Festivals aren't all glamor and fun. Whether you're a proud patron of Coachella, Lollapalooza, Fyre Festival (too soon?), or any other music and arts extravaganza, you know that a lot of money, time and effort goes into the #BestTimeofYourLife.
But remove the (literal and figurative) rose-colored glasses, and you'll uncover the real blood, sweat and tears that go into the festival experience. And we all know someone who ends up in tears...
Like the recent LA vs NYC piece (go back and read it if you haven't) I asked people from around the country to share real experiences of the thorns behind the flower crowns.
The identities of these festie-besties will remain anonymous - because we all have jobs, duh - but the tales of triumph and defeat actually took place. Enjoy.
1. “I broke my front tooth at EDC."
I went with my sister and younger brother to the Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas a few years ago. They say that families that rave together, stay together… which played out when I accidentally bit a Camelbak too hard, popped off my front veneer, dropped it in the dust, and forced a group of strangers to take out their cellphones and “find the damn tooth!" Meeting new people was hard after that, especially when they were met with the smiling face of a snaggle-toothed carnivore adorned with glitter and sweat. The next day, I thoroughly cleaned the veneer and stuck it back in my mouth to find a surprisingly seamless fit. It was so seamless in fact that I forgot it was there when I went to brush my teeth… and watched my $1000 veneer fall down the sink at the Wynn. My favorite part of the whole story is opening the hotel door for the handyman and kindly explaining that there was, “Something of mine he needed to retrieve… now."
2. “I accidentally insulted my friend's girlfriend at Electric Forest."
You half-expect people to be on drugs at festivals, and sometimes you just can't tell. But after meeting my friend's girlfriend and hanging out for a few hours, I realized she'd definitely gone cross-eyed and needed help. “Those are just my eyes," she said. I was mortified.
"They say that families that rave together, stay together… which played out when I accidentally bit a Camelbak too hard, popped off my front veneer." Photo Courtesy of Indigo East
3. “I lost everything I owned at Coachella."
My sister and I share a purse at festivals -- it's just easier to carry things that way. That year, we thought it'd be “smart" to bring our passports as a second form of ID (should we somehow lose our licenses), and carried them inside the purse with both of our car and house keys, all of our credit cards, a thousand dollars in cash, new iPhones, and all the swag we'd picked up at the brand parties. And then -- just as you probably guessed -- we lost the purse. The consequences were dire: it ruined the rest of the festival (it was the last day at least), and we had to have our car towed to the nearest dealership. Since we'd lost all our cards and ID's, we had no form of payment (or proof of identity to get new cards at the bank) so I had to go around the party house Venmo-ing people I'd just met for cash to pay for it and the $250 new car key.
Luckily, one of us still had our phones. We kept calling the iPhone that was left in the purse until, at the dealership, an angel answered it. We ubered to his house 20 minutes away, cried our eyes out, and paid him for being so honest.
4. “I checked myself into the Medical Tent at Outside Lands."
The line-up at Outside Lands in 2015 was amazing -- even Elton John performed! Too bad I missed it. Apparently, after just one show, I'd taken the liberty of running away from my friend group, hanging out with complete strangers, took a nap in a field, and suddenly woke up to run away… leaving my phone in the grass. I have a few memories, one of them including yelling the word “bed" to a paramedic. When I came to, I realized I'd checked myself into the Medic Tent claiming it was nap time, and proceeded to sleep through the entire festival. The next day my coworker asked how Elton John was. I had no comment.
"You get invited to a lot of celebrity after parties at Coachella — but they don't always turn out to be as great as you'd expect." Photo Courtesy of blog.zalora.com
5. “I missed Drake's Coachella after party… and was shamed by my Uber driver."
You get invited to a lot of celebrity after parties at Coachella -- but they don't always turn out to be as great as you'd expect. After Neon Carnival one year (at like 4 am) we got invited to Drake's mansion. My friends and I were tired and didn't want to risk driving 20 minutes at surge prices to get to a party that might get shut down by the time we arrived. Plus, we were stuck in crazy traffic getting out of the event parking lot. Our Uber driver overheard us and asked for the party address. We told him we'd give it to him if he drove his brand new Mercedes over the concrete median, thus cutting the traffic line. He agreed, we gave him the address, and we went home.
An hour later, we get a text from him laughing, saying how incredible the party was and how bad we fucked up. It was the greatest night of his life… and the worst of mine.
