Singing, dancing, shouting, laughing, drinking, eating, helter skelter, big wheel, flags, hula hooping, hanging out with friends, chatting with strangers, sunshine, sunsets and silliness. All those things and more were had at the Common People festival in Southampton this weekend.
The people that organise Camp Bestival on the Isle of Wight, had a go at organising a two day ‘city’ festival on Southampton Common with acts such as Fat Boy Slim, De La Soul and Grace Jones to name a few. It was awesome. My brother, his fiance, some friends from London and a bunch other friends from Southampton attended with myself and my other half and an epic weekend was had by all.
If you’ve never been to a festival, it is certainly a unique experience. Although this one involved no camping and it being a walkable distance from our house, it was slightly different to the festivals we are used to, but it didn’t take anything away from the atmosphere that a festival brings. First of all, you can literally wear anything and refer to it as festival attire. No-one questions it. From wellies to onesies, masks to mankinis, full body morph suits to literally any other kind of fancy dress you can think of. Anything goes and it is perfectly acceptable to have your face painted as a zebra whilst drunk off your face. Grace Jones for example, who dressed in nothing but a pair of panties, a half-corset and some white body paint. Who knew I’d get to see a 67 year old ex bond villain’s tits on Southampton Common?! It was certainly a sight to behold and fair play to her, she gave a great performance for a pensioner.
The other thing you inherit when you get to a festival is your ability to communicate with complete strangers. Once you have a festival wristband on, it’s fair game that everyone else in attendance could be a potential festival friend. You end up spending a fair amount of time queuing at festivals. Queuing for toilets, food, alcohol, rides and if your queue contains some interesting people, it is likely you will end up babbling onto them whether you or they like it or not. So much so my boyfriend insisted on paying for the guy in front of us to have a pee. I’m not sure why, but hey he is a generous soul.
Another time, whilst I was in a queue to get a grilled cheese snack, two young ladies started chatting to me. At first they began by complimenting me on my sunglasses by the time I got to the front of the queue, we’d exchanged names, ages and had spent 5 minutes playing drinking games. I was lucky to get out of there without having to do any fines myself, but they had already declared their undying love for a random stranger and licked cider off each others boobs. As I said before, at the festival anything goes.
Most of the reason that you end up talking to strangers is because you are slightly tipsy….or completely hammered depending on your preference. There was a tequila ‘Day of the Dead’ bar on site which free-poured tequila cocktails. As the queue was pretty big, we ended up getting two each in order to save time. This meant a round for 6 people was £90. We’d literally just got to the festival, we’d been there 5 minutes. 15 minutes later and £90 lighter between us, we’d done our drinks and were ready and buzzing for what the rest of the festival had to offer.
Festivals aren’t just aimed at adults who want to get drunk though, there are a lot of people who take their kids along for a family day out. They have special tents/sections away from the main festival area which host a load of games and activities to keep kids and parents entertained. There are however some parents who want to hang out with the grown ups and let their kids roam around freely, left to their own devices. This is fine most of the time, but not when one of them kicks a blow up football at you resulting in a whole pint of cider exploding in your face. Luckily this did not happen to me, but did happen to the unsuspecting girl in front of me. Unlucky.
Due to 35,000 people being in one place at the same time, there is also an awful lot of losing people that goes on at a festival. Sometimes for a couple of minutes, sometimes for a couple of hours. As a rule, we generally congregate in a large group, in a fairly identifiable place, so that if you do wander off, you can head back to the meet place and usually one or all of your friends will gravitate back there at some point. This works fine until you get hammered, forget where everything is and have to make friends with randoms to make yourself less of a festival loner. I danced with two people dressed as cowboys for a good 15 minutes until I spotted someone I knew. Again, perfectly acceptable festival behaviour.
Much like holiday blues, festival blues are very much a thing. After two days of hanging out in a field, drinking out of paper cups, having every type of street food you can imagine in stumbling distance from each other and a bunch of people being paid to entertain you, sitting at home on your sofa is a bit of a disappointment. Saying that, not having to queue to have a wee and resting your tired dancing feet is certainly a bonus. My festival sunglasses have been put away for another year and miraculously have lived to see another festival. Same time next year everyone?