Doctors recommend getting 8 solid hours of sleep a night. That way, you’ll start your day fully focused, with the maximum amount of energy possible. For the most part, this is another on the long list of things about which we should listen to our doctors, but if you find yourself at a festival, this rule needs to be tossed to the wind.
Because of the society structure we’ve inherited as humans in the 21st century, most of us are doomed to spend the majority of our time awake between the hours of nine in the morning to five in the afternoon. Even though a large percentage of festival attendees have embraced a lifestyle that rejects strictures like a nine-to-five, things they depend on like the doctor’s office or the clothing store are open during the day time, and besides, no one can stay up all night forever.
Festivals are one of the few places where such disregard of your bodies needs is both expected and encouraged. In the spirit of Burning Man, these places only exist temporarily. Once the site is cleared, that festival will never exist again. Every hour is precious.
A lot of cool stuff happens during the day at festivals, but the night time is what provides the truly unique experiences. Here are a few reasons why you should see the sunrise every day of the festival
1. Less Crowded
It doesn’t matter which festival you’re at, there is not a single one that is more hectic in the later parts of the night. This is very nice for many reasons, the main one being the lack of lines. There are lines for food, lines for water, lines for the bathroom. So many lines that I feel like Cartman in the episode where he buys his own theme park. If you stay up late, those lines won’t be there. It’s as simple as that. This general lack of people also gives you a chance to roam the festival grounds in a new way.
A venue generally has two outfits, the daytime one which includes the massive crowds, and the nighttime one where live art is replaced with multicolored fluorescent lights. It’s cool to become familiar with them both.
2. The Music
Whether music is an integral part of your festival experience or not, it is generally recognized that the night time is the time for the headliners, but also some very unique mood setters as well. It doesn’t matter if you’re at a huge festival like Coachella, or something very small like Soulstice, if there are artists performing at night, they’re doing so for a reason.
It is not ideal for someone to be performing at the same time as a headliner as far as building a fanbase goes, but it also provides a unique opportunity. If an artist lands that overlapping headliner spot, they’ll be playing to a crowd that consists of almost entirely of current fans and people with deeper musical inclinations. Not only are these artists huge within their own scene, but an audience like this allows the artist to take more risks. For example this year at Coachella, J.E.S.u.S. (Jack master, Eats Everything, Skream, Seth Troxler) were spinning a three hour set while Drake was closing out the night. Other than J.E.S.u.S. being the most impressive electronic act on the lineup, it was clear that the four Brits were challenging each other the whole time. Other than playing different styles of music than I had ever heard them play by themselves, slight hiccups in the set showed that they were probably playing these tracks for the first time that night. It was equally likely that three out of the four DJs on stage were hearing them for the first time as well.
3. After Hours
On top of having premiere acts playing in the dark, many festivals also have an after hours lineup that is completely separate from the main stage music. Some festivals like EDC and Desert Hearts are cool enough to have the music going all night, but when festivals are forced to rely on the smaller stages for after hours, its just as good.
When it comes to after hours, the part about artists being able to take more risks because of the more open-minded audience applies doubly. It isn’t uncommon for artists to perform twice during a festival, once during regular hours and once during after hours simply because they want the experience of playing in front the after hours audience. At LIB this year, Pumpkin played a set for the silent disco. At the Dirtybird Campout, Christian Martin and Justin Martin played a back to back drum and bass set.
In front of an after hours crowd, a DJs image is less important because if the people in the audience are still awake at 5 a.m., then they’re usually just excited music is playing. If Justin Martin isn’t playing a typical house set, it’s not a big deal. In fact, it’s exciting to be one of the few people who see a DJ depart from their standard style.
4. Sunrise sets
Leading right off of my last point, if you’re at festival where there’s an opportunity to see a sunrise set, you better take it. Consider how few sunrises a person sees compared to the number of sunsets. A sunrise is something to be cherished especially when you pair that with music and you’re best friends. When you think about it, a sunrise really only lasts an hour two before the new day comes, and there isn’t a better example of natural mood lighting in the known universe. When an artist can really capture the vibe of the sunrise through their music, it’s something special. You know it. Everyone around you knows it. The artist knows it.
5. The People
As festivals become more mainstream overall, the people who truly embody the spirit of them become more difficult to find. One bug fat shortcut to finding them though is staying up all night. As stated prior, every hour of a festival is precious. On top of the general commonality you share with everyone by simply attending the festival, being in the minority of people who party until sunrise communicates a unified feeling of gratitude. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know anyone. In fact, its better that way because it helps you to understand that the ideas of love, acceptance, appreciation for art, and every other idea that a festival defines are alive and well outside of your comfort zone.
Plus the night time is when the crowd can really reach maximum potential. What I mean by that is, because all the vendors, speakers, and artists are all busy vending, speaking and doing art during the day, the night time is the time they have to enjoy the festival for themselves. You could be dancing with a girl who sold you a t-shirt during the afterhours set, or you could approach one of the speakers and talk with them about their lecture on a more personal level.
Best of all is that the festival scene, once navigated, is very tight knit. If you go to a festival outside of the ones that pride themselves on being the biggest ever, I guarantee you’ll run into people you met at the last one, especially if you stayed up late. The people who partied all night at one fest are going to want to do the same at another. It’s just common sense.
Something about the darkness brings out a different side of people, and a festival is one of the few places where that side can exist. Some (including myself) would say its the best side of people simply because its that side that reflects that person’s best qualities. A festival allows someone to be completely genuine, completely honest, which in turn leads to complete happiness.
If all it takes to experience something like that is missing a few hours of sleep, that sounds like a no-brainer.