6. “I accidentally became a peeping Tom at Reggae by the River."
I was sitting on a rock in the middle of the river, only realizing later on that the other people in the river weren't dancing but… you know. In retrospect, that would account for the angry looks they were giving me. But I honestly thought it was some discriminatory thing so with my “warrior mentality" I decided I wasn't moving. It's not every day you're involved in an orgy without realizing. One less thing on the bucket list.
7. “They locked me inside of Coachella and I had to climb a fence to escape."
I decided to volunteer one year with an organization in exchange for free tickets to Coachella. Sounds like a fair trade, right? Wrong. Crazy shifts and hard labor under the scorching desert sun weren't exactly “a walk in the Polo fields," and the comfort level of the volunteers was not prioritized. But the worst moment came the day after Coachella ended, when we had to tear down the booths and art installations. After working for hours in the blistering heat, the organizers finally released us… waving goodbye as they drove away in golf carts toward the staff camping/parking area (which was about a 30 min walk away). When we finally crossed the fields, we found the exits fenced and locked, leaving us with literally no way to get out. We tried calling for help, but the area was an empty wasteland of techno dreams. We had to the climb the goddamn fence to escape. Lesson learned: I now buy my Coachella tickets like a normal person.
"I almost died because I burst my appendix the day before Coachella, but a healthy dose of inebriation powered me through the festival." Photo Courtesy of REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz
8. Security caught me with a fake “catheter" of wine.
I tried to sneak a full 3L bag of white wine into a festival… inside my pants. I almost got through security, but at the last second I got stopped and asked to lift my shirt up. The massive bag of yellow-ish fluid was poking out of the top of my pants. Thinking on my toes, I told the security guard it was my catheter bag. She gave me a puzzled look, and it became evident she had no idea what a catheter was... so she shouts across the crowded security line to her manager, "Can you come take a look at this gentleman's catheter?!" Hilarity ensued.
9. “I got appendicitis at Coachella."
I almost died because I burst my appendix the day before Coachella, but a healthy dose of inebriation powered me through the festival. I didn't know it was appendicitis until much later afterward.
10. “I stumbled upon something in the dark at Burning Man…"
I'd arrived late at night and took a quick walk on the dusty playa, taking note of several of the art installations. A small kinetic piece caught my attention, but it was too dark to see. I walked right up to it for a better look, squinted my eyes to try and force them to adjust, and finally gave up. When I turned on my headlamp, the bright LED revealed the installation to be a human couple. “Welcome to burning man," they said.
11. “I lost my wallet (and mind) at Wakarusa."
I woke up on day two of the festival to realize that my wallet was missing. Remembering exactly where I must've left it (near a stage while making a potentially shady business deal with an unknown wook...) I rushed back to find it gone. Some festival security took me to lost and found, but it hadn't been turned in. Completely defeated (and no longer in any state to search for a small brown wallet at a muddy festival) I spent most of the day anxiously dreading the logistics of getting home without my ID or any money. At sunset, I randomly asked another security guard, who got on his radio and said, “I'll send this happy camper your way." I have never been so ecstatic in my life. Turns out the lost and found was in a completely different spot than what the first security guard told me. It had been there all day and I would've had such a great day if that asshat sent me to the correct tent in the first place. But the polarization of my emotions made the rest of the night more incredible than it could've ever been otherwise.
12. “I was handcuffed to a stranger for 8 hours at Further Future."
I met a group of friends (many of whom were firefighters) and made one of them my festie-bestie. We were so attached at the hip that his friends thought it would be funny to attach us at the wrist… AKA handcuff us together. I spent the next 8 hours walking around the Nevada desert getting to know that human very well. At one point, I figured out I could contort my hand out of the handcuff, but kept it on because I was actually having fun. Though the desert heat made the metal burn.
Women in the workplace have always experienced a certain degree of discrimination from male colleagues, and according to new studies, it appears that it is becoming even more difficult for women to get acclimated to modern day work environments, in wake of the #MeToo Movement.
In a recent study conducted by LeanIn.org, in partnership with SurveyMonkey, 60% of male managers confessed to feeling uncomfortable engaging in social situations with women in and outside of the workplace. This includes interactions such as mentorships, meetings, and basic work activities. This statistic comes as a shocking 32% rise from 2018.
