I did it! I went to Electric Island Festival with two friends, and had a great time!
We danced, drank, and I managed my anxiety pretty well. It was extremely packed for such a small venue. I’m glad we took the shuttle bus. It made getting there and getting home so much easier. I enjoyed myself so much! I haven’t put on festival makeup, a funky outfit, and danced to some good EDM music in such a long time. It felt good doing something that was both challenging fun for myself!
Fortunately, there were only two things that got the old anxiety going.
The first thing that got me was the fireworks. I didn’t know they were coming. Sudden loud pops over my head freaked me out. Yay, instant panic mode. I had to run away and calm myself down. That’s just something for me to work on in the future. Fireworks are cool, though. It’s just veteran problems.
The second was getting continuously rubbed up against and groped by men. That was disgusting. I have been to at least 5 different music festivals in the past, wearing practically nothing. No one touched me. Why? Music festivals pride themselves on a central set of principles. PLUR. Peace. Love. Unity. Respect. At festivals I’ve been to in the past, I could get totally lost and know that anyone I turned to, no matter how messed up they were, would try to help me. I’ve been lent hoodies, phones, and been taken in until I found my group again. No one ever made me feel uncomfortable the way I had felt last night. I didn’t worry about being drugged or groped no matter was I was doing or wearing. Sure, people would check you out, but that’s where it stopped.
At EIF, I knew immediately that it was not the same spirit. The major difference between my previous festival experiences and this one? The vast majority of the patrons were military guys. I’m not sure if a ship is in, but unfortunately that does make a difference. It doesn’t excuse it, but it sure explains it. For some reason, keeping their hands to themselves and not being creeps hasn’t sunk in outside of the work place. I lost count of hands I swatted away. I also don’t know how many guys grabbed me by my waist and tried to grind on me before I pushed them off of me. I had to surround myself with girls that were fending off the same kind of people the whole time. That was pretty disappointing.
Otherwise, I saw some amazing costumes. People really got into the glitter. I ran into the Miles Morales version of SpiderMan. I danced with a couple dressed like Marshmello and invited some festival princesses dressed like butterflies up to the front to dance. It was really fun!
Honestly, I’m glad I did this challenge! I had some quick ups and downs, but I am ultimately satisfied with how I handled it. I didn’t freeze up when I was uncomfortable. I was pretty clear in my boundaries. I met some new people in line for the bathroom. Nothing brings people closer than having to pee. I ate some amazing octopus kelaguen. I would definitely go again, and maybe bring some earplugs for any unexpected fireworks.