not my scene, but I can vibe.
This past weekend (June 9th-11th) was one of my biggest inspirations in creating this blog in the first place. I worked as a VIP ticket scanner at Spring Awakening Music Festival, which is a huge Electronic Dance Music festival that takes place in Chicago, and if you know me, EDM and Chicago are two things I am absolutely not a big fan of at all.
My friend, Codi, does these types of things all the time, and I’ve worked events with her before, but they were always within our scene of music: pop punk/rock/alternative. I asked her to get me the info and walk me through what I have to do to help out, originally because the job paid nicely, I wanted to try something new this summer, & I honestly wanted to get first-hand experience on this whole festival culture thing that everyone is so crazy about. I almost backed out last minute because I imagined myself having to be around all those hippies and bass heads for three days straight while being stone-cold sober… but I’m glad I followed through with it.
Day 1: Friday, June 9th
First of all, I was slightly upset because there was a pop punk show at Bottom Lounge that night with the bands, Real Friends & Broadside. Then I got over it when I reminded myself how many times I’ve seen them before and that I’m getting paid for working this thing. I was so nervous and anxious at first because I knew Codi and I had different shifts & jobs, so I would barely see her, and I had to figure everything out on my own.
It was pretty smooth sailing once the gates opened because let’s be real, ticket scanning is a no-brainer. Everyone on staff was really friendly as well, so I had no problem making conversations with new people; I mean, I wasn’t really surprised because I’m a social person who hates awkward silences, but it was still nice to click with some of them so quickly. Turns out a lot of them were into the same music as me and not EDM, so within minutes, I was already exchanging social media usernames with them.
Time flew by, and I even forced myself to go check out a couple of the people performing during my paid breaks. Want to know a secret? …I actually had fun.
I also got “PLUR-ed” for the first time this day… I had no idea it was a thing until then. If you don’t know what it is, it’s this little handshake thing that people of this festival culture do to trade their bracelets called “Kandi.” PLUR stands for Peace, Love, Unity, and Respect, and there are hand gestures to go with it that lead to being able to just slide a bracelet from one person’s arm to the other, rather than just handing it to them. It was cheesy, in my opinion, but who am I to judge, I guess.
ANYWAY, after lunch, the people in the Will Call line went haywire for waiting too long. Apparently they started knocking down barricades and attempting to tear the tents down, so the staff unplugged the computers, refusing to give them their tickets. Then what ended up happening was they all came to the entrance I was at, and we were just supposed to let everybody in with or without a ticket. It was crazy, but we got through.
When my shift ended, I found a couple friends, and had a little more fun by the main stage before my boyfriend picked me up to go to Joy Yee Noodle for some beef teriyaki with baked rice I was craving for days.
Day 2: Saturday, June 10th
This day was obviously easier because I got the hang of everything and knew my way around the venue. Plus my boyfriend ended up coming to the festival in the middle of the day, so I was able to hang out with him during my breaks & after my shift.
Towards the end of my shift, we all started getting bored because the mid-day rush was over…or so we thought. All of a sudden, the managers started yelling, “Watch out!” & “Get out of the way!” So we turned around and realized there was a mob of about 70 people just sprinting through the gates, knocking down barricades once again as well as tackling any security that got in their way. A bunch of cops came out of nowhere, putting several teenagers in handcuffs, while more than half the group escaped and got lost in the festival crowds. Apparently it happens every year at EDM festivals, but nothing like it ever happens at Warped Tour or Riot Fest, so it was all new to me.
After clocking out, I was SO tired, and I had a mini breakdown for a few minutes, but my boyfriend got me through, and we danced together until the end of the festival. Overall, it was a good night, and I was ready for day 3. (I was also ready for the lazy day I was planning to have on Monday.)
Day 3: Sunday, June 11th
Nothing too crazy happened on this last day, but it was still super fun, thanks to my boyfriend.
Once I began to relax after my shift, we went to a couple artists’ sets that he wanted to see, and I just went along with it because he’s into this stuff while I am not. It was nice to dance with him all night and hear him say, “It’s so weird that you’re here with me, but I feel so much closer to you.” That made the whole weekend worth it. Dealing with listening to beats and bass for three days, being surrounded by people on all different types of drugs & alcohol, and barely knowing any of the performers’ music but still forcing myself to dance to it was all worth it, knowing he was happy and that he appreciated me being there.
This thing was an experience for the books for sure, not only because of the memories I made and the people I met, but because of the realizations I made in those three days:
- There’s nothing to worry about on your first day of anything because chances are, it’s someone else’s first day as well.
- Disliking a certain type of music is absolutely okay, but you have to give it a chance at some point because even if you still dislike it afterwards, at the end of the day, you realize where you truly belong in terms of music community.
- Little sacrifices for the ones you love are worth it in the end when you see how much they appreciate your efforts.
I’d be the first one to say that a lot of EDM annoys me & that I despise being in Chicago, but I spent ten hours a day for three days at Spring Awakening Music Festival; if that’s not disrupting your comfort zone, I don’t know what is.