Over the past several years, attending music festivals has lead me to notice just how much social media stifles our independence. We tend to forget about ourselves, the moment, and the significance of living within it. I believe it’s important to stay connected with people as much as possible, but I also think it’s beneficial to fall off the map every now and again. Some might think it’s scary or unsafe to ‘go off the grid’ at a music festival, but I disagree. Imagine the people who went to Woodstock; not only were they without cellphones, the world itself didn’t know what they were getting into. The way I see it, going at it alone for a little while is one of the most positive and uplifting ways to free one’s mind and self.
May 15-17th I attended Hangout Fest for the third time with several close friends. This marked the 5th year of the festival and the lineup was stacked. I made a promise to myself not to hold back or miss any shows I wanted to attend even if it meant being separated from the group. Not everyone shares the exact same taste in music and it is very easy to get bored or frustrated in the heat. Rather than sacrificing my own good time or ruining someone else’s by dragging them along with me, I decided it would be a healthy and exciting adventure to fly solo.
I headed out Saturday as a one-man band for the Beats Antique show. It was pretty hot and no one was quite ready to go yet, but that didn’t stop me. My phone never gets service and dies within minutes at festivals, but I’ve learned to enjoy this. I knew my friends would find me at some point—whether it was back at the condo or at another show—but nonetheless, that was the least of my worries. I hooped throughout the entire set and had the time of my life—110% carefree, twirling around in a crowd of happy and nonjudgmental strangers. Music festivals revolve around positive energy and create unique, unforgettable bonds with both new and familiar faces. We fed off each other’s good vibes, spreading them through the air as their invisible waves collided with the sounds.
That afternoon yielded quite a symbolic experience when I ran into several hoopers I recognized from social media without using it to contact them. That’s the greatest aspect of the hooping community. We’re infinitely connected by our circles. After Beats Antique, I continued my journey along the beautiful Gulf Coast, stopping at random places to observe and listen to my surroundings. These opportunities only arise at the very moment you’re living them and it’s amazing what becomes of it all when you digest as much of it as you can. Every moment heightened my awareness and I couldn’t get enough.
I’ve noticed that people find others more approachable when they’re alone at music festivals, and I don’t mean this in a negative way. They reach out to you with kindness. I took pictures for people I’d never met until that day, helping them make memories, making them a part of my own. I didn’t regret a single moment of my alone time hooping and wandering along the outskirts of the ocean. I found more than friendly faces and music. I found inspiration within myself as well those around me. Festival season is a lot like spring; it’s filled with colorful new beginnings and opportunities, and sadly, it’s over before we know it. Like everything else in this life, it shouldn’t be taken for granted. All it takes is a little self-reflection and seizing the moment to make it count.
Perhaps some lack the confidence to walk independently through a crowd because they fear separation and/or judgment, but a piece of land dedicated to live music and those who appreciate it is the last place anyone should fear being alone or themselves. That is where we come together to get lost in the music and good vibrations. When the music’s over, all the kind souls we came with will still be there. Only we can hold ourselves back, and I’ve found that when I’m on my own and electrified by sound, I can easily let go of society’s chains and find peace. I didn’t plan on concluding with J.R.R. Tolkien’s infamously profound quote, but it is the most applicable truth: “Not all those who wander are lost.” Sometimes we’re just on an unknown path or adventure that will free us more than we ever imagined.
Sam wore the Moon Phase Organic Cotton Mini Dress
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