The genius of a weekend music festival – a format of which Glastonbury is still indisputably king – is that if it’s good the experience becomes much greater than the sum of its parts.
Although inevitably much time is spent waiting for things to happen, walking the quite lengthy distances around the site between acts, negotiating impossible group decisions, trying to meet or find people – and all this is tedious and induces anxiety about wasting the short precious weekend – it also all serves a higher purpose: namely, the pursuit of pleasure, and fun. Whatever your poison, there are many varieties of fun to be had. The periods of inertia are interspersed with moments of pure joy, hilarity, extreme relaxation – when endorphins abound. The sun helps in this. Like puppies, bursts of activity are followed by long periods of relative inactivity, which means you can get by on remarkably little sleep, which is good because there are things to be seen and done around the clock.
Such extreme oscillations make the four or five day break an emotional and experiential work-out – not least because of the capacity of the music itself to summon all kinds of emotional states. Or, as a friend put it: ‘I’ve just gone from welling up to rocking out in the space of 2 minutes. Thank you Ray Davies.’
Living in a field, with minimal connection to the outside world, and no responsibilities for a few days, makes a true break from the rigours of working life. It also makes people much more pleasant, reasonable, and beautiful. Everyone looks better a little bit dirty and suntanned. So although, if done properly, it is likely to take you to the brink of collapse from fatigue, and possibly illness (I bumped into one friend who had lost his voice entirely), a few days spent in this manner is the ultimate reboot.