What appears the be the crux of the matter is that men are afraid of being accused of sexual harassment. While it is impossible to discredit this fear as incidents of wrongful accusations have taken place, the extent to which it has burgeoned is unacceptable. The #MeToo movement was never a movement against men, but an empowering opportunity for women to speak up about their experiences as victims of sexual harassment. Not only were women supporting one another in sharing to the public that these incidents do occur, and are often swept under the rug, but offered men insight into behaviors and conversations that are typically deemed unwelcomed and unwarranted.
Restricting interaction with women in the workplace is not a solution, but a mere attempt at deflecting from the core issue. Resorting to isolation and exclusion relays the message that if men can't treat women how they want, then they rather not deal with them at all. Educating both men and women on what behaviors are unacceptable while also creating a work environment where men and women are held accountable for their actions would be the ideal scenario. However, the impact of denying women opportunities of mentorship and productive one-on-one meetings hinders growth within their careers and professional networks.
Women, particularly women of color, have always had far fewer opportunities for mentorship which makes it impossible to achieve growth within their careers without them. If women are given limited opportunities to network in and outside of a work environment, then men must limit those opportunities amongst each other, as well. At the most basic level, men should be approaching female colleagues as they would approach their male colleagues. Striving to achieve gender equality within the workplace is essential towards creating a safer environment.
While restricted communication and interaction may diminish the possibility of men being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment, it creates a hostile
environment that perpetuates women-shaming and victim-blaming. Creating distance between men and women only prompts women to believe that male colleagues who avoid them will look away from or entirely discredit sexual harassment they experience from other men in the workplace. This creates an unsafe working environment for both parties where the problem at hand is not solved, but overlooked.
According to LeanIn's study, only 85% of women said they feel safe on the job, a 5% drop from 2018. In the report, Jillesa Gebhardt wrote, "Media coverage that is intended to hold aggressors accountable also seems to create a sense of threat, and people don't seem to feel like aggressors are held accountable." Unfortunately, only 16% of workers believed that harassers holding high positions are held accountable for their actions which inevitably puts victims in difficult, and quite possibly dangerous, situations. 50% of workers also believe that there are more repercussions for the victims than harassers when speaking up.
In a research poll conducted by Edison Research in 2018, 30% of women agreed that their employers did not handle harassment situations properly while 53% percent of men agreed that they did. Often times, male harassers hold a significant amount of power within their careers that gives them a sense of security and freedom to go forward with sexual misconduct. This can be seen in cases such as that of Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby and R. Kelly. Men in power seemingly have little to no fear that they will face punishment for their actions.
Source-Alex Brandon, AP
Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook executive and founder of LeanIn.org., believes that in order for there to be positive changes within work environments, more women should be in higher positions. In an interview with CNBC's Julia Boorstin, Sandberg stated, "you know where the least sexual harassment is? Organizations that have more women in senior leadership roles. And so, we need to mentor women, we need to sponsor women, we need to have one-on-one conversations with them that get them promoted." Fortunately, the number of women in leadership positions are slowly increasing which means the prospect of gender equality and safer work environments are looking up.
Despite these concerning statistics, Sandberg does not believe that movements such as the Times Up and Me Too movements, have been responsible for the hardship women have been experiencing in the workplace. "I don't believe they've had negative implications. I believe they're overwhelmingly positive. Because half of women have been sexually harassed. But the thing is it is not enough. It is really important not to harass anyone. But that's pretty basic. We also need to not be ignored," she stated. While men may be feeling uncomfortable, putting an unrealistic amount of distance between themselves and female coworkers is more harmful to all parties than it is beneficial. Men cannot avoid working with women and vice versa. Creating such a hostile environment is also detrimental to any business as productivity and communication will significantly decrease.
The fear or being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment is a legitimate fear that deserves recognition and understanding. However, restricting interactions with women in the workplace is not a sensible solution as it can have negatively impact a woman's career. Companies are in need of proper training and resources to help both men and women understand what is appropriate workplace behavior. Refraining from physical interactions, commenting on physical appearance, making lewd or sexist jokes and inquiring about personal information are also beneficial steps towards respecting your colleagues' personal space. There is still much work to be done in order to create safe work environments, but with more and more women speaking up and taking on higher positions, women can feel safer and hopefully have less contributions to make to the #MeToo movement.