The ethos of electronic music festivals is one of openness and acceptance. When attendees pass through the front gates, they (hopefully) check their egos at the door and join co-revelers of all walks of life. This attitude fosters an environment where people can express themselves in ways that might be unacceptable or scandalous elsewhere.
Although what results can certainly feel like a kind of utopia, the unfortunate truth is that there are more than a few people who take advantage of the community’s openness. When over 75% of people can say they have been harassed or assaulted at music festivals, it’s time to take a step back and reevaluate.
Here are 8 tips to help curb the less-than-savory behavior that haunts music festivals and events everywhere.
1. An outfit is not an invitation
This is a big one and should honestly be fundamental in life. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Someone else’s outfit is not an invitation. It is not an invitation to gawk, to harass, and it is especially not an invitation to touch. Assume an outfit is meant for no one’s benefit save for that of the wearer. Appreciation can be nice and compliments might be welcome, but there’s a clear difference between appreciation and creepiness.
2. Don’t touch people to get past them
One of the most common complaints we hear at music festivals is when people put their hands on others to slide by them in a crowd. The typical offenders go for the waist or lower back in a painfully transparent and downright slimy excuse to touch people. Those who have a modicum of respect and who have actually been to a festival or two know that it’s entirely unnecessary to touch someone to get past them. Those who insist it is necessary are either lying to themselves or should be considered predators. Full stop.
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3. Quit staring
Yes, music festivals are full of beautiful people. Yes, some outfits could be considered scandalous by everyday standards. No, that does not imply it’s ok to stare at people who want to show a little skin or dance a bit provocatively. To quote a fellow raver, “I always love to dance however I’m feeling and sometimes it’s sensual. When someone is staring, it’s hard to keep going.”
4. Verbal assault is still assault
There is a blatant misconception that assault must include physical contact to count. This misconception is shameful at best and intentional at worst. The truth is that verbal abuse can be just as disgusting - and if anything, it’s more pervasive than physical assault. Simply put, unsolicited comments, whether intended to be positive (like catcalls) or negative (like derogatory comments), are never okay. Innocent and friendly comments may be welcome, but it’s painfully transparent when they bleed into the creepy and overtly sexual.
5. Someone dancing doesn’t need to be danced with
Just like an outfit isn’t an invitation, nor is dancing. Someone who is enjoying themselves lost in the music, does not need to be danced with. Trying to do so is simply predatorial and gross, and if a person’s friends or even strangers feel the need to run interference, then it’s a great idea to step off and maybe leave the festival entirely. People who can’t take a hint need not be welcome at public events.
Brian Baker is a writer, photographer, and designer based out of St. Louis. You can find his portfolio here.