instead.

The decision to opt out of festivals happens a lot earlier than we might realise. It's a slow surrender that begins the day you book a local spa hotel rather than pitch a tent, and ends, a few years later, when you capitulate at the first sign of rain.

In your 20s, you would beg, borrow and steal for a ticket. In your 30s, you would consider going if you got a free ticket, a lift and, perhaps, a foot massage.

Sure, there may have been a time when you bragged about never missing an Electric Picnic. Nowadays, you live in constant fear of missing a mortgage repayment.

The problem, you tell anyone who'll listen, is that festivals are getting younger (the fact you're getting older and grumpier is entirely unrelated).

This heightened age awareness usually leads to intense scene-surveying. How old are they? How old would I be if it was still a year ago? How old is Kate Moss?

Most festival-goers over the age of 30 have wrangled with this dilemma of perspective, but none more than David Cameron, who looked like he had bitten off far more than he could chew when he was photographed at the Wilderness Festival last year. We can only assume that the former PM was shopping for garden supplies in B&Q when he was flung into a wormhole and transported to the main stage of the festival.

On the other hand, Susan Sarandon looked like the Goddess of Good Times as she floated through the playa at Burning Man in 2015. She's 20 years older than Cameron, which just goes to show that age is defined by attitude.

The truth is that there is no age limit at festivals, but there are plenty of age-related intolerances that might get in the way of a good time... here are just a few of them.

You've become a hypochondriac

There was a time when you threw caution to the wind and partied past blisters, bumps and boils. Now older and wiser, you realise safety is no accident and hearing loss is irreversible.

You worry about neurogenic bladder as you wait 20 minutes to use the Portaloo. You're concerned about contracting chlamydia as you hover over the seat. You used to pack condoms in case you got lucky. Now you pack antihistamines in case you get hay fever.

The line-up is bewildering

You only know five of the acts on the line-up. Well, six, if you count the one that you thought was a TV show...

Worse, you don't know whether to say N.E.R.D or 'Nerd' and you're flummoxed by the trend for disemvowelled band names - Scarlxrd, anyone?

Luckily you have a crafty solution: like the wine list at your local restaurant, you only check out the acts you can pronounce. Ageing raver: 1. Festival: 0.

You can't understand the token system

You try to buy a pint but the barman tells you that you need to buy tokens first. He points to an indistinct site in the far distance and refuses to take the tenner that you are now desperately pushing into his hand.

Oh, how you wish you were in the safe harbour of your local where they accept paper money, serve Guinness and play the same, reassuringly familiar music over and over again.

You know your way to the car park

In your 20s, the hinterlands of the festival was a hazy, labyrinthine maze. Who cares! You can find your car on Monday. Once you're over 30, the route back to your car is seared in your hippocampus like a synaptic breadcrumb trail.

Nonetheless, you do three car park reconnaissance missions before the weekend is out - just in case someone moves it.

You crave home comforts

You spend considerable amounts of time walking around the grounds looking for a proper cup of tea and reading the news online. It seems to keep you anchored to reality and protected from the relentless 'untz' of the festival bubble.

"Are you having a good festival?"

"Three dead in a car crash in Carlow."

You need your beauty sleep

In your 20s, your festival beauty routine consisted of baby wipes and glitter. From your 30s onwards, you need eight hours of sleep, three different types of foundation and an array of lotions and potions before you even contemplate leaving the tent.

You're regarded differently

There was a time when strangers used to ask if you knew anyone selling drugs. They now ask if you have hand sanitiser or if you happen to know where the Happy Pear tent is. You're also slightly concerned about the amount of up-to-no-good youths who mutter "sketch" every time you walk by. You catch the gaze of another ancient artefact who gives you the sort of nod that one might extend to a fellow referee at a football game. It should be reassuring but it only makes you feel worse.

Irish Independent

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