I’ve been trying to decide where to start with my posts about Download Festival. I think I’ll start with my impressions, since I want to add videos and such to my reviews.
I definitely enjoyed the experience, although I did keep noting things to do differently next year. That will be the subject of another post, I think. I was very tired by Monday morning and napped in the car on the way back. It was quiet when I got home and that felt weird, after several days if constant noise.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start at the beginning rather than the end, shall we?
Thursday morning arrived and I was incredibly nervous, scared something would go wrong, or I’d forget something vital. I knew I had everything, because I’d packed, checked, repacked and rechecked it all.
Getting there wasn’t too stressful as we had sat nav and Download is well sign posted once we got close enough. Once there we had to get everything to the campsite. It’s quite a walk from the drop off point to the campsite. Getting through the check in process was easy, as there was quite a few people available to do bag and ticket checks. The only problem we had was convincing the stewards that we didn’t have any alcohol with us (we didn’t, because we hadn’t been able to get any on the way) and the bag checker deliberately missunderstood me when I said my bag contained food and boots, insisting I’d meant booze. I know my dialect can be a bit odd, and my accent strong, but if I’d had alcohol with me I’d have said precisely what I was carrying. My companion was asked if we didn’t drink. Why do people make assumptions like that?
By this point I was tired, frustrated and losing patience with the world in general. But, I remembered that the next few days included HIM and Sacred Mother Tongue, and soldiered on with a smile.
Even the thunderstorm didn’t get me down. We were at Download, we’d got our tent up with the help of a neighbour and had a cup of tea. I resorted to having a quiet cup of tea and doing some writing whenever things got a little too much.
The most overwhelming aspect of it all was the constant noise, even early in the morning, and the lack of sleep. I coped with it all better than I thought I would, especially once the rest if our group arrived and I stopped stressing about their safe arrival. We discussed it on Sunday morning, and came to the conclusion that because I was with people I love and trust, was fairly happy, taking my medication regularly (they made sure I took it when I had my breakfast) and was able to escape to the relative solitude of the tent when I needed to, I could cope with the experience better than most people predicted.
One thing I did though was religiously tidy; having a tidy environment helps me feel better. I felt uncomfortable on the campsite because everyone else just dumped their rubbish around their tents.
The familiarity of drunk people also seemed odd. Download is a place where the normal rules of social interaction no longer apply, so being drunk at 9 am and spending three days wearing a pikachu onsie is perfectly acceptable but refusing to high five or hug random drunk strangers makes you a bitch. I didn’t speak much to people I didn’t know, though I made polite small talk while waiting in various queues and at various stalls.
So, all in all, for a person who struggles with social interaction, loud and aggressive people/situations and strange places, I don’t think I did too badly. It is possible to go to a festival and enjoy it if you concentrate on one thing at a time, are with people you trust and know that you have a place to retreat to if necessary. Next year I’m going to try actually getting to know the people around me.
I’m going now, I need to get a few things done today, now that I’m home.
Later today: lessons for next year.