At 23 it’s weird to look retrospectively at the last 5 years. While it doesn’t seem like it was all that long ago, the personal growth from my days as a fresh-out-of-high school baby raver to where I am now is astounding to think about. The experiences I’ve had since I stepped into the Staples Center for Kaskade’s Freaks of Nature Tour in July 2012 have helped shape me in many ways. From my musical taste to my confidence level, I never thought that chasing my favorite musical artists from festival to festival would have as much of an impact as it has on me.

If I could go back in time and give myself a few points of advice from what I’ve learned, here’s what I’d say. 

1. Confidence isn’t only key – it’s everything

When I first started attending raves and festivals, I had no sense of rhythm and a very low self-confidence level. I would constantly worry about how I looked compared to others, what I was wearing, how I was dancing, if I was on beat or not. But I came to realize confidence is everything, and it affects every aspect of how you feel and view yourself. So, I started caring less about what other people were thinking and put more attention into how I was feeling. I started wearing whatever I wanted, creating my own personal style, and stopped worrying about what everyone else was doing. I had never considered myself to be a good dancer and was always shy about dancing in front of others in junior high and high school – but going to festivals over the past 5 years has given me a sense of rhythm and put a beat in my heart. And it did more than that – it gave me the confidence I always wanted. I realized all I had to do was feel the music and let my body do the rest.   

PHOTO BY SCOTT LONDON

2. Venture away from the main stage, check out new artists

We all have our main stage phases – when we first enter the scene and that beautiful, huge stage blares whatever the latest trend in main stage music is. When I first started, electro/big room house were hitting their peak. It took me about 2 years of being in the scene before I finally decided that I was ready to explore new sounds and new stages. It’s not that I didn’t care for new music, but I was so content with where I was I didn’t bother to venture off until much later. Don’t wait as long as I did, or you’ll be kicking yourself years down the road for missing artists you didn’t discover until later on.

PHOTO BY SCOTT LONDON

3. Try new experiences in new places

I started out doing all the typical local festivals – HARD Summer, Beyond Wonderland, Coachella, EDC, etc. in 2012 but didn’t add any new festivals to my roster until 2014/2015 when I attended Snowglobe and Lightning in a Bottle. Again, this falls back on me being too content to venture out. Don’t get stagnant! Going to the same festivals you know are fun is tempting, but venturing out there trying something new is always worth it. My third piece of advice – don’t wait as long as I did! New experiences are popping up all over the world all the time, and there’s no shortage of adventures to be had.

4. Save, save, save

Probably my most essential piece of advice, and something I still need help sticking to from time to time. Since I started attending festivals, I haven’t stopped, which means there hasn’t been a significant amount of time between festivals for me to save money. This means that for a while, I was barely scraping by from festival to festival. Don’t be like me – save up as much as you can. Budget out each festival down to the tee, you’ll be thankful later that you did!

PHOTO BY OH DAG YO PHOTOGRAPHY

5. Don’t be afraid to go solo

Although festivals are a great time to be had with friends and loved ones alike, don’t feel like you have to be tied down to your group the entire time. I’ve missed so many sets that I’ve wanted to see simply because I was the only one who wanted to go. As I’ve matured, I’ve realized going solo is sometimes the best way to experience a set or even a festival. You get to focus much more on yourself, who you want to see, and what you want to do. Not only that, but you get to completely immerse yourself with zero distractions, and who knows, you may meet some new friends along the way.

6. Don’t be afraid to go sober

Another important piece of advice. When I started out, I remember always wanting to get as messed up as I could. It wasn’t that I couldn’t enjoy the music when I was sober, but I was 18, experiencing a new world for the first time, and was down for anything that could enhance the experience. While there’s no problem with wanting that, after a while, you may be searching for the next best thing to spice up your night. What I’ve learned over the past few years is that going sober can be just the refresher you need. It allows you to feel out your environment on a more natural level, seeing and experiencing everything with a fresh perspective. I’m not here to preach about the benefits of sober raving, but every once in awhile, if you’re looking for something new, try it out!

PHOTO BY AARON GLASSMAN

7. Be spontaneous

Probably my favorite piece of advice I would give to my younger self. Life is constantly changing and you have to learn how to go with the flow. Don’t ever feel like you have to stick to any sort of plan when it comes to what sets you want to see. And don’t ever feel like you have to stay at a set just because it’s someone you wanted to see, even though you’re not really feeling their set. 

Featured Photo Credit: Brock Van Leer