My first music festival was Summafieldayze, Gold Coast, 2006.
I was 18, the sun was shining and Supermode’s ‘Tell Me Why’ was playing when I first walked in, wild-eyed. The song was quite fitting actually, for I was also wearing a Chesty Bonds singlet, a tutu with a flask of vodka underneath and a headscarf (I’m sorry).
I’m now 29, and while I’m a much more mature version of myself (I buy the $8 handwash now) I know that I am well and truly still the old me.
I still secretly love doing most things you’re meant to get sick of at 24. Sometimes I picture myself being old, trying to hit up all the bars I used to go to but not being allowed in because I’m old and leathery, and I’m yelling “I USED TO GO HERE!!!!! LEEETTT MEEEE IIIINNNNN!!!!!” while being dragged away.
About two months ago, however, the universe sent me a sign that I was going to be OK.
The sign came in the form of Kylie Jenner lip kits and underboob, because I was at Listen Out. From the moment I arrived, I felt like I was trying to hang out with my daughter and her cool friends.
I usually feel quite safe in my 29-year-old cocoon, because I stick to festivals like Laneway and Coachella. There, I’m of average age and life experience. There, people are interested in the music.
But Listen Out was one of the first music festivals at which I felt truly past my prime.
First and foremost, it was the fashion. Oh my god, the fashion. As everyone trickled in, I couldn’t help but reflect on how much festival fashion has changed in the past decade. I saw my life flash before my eyes. It was terrifying.
“You guys!!!!” I wanted to scream. “You know in 2006 we used to wear fluoro and bandanas and more fluoro and it was COOL, OK?!”
Of course we all tried painfully hard to be on-trend back then, but there was definitely an emphasis on comfort too. If you couldn’t get up on someone’s shoulders in it, it was a no, and if you were able to wear lipstick all day long, you were doing it wrong.
Now it seems, the more trendy and restricting, the better. Can you bend down to tie your shoelace? No? Good. Can you pick up your drink without flashing a boob? No? Great. Can you wave your hands in the air like you just don’t care? No? Even better.
The Listen Out experience was basically a live smorgasbord of the Bardot New Arrivals section: underwear sets with see-through dresses, perfectly-lined lips, Hollywood-taped camis, Kendall Jenner-inspired sequin mini dresses and high-cut one pieces... with no pants (obvs).
I was feeling all the feels, which was not at all helped when I saw people doing dances I’d never seen, singing along to songs I’d never heard, and using phrases that were completely foreign to me (since when did we swap “down-low” for “low-key”???)
It got me thinking: when are you certifiably too old for music festivals? Maybe… it all just depends on the festival you’re at.
If you’ve got a ticket to Burning Man, chances are you won’t be the oldest (or most cooked) one there. If you’re going to Splendour, it’s not at all weird to take your kids along and sleep in a campervan for three days. But if you’re planning to go to Listen Out, or any other mass summer festival, the cut-off age feels significantly lower. They should have a disclaimer on the ticket, actually.
WARNING: YOU WILL FEEL LIKE YOUR MUM IF YOU’RE OVER 22.
So before you go planning your whole summer calendar, be prepared. Choose your events carefully, based on your birthday and music taste. Alternatively, invest in a gold glomesh dress, just to be safe.
Illustration by Twylamae.