When the summer descends on Australia a wave of music festivals overcome even the most cash-strapped student. Each week brings another unmissable event which promises to define your summer and your life. While our generation is often described as self-centred and careless, the worlds young people collectively create during these festivals is as close to utopian as you can get. Granted, most people are on mood changing substances, but still there’s a heartwarming sense of camaraderie. Want to use the toilet? Go ahead, what’s the rush! Need an extra peg for your tent? Sure, take mine! Need a blank surface to chop up your MDMA and snort it? Here take my make-up container! It’s simple and it’s beautiful, and I think Marx would totally be into it.
Often set in beautiful, isolated settings, the native creatures that usually live in these open spaces (including possums, owls and local townspeople) seem to make way for the new owners of the land in a weird act of natural harmony. And my god are these new owners a sight for sore eyes. People arrive in their festival best, wings, dress-ups, colourful make up. All the elements needed to create the very personality, which doesn’t always cut it in the big smoke of Melbourne. Fire-twirling, guitar playing and basic construction skills have way more cred here then anything a 4-year law or business degree could have prepared you with. (although when those tripping take a turn for a worse, the med students become a cherished commodity).
Each festival has its own dress code and personality. Meredith, for instance, attracts a hell of a lot of androgynous, fashionable, black clothsed entities, each sporting a swoopy fringe which covers the left eye (I guess for some of the hipsters, the world is so blasé a two-eyed vantage point is just superfluous). Hippie festivals, like Confest and Woodford, are also an entirely different world where earth-worshippers from every corner congregate to do experimental yoga workshops and thank the traditional owners of the land on an hourly basis. And the best thing about the hippie festivals, the ABSOLUTE best thing is: Hippies are hot. Seriously. I don’t know why their boobs don’t sag or how their skin seems to remain tanned and earthy without looking dirty. Perhaps it’s all the organic living and idealism that keeps them young and supple. Either way, it makes you feel both admiration and inadequacy at how your attempts to wear a bindi just make you look like you have some leftover rissoto on your head.
While the worlds created at these festivals are unrealistic, temporary and some would say naïve, this is our paradigm for what the world should be. Fashion, music, youth and flirty smiles. Lots and lots of smiles. In a modern world which lacks any overarching philosophy like communism to believe in, us youngsters need something to spend our time and money on. As long as corporate greed, corruption and pictures of new born puppies on the front cover of the Herald sun continue unabtated, we will continue to construct and de-construct our festival worlds every few months with purpose and conviction.
At 250 dollars a pop, I think it’s a pretty cheap coping mechanism.
Meredith music festival: Something to believe in
construction at Meredith music festival
Hare Krishna festival food, providing both spirituality and sustenance
Peats Ridge festival: getting in touch with the west african dancer within
drumming and feathers often feature prominently
at festivals mud is not only accetable, but embraced
come festival time, nature makes way for the new inhabitants and their ways
and after all the fun and memories to last a lifetime, you pack up, take your costume off and go home.