Peace, love, unity, respect

Tommy Dennen, Staff Writer

Festivals are getting a little overrated. Or are they?

Sure, the droves of trailblazers that got these massive musical movements going probably had more fun than any of us ever will (hipster joke), but in all honesty, music festivals continue to grow in number and size at a rapid pace.

They have not peaked and they are not on the decline, as some individuals claim. Be careful of these people, because they might try to convince you festivals have “changed” and “aren’t as good anymore.” To a certain extent they may have a point in terms of comparing their first mind-blowing experience to subsequent iterations, but that evaluation doesn’t consider what it might be like for you to experience one for the first time and make your own judgment.

My first festival experience got me hooked. There was something tangible about the attitude of everyone around you. You couldn’t bump into someone and not instantly get along with them. The air was simply electric; the excitement and the camaraderie were palpable. Don’t misunderstand, there were plenty of individuals under the influence of drugs and alcohol, but nowhere would you see a fight, much less anyone being rude to someone else. To the contrary; the core concept of this cornucopia of concerts was that you were there to have fun. Everyone wore a smile. Everyone set aside a good amount of time, well in advance, to simply enjoy themselves amid the collection of artists scheduled to perform.

Also, if you go to your first music festival you might get “PLURed”. PLUR stands for Peace, Love, Unity and Respect, the four pillars of festival-goers, or “ravers” as some people call them. If a person likes your attitude, the way you dance or just you in general, they’ll turn to you and hold out a peace sign. You meet their peace sign with the tips of your two fingers, connecting your gesture for “Peace;” then they use their hand to make half a heart, and you make the other half of the heart for “Love;” if you make it this far into the secret handshake they’ll turn their palm toward you and interlace their fingers with yours: “Unity;” and if all went well, they gift you their rave jewelry or “kandi:” “Respect.” For a first timer, it’s a cool souvenir, and it’s colorful and fun to wear in the energetic environment you’re in.

I went to my first festival when I was 19, and it may seem a little dramatic, but it surely changed my life. I met awesome people who I’m still friends with, went on some uncanny adventures while far away from home and in party mode for a few days straight. I gave myself a good chance to reflect on my life outside the confines of daily stress. You can listen to great music and dance next to people that want to groove to the beat in their own way, smile at you and keep having fun.

My advice is find your favorite genre, whether it’s reggae, EDM, country or whatever, and invest in a festival with your friends. You might find yourself agreeing that there is nothing overrated about festivals. They’re still a ton of fun and you’ll be sure to want more.