(Instagram/Sara Steinfeld)

It’s been a pretty fun summer so far, and it’s not even officially summer yet! Why, you ask? Because in the past month, I popped my music festival cherry in a big way: I went to both Electric Daisy Carnival and Gov Ball, and I had an absolute blast. Sure, it was raining for the first two hours of Gov Ball, and yeah, I got a blister the size of Texas and a sunburn that’s actually still in the process of healing while at EDC, but there’s just nothing that compares to spending the day with your friends, dressing and dancing crazy, and seeing seven or more of your favorite artists in one day. 

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Now, as I’ve officially awarded myself the title of Bona Fide Music Festival Expert, I feel qualified to advise all of you on everything you need to know about music festivals even though none of you asked for my help. I’m just assuming that one day you will, so I figured I’d beat you to the punch. There are a lot of things that I wish I knew before I attended my first festivals, ranging from what to wear to what to bring to what to expect overall. Here are 10 important things I learned:

gov ball

(Instagram/Sara Steinfeld)

1. Sunscreen is your friend.

Yeah, yeah, I know, if I had just worn/actively reapplied sunscreen, I wouldn’t still be peeling from a two-week long sunburn, during which I’m pretty sure I glowed for a couple of days. Apply it before you leave the house, and bring some with you to avoid paying jacked-up prices at one of the festival’s supply tents. Seriously, it was $20 for a tube of sunscreen at EDC. Like, no. I recommend bringing a face & body sunscreen stick—that way, you don’t have to worry about anything exploding, and you’re not violating the rule that most festivals have about bring outside liquids into the festival.

2. Bring cash money dollar billz, y’all. (Sorry.)

So Gov Ball was a bit different in that almost all of the vendors accepted major credit cards, but EDC was a cash only all the way. I would have been a very hungry hippo if I hadn’t brought cash with me to that event.

3. Drink all of the water.

You may not feel it right away, but you’re going to get dehydrated if you don’t drink. It’s hot, you’re dancing, and it’s just bound to happen. Pretty much every festival under the sun has free water refill stations, and most festivals are cool with you bringing an empty water bottle with you to use throughout the day. If not, just shell out the ten or so dollars to buy one there. Trust me, it’s worth the money, and at the very least, it’s a useful souvenir!

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(Instagram/Kevin Gavidia)

4. Don’t be afraid of the crowd.

My biggest fear going in was that I was going to get squashed in a giant crowd. I’d heard of people getting trampled at previous festivals, and that’s not exactly the way I want to go. As it turns out though, my fears were entirely unwarranted! People in these crowds are (for the most part) shockingly polite, because they’re all there for the same reason as you are: To have fun. We actually met some pretty cool people at EDC, and I made it through both festivals trample-free.

5. If you don’t feel well, go to the medical tent immediately. 

Luckily I didn’t have an experience like this, but the second you’re not feeling well, go to the medical tent. I don’t care if you think it’s a headache that will pass—you really never know with these kinds of things, and if it’s something worse, you don’t want to be that guy that passes out in a crowd of people.

6. Bring hand sanitizer and tissues/toilet paper. 

For obvious reasons. Port-a-potties are nasty AF, guys.

7. Dress like an idiot.

Since this was first festival, I didn’t really know how tame or crazy I should go clothing-wise. I think I blended in pretty well, but I literally saw someone dressed as Pikachu at EDC and it was amazing. Also, people were carrying around hot dog balloons all day at Gov Ball. Just go with what you feel. If you want to #LeftShark all day, go for it. No one’s gonna judge you.

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8. You’re going to see a lot of Spongebob Squarepants references, and no, it won’t really make sense. 

I just feel like you should know that I saw several people walking around with signs that read, “Are you feeling it now, Mr. Krabs?” I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy, but I’m not saying I understood it, either.

9. Pack light.

Unless you want to pay $40 for a locker, remember that you will be carrying everything that you bring with you for at least ten hours. I wore a crossbody bag to Gov Ball, which in hindsight was a bad idea because my shoulder was killing me by the end of the day, but I wore a fanny pack to EDC, and it was the best decision I’ve ever made. Plus, it was neon orange, so it went along with the “look like an idiot” theme of the day.

10. You’re going to want to go back the second you leave.

I don’t know what it is exactly, but music festivals, ironically, are like drugs—once you get a taste you just want to keep going back. It was the most fun I had in a long time, and I can’t wait until the next one rolls around. So, if you catch the festival bug, save up your paychecks and stock up on neon knee-highs, because you’re not alone.