A Survival Guide for Freaky Deaky
Concert-goers at a 2017 EDM concert at Stereo Live. Christina Tan / Thresher
Now that Rice students are slowly losing their hideous sock tans from Austin City Limits, and you’ve stopped seeing the Instagram posts featuring multicolored flags and the same five off-the-shoulder tops from the teen section of your local mall, you might be getting ready for ACL’s edgier, scarier-looking sister: Freaky Deaky. If this is your first attempt at an electronic dance music festival, you might want to know more going into it than just what you see on Snapchat stories.
If you’re familiar with the culture of care, you’ve got the general idea. PLURR stands for peace, love, unity, respect and responsibility and embodies the spirit of rave culture care – maybe Dean Hutch wasn’t thinking big enough when he came up with the three R’s. Along with this comes kandi — small beads or stones that festival-goers make and trade or offer as tokens, usually either after a moment of connection or as a way of saying thanks. Generally speaking, the kandi people are willing to trade is worn on the right, and special kandi or ones they’ve received on the left. Remembering the first R of PLURR, don’t randomly ask a stranger for a piece. They aren’t meant as currency, but as a way of keeping a tangible piece of a moment with you after the festival ends.
What to pack and wear
It’s not supposed to rain, but ... it’s Houston. There’s always a chance the sky will dump on you just out of sheer spite. Keep checking the weather and adjust accordingly, but always count on at least a chance of rain. That being said, bringing a light raincoat is always a good move. An ideal one won’t get you sweating while you dance it out, but will keep you warm when the night cools down. Bonus points if you can roll it up tightly and fit it in your bag so you don’t have to lug it around.
A fanny pack is always a festival go-to, although they’ll also let you in with a small, single-compartment bag. Pack it with a portable charger and ear plugs — trust me, as someone with tinnitus, using strangers’ shoulders as ear muffs can only do so much. Bringing a factory-sealed (festival rules, for obvious reasons) pack of gum is also a pretty surefire way to make friends with said strangers. And for those of you who just image searched for “EDM festival wear,” Freaky Deaky will not allow you to bring in pacifiers, gas or dust masks or Native American headdresses … and if you were considering that last one and you’re not Native American, we should have a separate conversation. Although you can’t go the dust mask route, a bandana might be your next best substitute.
For men, while basketball jerseys might be the move at ACL or Coachella, it’s best to wear something at Freaky Deaky that will chafe less, considering the expected amount of exertion at an EDM fest. Try a tank or a baseball jersey, if you’re committed to something sports-related. Not to get too Rave Mom on you, but please wear comfortable shoes. This is a marathon, people – looking cute for the first hour is not worth losing your heels and limping out with smushed pancake feet.
Unless you’re handcuffed to your pals (though Freaky Deaky guidelines actually explicitly prohibit handcuffs), you’re likely going to lose your companions. It’s much harder to find people in a rave setting, with less-than-helpful lighting and a more densely packed space, than it is at any other day-long music festival. It’s also a lot easier to just make friends as you go along, so don’t stress it. In fact, you might have more fun if you don’t try so hard to stick together. Get familiar with the venue map and make a plan for when, where and how you’ll find the people you arrived with. Don’t waste the whole day panicking, scrambling for reception and yelling into the void – get okay with getting lost and knowing how you’ll get back.
If you’re prone to burning — and even if you’re not — please pack some sunscreen (liquid, not aerosol). Sunburn is not a souvenir you want to leave with. Empty hydrating backpacks and reusable water bottles are allowed, and the venue will provide free packs of electrolytes you can add to your water bottle, so keep the signs of dehydration in mind while you’re dancing your heart out.
Go with the flow
I’ve never heard of a completely smooth festival experience — you’re going to lose things, including your friends, you will probably get into the wrong Uber and you’ll definitely trip over something in front of a large group of people. Whatever happens, remember that you paid money to have a good time. So relax and see where it all takes you. Make friends with fellow festival-goers. Watch out not only for yourself, but for those around you (#cultureofcare), and make sure everyone’s having as good of a time as they hoped for. It’s bound to be an experience.
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