Tis the season...
Summer is in full swing here in the UK, and if you’re a hip young thing like myself, you’ve probably got a few music festivals lined up. Festivals are magical events - a weekend of pure escapism, away from society and all its pesky rules and expectations. Warm can of Stella for breakfast? Why not. Body paint for underpants? Party on. Horse tranquilliser? Just say Neigh.
Of course, before the madness ensues, you have to get there - and unless you’re peasant-ing it on the train, you’re more than likely going by car. Let’s talk about that. Because the journey to and from a music festival can be a joyous and amusing - or profoundly stressful experience, depending on how everyone chooses to conduct themselves. In my friendship group, I’m the driver, and I’ve had to put up with a colourful spectrum of bullshit in past years. Fortunately for you, I’ve learned from my suffering, and in the hopes of sparing you similar trauma, have compiled a comprehensive list of dos and don’ts. If like me, your friends are mostly idiots, send them a link to this before letting them anywhere near your car.
The journey there...
DO be ready to go when the driver arrives
Lateness is irritating in general - but in the case of pre-festival departure, it’s utter piss-takery. Why? Because it’s likely that your driver has kindly agreed to come and pick you up, with all your bags, from your front door - and then do the same for three more people. That means a good hour of back-and-forth driving before departure. Prolonging this process with dilly-dally won’t butter any parsnips.
If, for some unavoidable reason you aren’t ready when your driver pulls up outside, be courteous and apologetic. Don’t tell your driver to ‘chill out’ and definitely avoid silly jokes about how you’re ‘just going to have a quick bath’ before you set off. It’s not the right moment.
DON’T bring a stupid amount of stuff
When travelling with friends to a festival, it’s likely that every seat in the car has been filled. Packing light is therefore essential - bringing too much stuff will only complicate departure, and is another surefire way of getting on your driver’s tits before you’ve even set off.
When packing, remember that you are, when all’s said and done, about to spend the weekend getting trashed in a field. You don’t actually need to bring that much. Don’t show up with three jackets, a spare tent, a portable stove, and a wheelbarrow to carry it all in. And definitely don’t suggest ‘strapping it all to the roof’ as a helpful solution, unless you wish to find yourself strapped to the roof.
DO fulfil your DJ duties
DJing for your mates in the car is a lot like being David Guetta: Just hit play and soak up the glory.
Now you’re on the road, and it’s time to start getting into the festival frame of mind - so hook up the aux cord, and play that funky music, white boy. If you’re riding shotty, you’re on DJing duty. Play it loud and get your passengers hyped for the madness that is about to ensue.
Be democratic in your DJing - music equality is important, and everyone gets their turn to request a song. Unless of course their choice is rubbish, in which case a veto may occur. This happens when, upon hearing a song request, the other 4 people in the car simultaneously shout ‘SHIT’. The passenger who chose the shit song also misses their next song choice slot as penance for their poor music taste.
DON’T get drunk in the car
If the in-car DJ is doing their job and the tunes and banter are a-flowing, you’ll doubtless be feeling increasingly lively as the journey goes on - and eager to commence inebriation. Cracking open a brewski while stuck in traffic on the M25 may therefore seem like a brilliant idea, but please, please wait until you arrive.
This is important: if you, the passenger are caught drinking alcohol in a moving vehicle, the person driving is likely the one who will be held responsible and face the consequences. It will put a strain on your friendship - and jeopardise your lift home - if your designated driver finds themself pinned to their bonnet by the constabulary, being tased in the anus, all because you were conspicuously necking cold ones in the back seat. Have patience.
The journey home...
DO Be gentle with your driver on Monday morning
The festival has drawn to an end, and what a weekend it was - the parts that you can remember, at least. On Monday morning, as the cold light of day creeps in, most of you will be in good spirits despite the hangover. You won’t be in any hurry to gather your belongings that are strewn across the campsite, or begin the literally impossible task of folding away your pop-up tent. You’ll want to stay for one last drink, one last laugh, and that’s understandable.
But be aware - while you’re still in carefree festival-mode, reality has come crashing down on your designated driver. They face the unenviable burden of having to operate a car, on a motorway, in their fragile state - while you sleep in the back.
Therefore, be as sympathetic to their cause as possible. Buy them coffee. Be ready to leave when they want to leave. Don’t ask if you can ‘squeeze up’ and make room in the car for the random hottie you just met by portaloos. In short, keep in mind that were they to leave you behind (and not have to drop you home) your driver could shave 15 minutes off the time separating them from their bed. Don’t tempt them.
DO your DJing duties part 2
As with the journey there, DJing duties befall whoever rides shotgun for the return leg - but the brief is very different. Music should not be upbeat, or loud, or cheerful. Play only sad, plinky-plonky songs of sorrow and suffering. Think Johnny Cash and Radiohead. This will assist the necessary metamorphosis from your glitter-covered, degenerate festival self, back to your civilised, law-abiding, real-world self.
If, in you're so fragile that the sound of music makes you feel like someone is going at your brain with a cheese grater, silence is an alternative, but beware: this may result in deep and depressing conversation. With four or five people in the car, it’s mathematically inevitable that one of you, at some point over the weekend, completely lost their marbles - and now the floodgates of introspection and shame are open. Just last night, your mate ‘Stevo the legend’ was smoking his own pubes out of a bong, while dressed as a transformer in a suit made of beer crates. Today he wants to open up about his relationship with his father, and why he can’t hold onto a girlfriend.
You’re better off playing soft music not allowing any silences for him to fill.
DON’T forget to pay petrol money
You’ve finally made it home - mostly one piece, and with most of your possessions. Good for you. Thank your driver, unload your bags, take three showers and go to bed. When you wake up two days later, text your driver and offer to pay your share for the journey. Do this even if it was a short drive - the thought will be appreciated as much as the money, and you massively increase your chances of being offered a lift next year.
What did I miss? Do you have any hilarious/harrowing stories from the drive to a festival? Let me know in the comments.