I’ve seen photos all over the internet of huge music festivals—Coachella, Lollapalooza, Electric Daisy Carnival, the list goes on—and I got the impression that these huge events would be filled with loud music, very fashionable people, very unfashionable people, and illegal drugs.
Since 2008 I’ve gone to a wide variety of local shows and raves, so when my friend propositioned we go to HARD Summer 2013 with her cousins, I figured the experience would match the fun of a smaller rave and increased tenfold. With little hesitation (aside from the $150 pain in my wallet for the ticket alone), I packed my bags and took a Greyhound bus to Los Angeles.
Let me preface this by saying I’m not discussing the music here. Every set I had the opportunity to see melted the faces of those around and ultimately encouraged me to dance. I was pleased, definitely. I made a list of do’s, dont’s and other valuable info for any first timers or if you plan on going next year.
What kind of crazy stuff should you wear:
A big question for girls who have never gone to a HARD event is what exactly do you wear? Do I go in all-out rave gear? Or do I wear a conservative sundress? You can do either, really. As someone who is remotely well versed in rave wear (though I don’t wear it myself, to be honest), I was unsure if the HARD experience was going to be bright and colorful like EDC.
The rules on the HARD Summer website clearly illustrated that attendees weren’t permitted to wear kandi or fuzzy legwarmers (fuzzies?) into the festival. However, it was interesting to see how many girls inside were donning their typical rave wardrobe: neon colors, face gems, and pony beads up to their elbows. There were also plenty of girls wearing regular clothing, too, so it’s hard to ‘go wrong’ at HARD Summer. You can wear whatever you want—no one cares as long as you’re not being suspicious to a point where a security guard is obligated to act.
If you’re a dude, you can put on any tank top and call it hip. It’s a bummer for girls who plan hours into their outfits, but that’s the way it is. Embrace it and spend the extra time Pre-gaming or something equally as dramatic.
Wear sunscreen for the day, don’t be an asshole in the evening.
During the first day of HARD, I was burning. Since there weren’t any acts I was dying to see before sunset, I was counting the minutes before I’d be spared from the sun so I could open my eyes for the first time since I got there. Not entirely specific to HARD, the attendees got crazier as the sun went down. During Disclosure’s set, I had a girl dancing in front of my group of friends completely collapse on me; naturally, I supported her until her friends finally realized she was most likely in need of medical attention and took her away, enabling attendees to eat up the space they left in the crowd like vultures.
There were plenty of times over the weekend just like this—another person was vomiting violently, and no one really went to assist the person to get out of the crowd aside from whoever knew the woman personally. I suppose this isn’t any different than most festivals, but I must have assumed wrong that there would be a stronger sense of community amongst a crowd listening to various electronica artists, like the EDM scene had established through their following.
Dance responsibly (and don’t be a creep).
I also made my very, very shallow quota of men grinding against me without any warning over this weekend. Fortunately, most of them were emboldened by their drug consumption, so when I asked them (politely) to back off, they did so. Even one guy approached me as I waited for a friend alone, asking if I was alright and if I needed anything.
I appreciated this since it mildly supported my predisposed image of an EDM festival (concern for everyone’s health and safety), but before long he told me that ‘since we probably will never see each other again, we should do something crazy and fun!’. I begrudgingly asked what he was implying, and after a swift gesture toward his crotch I pivoted on my heel back to where I was supposed to meet my friend.
Enjoy the music, if anything at all.
You’ll find the best vibes about midway through the large crowds forming by the stages. This is where people who want to dance are, meaning that they’re not planning on trampling anyone to get right up against the stage or so plastered that their zombie gaze only wants to see a hint of lights synchronized to music to be satisfied before promptly passing out onto the grass.
Everyone is super excited to see every set, but people enjoy them differently—and I’m personally easy irritated by people calling out ‘my friend is up there excuse me please I need to get up there’ only to stop four rows in front of you. However, having no room to move (or breathe) may be your cup of tea, which certainly isn’t unusual.
There was one point of the festival that I was completely satisfied with, which is arguably the most important part—the music. I was most excited for Justice’s DJ Set, and it was everything I asked for and more, though we believed their encore was cut due to the clock striking midnight.
Save your smartphone battery and download the Uber app.
You will most definitely be tempted to film everything (don’t do that by the way—watch the show, for shit’s sake) but you’ll need your battery later after the festival. Everyone will be calling their friends to find them, and everyone will be calling cabs if their hotel isn’t within walking distance. If you’re one of these people, I strongly suggest downloading the Uber app, which gets you in touch with a cab without any of the messy details—you can send them their location on your phone (no need to find a landmark), pay through your phone, get an estimated time of arrival, and receive a call when the driver is there.
The service is a little more pricey, but when your entire group’s after-show glow is wearing off, everyone wants to get home and eat Burger King. This service cuts the difference between walking up and down blocks in downtown LA at one in the morning in questionable clothing, hailing taken cab after cab that refuse to turn their service lights off, and overall wanting to stop walking and realizing you’re out of cigarettes. I’m speaking from experience.