I was anxious, scared, and excited at the same time. It was Saturday morning, and after seven years of attending music and arts festivals with friends, I was finally on my way to my first festival - alone.
Of course, with the plethora of sick shows in SoCal, I have danced and boogied at many smaller events and clubs on my own, and love to roam around solo to meet up with different groups of friends. However, I never mustered up the courage to make the trek out to a weekend-long festival by my lonesome, where I would sleep overnight in a faraway location.
Fast forward to 2015, and I'll explain the reasons why I decided to head out to Serenity Gathering this past Saturday, a 5 day festival secluded in the desert on a huge Indian Reservation with no cell service. Spoiler alert: I can't wait for my next solo adventure!
You've probably met a friend or two at a festival before, considering the fact that you're surrounded by thousands of people who love the same music as you. When you're alone, the opportunity to meet new friends is tenfold. After my solo trip this weekend, I came back to San Diego with three new hilarious, wonderful friends - one of which lives a few blocks from me!
But what if you aren't interested in extending your social circle? Nevertheless, wandering at a music event gives you the option to network and make valuable connections, whether it's a job opportunity, artistic endeavor, or anything else of importance. As a journalist, I've met several media connections by chatting with industry people at events, which is far more beneficial than sending a random email. You never know what can happen!
As I perused the festival grounds, the sense of freedom was thrilling. Making your own schedule means you can arrive whenever you want (I came on day 2), leave whenever you want, sleep, eat, etc. Not only does being alone let you take care of your basic needs, but nowadays festivals cram the weekend with extra bonuses other than music, such as art galleries, yoga, workshops, speakers, psychedelic fun houses, and much more, so you won't miss a major section of the event because your group wasn't interested. You are free!
Going to an event should be a pleasant, fun, exciting vacation for you. After taking off work, spending the money to go, and planning the trip, you deserve a drama-free festival! In my experience, the more people you go with, the greater chance of someone having issues, whether they forget their ticket, lose their phone, don't show up at the meeting spot, bring bad vibes or attract sketchy characters. That being said, you should always look out for your friends or even strangers if they need help, and this doesn't happen all the time. However, it's safe to say that going alone guarantees you won't have to worry about pleasing everyone with you, and you can spend more time dancing the night away.
There's nothing worse than being stuck at a crowded stage with music that you're just not feeling. When you're the odd one out of your group, however, you might stay with your friends because kicking it with the homies sounds groovier than venturing to that no-name artist stage that seems farther than the North Pole. But what if that no-name artist could be your new favorite? Even if your friends wanted to go, it seems impossible to lead ten friends out of a crowd of sardines. Thus, rolling solo allows you to check out your favorite artists, discover overlooked artists and stages, and hop around much easier than leading a wolfpack. You've always wanted to check out that weird psy-trance stage at 5am, so leave your friends at Tiesto and go live a little.
With festival season upon us in 2015, we are lucky to have so many options of different festivals and genres in more cities than ever. Because of all the options, why limit yourself to solely the shows your friends want to attend? Don't be afraid to make that trip to Colorado, to camp out in the desert, or anything else your musical heart desires just because your friends can't make it.
Focus on yourself, go scope the music you want to see, start that photography or video project you wanted to do, write about your travels, study the spectacular art, or take a walk through nature (if you're lucky to attend a beautiful venue like I did at Serenity Gathering). Even if you just sit there and watch, it's like a form of meditation for the soul. You'll discover that the festival will seem to last longer when you go alone, and might even feel like you are accomplishing something.
So unhinge that ball and chain, take the risk like I did, and get ready to find the serenity within yourself. You'll find it's addicting - and unbelievably liberating!
Check out our full list of events at this link!
Photos by Mel Marcelo, Jeremy Wassink, Courtney O'Connor and Morena Duwe.