'U OK hun?': The essential questions for summer’s festival season

Find out how to navigate welly season with a series of probing quizzes and how-to guides

Social media: what are the rules of posting at festivals?

Get the balance right

Tricky, isn’t it? On the one hand, you and five others across a carefully coordinated Facebook Messenger group all frantically spent a giddy 8am early morning work session desperately queueing and refreshing to buy tickets to your festival of choice. You’ve bought an entire new festival-ready wardrobe of Brave New Looks you would never dare rock in real life, including some sort of woven poncho, a whole face paint tin and a T-shirt with stick-on mirror sequins. You’ve caught a two-hour train and another 90-minute shuttle bus to get there, all while carrying a backpack the size of a large boy. If you sit down and work out how much you’ve spent just to get here – to get here! – you’re probably down close to a grand. These are things you want to show off about on the cursed social media that is incrementally ruining your life. But getting the balance right is key. You need to make me – watching along at home on BBC Three – feel jealous of you, and not slightly sorry for you. That takes editing.

You’re allowed Instagram only – any tweets and I’m calling the police

First rule: the only thing less interesting than someone telling you about a dream they had is someone telling you about their festival experience, so veer away from word-based platforms (Twitter, Facebook). You’re allowed one permanent update to a visual platform – one Instagram post, for example – per day, no more; you’re allowed three transient updates, to Story or Snapchat, and that’s it. If you find yourself in a quiet corner checking and re-checking how many likes you got on a selfie of you with glitter under your eyes then you need to escort yourself off-site and directly home.

Festivalgoers at Coachella in 2019.
Insta-fail... festivalgoers at Coachella in 2019. Photograph: Scott Dudelson/Getty Images

I do not care about your battery life

… or data. Any “just popping on to Facebook in a rare moment of 4G coverage … Lizzo was schamazing!!!” update just makes me keenly aware that you’re wasting your already scant battery life on telling me what a good time you’re having and that’s the exact percentage of power you’ll need later when you lose all your friends in a dark field and can’t shout out for help because everyone’s yelling “DAN!”

Remember this isn’t Coachella

Coachella happened a couple of weeks ago and it is probably still fresh in your mind – all those influencers! All those celebrities! Hailey Bieber looking like a Greek statue slowly revolving on a ferris wheel! – but please also remember that this is Britain, not America, and that level of glam simply does not happen here. You can try to do full-face makeup in a tent with sweat dripping down it after a three-day diet of warm Jaffa Cakes, a multipack of crisps and an £8 field burger, but it’s not really going to stick. You can try casually wearing an off-the-shoulder white lace shawl but someone will get ketchup or vomit on it. You cannot flex down here in the British mud. You can only have fun.

Don’t @ an artist to say how much you liked their set, come on!

“Thank you @Stormzy,
[five hundred prayer hand emojis]—”
Come on. Come on.
Even you’re better than this.
Even you!

What festival tribe do you belong to?

Everybody yurts... the tribes of the modern festival. Illustration: Laurène Boglio

The more Fyre crew

People whose only idea of festivals has been handed down to them from pictures in the Metro of Kate Hudson holding a frozen margarita at Coachella. In short, these people are the reason Fyre festival got as far as it did. Overdressed, underprepared denizens of the pay-as-you-go posh bogs, their weekend ends on Saturday night, halfway through Shy FX, with a £190 Uber to the nearest Ibis.
Watch them watching: The 1975. “Oh my God. Isn’t he the guy who’s dating Gabriella Brooks?”
Festival of choice: Wilderness

The drugs nerd

You got greedy. You’ve bought 17 different research chemicals off the dark web, and now the entire weekend is going to be built around this baroque symphony of pharma. But as Buddha knew, there is no greater hell than the active pursuit of nirvana. As you insufflate your 4-Ho-Met with just a pinch of DXM, you find yourself obsessively wondering whether it couldn’t do with a dab of Phenibut to bring back the chill vibes you lose via the Hexen.
Watch them watching: Spiritualized: “Lightweight.”
Festival of choice: Boomtown

The straight-edger

In your ongoing quest for ascetic kicks, you’ve been dragged on to 2019’s sharpest lifestyle rocks: teetotalism. And now here you are at a festival, surrounded by 70,000 pissheads. Who knew that you could still pretend to have fun without alcohol? It’s not easy … if kombucha were beer, you’d be Oliver Reed on Russell Harty right now, and the sugar cravings only intensify as the night drags on and the pissheads get ever rowdier. “Anybody want to go halves on a Mars Bar?” you keep asking, at 3am, to zero response.
Watch them watching: Shane MacGowan. “It’s so unfair he’s still alive.”
Festival of choice: Camp Bestival

The £50 dandy

Five years ago, male festival attire ended at T-shirts and trainers. That was before online fast fashion and the Get the Look button. Now, the urban music festival is the mating ground of a certain kind of peacock whose entire “vibe” came in one single package from Asos. Chunky belt, shades, signet ring, pomade: it’s all in the details, looking this cheap. And if it pisses down all weekend and ruins your swag? Never mind, the whole lot came in at under £50.
Watch them watching: Brockhampton. “The realest group around.”
Festival of choice: Lovebox

The muser

Bands were fun while they lasted. But who can truly say that they’ve lasted? In this age of upheaval, frankly the only reason you’d decamp to a boggy pit in Suffolk is to hear Josie Long leading a discussion with Mark Steel about the rise of AI and its impact on universal basic income. AC Grayling in the Big Thinks Tent is your Jimmy Eat World at 4pm on the main stage at Reading. You are continually impressed with the calibre of engaged citizens you meet: it gives you hope. Meanwhile, one tent along, 20,000 people are welling up over Rag’n’Bone Man.
Watch them watching: “The Cure”. A discussion of the ethical limits of gene therapy.
Festival of choice: HowTheLightGetsIn

As the pop queen and her head-mic prepare for Glastonbury, we ask: which Janet are you?

Janet Jackson.
Janetary orbit... Ms Jackson. Photograph: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

Tell us honestly, how’s everything going right now?

A Great! But please don’t tell my dad.
B I am unimportant. You’re what really matters. Do let me know if I can help get you off crack.
C Pretty shitty, tbh. But it’s nothing a box of bright red hair dye shouldn’t be able to help. L’Oréal, do your worst.
D I’ve never felt this alive. While you’re here, do you mind me asking if you’re seeing anyone? Interesting. What you up to later? Come over? Promise I won’t make it weird. Please?

You’re off out for date night. What are you wearing?

A Excessive shoulder pads and the biggest hoop earrings I could find on the market.
B A stern military cap and black army fatigues. But I’m gonna have to leave early to volunteer at a local youth centre.
C Anything as long as it’s extremely tight and there are two Wonderbras underneath it.
D Freshly washed white Egyptian cotton bedsheets and a smile. HBU?

How do you like to spend your Saturdays?

A By stepping out from the ominous shadow of my domineering father and generally being a strong, no-bullshit force to be reckoned with. Then lunch at Cafe Rouge, probs.
B I’ll be up at 5am for military bootcamp in the park, then I’m serving breakfast at the homeless shelter and taking part in community workshops until I pass out from the sheer exhaustion of being so vigorously woke.
C Trying on latex leggings and then nipping down to Torture Garden to whip a few strangers. Then I will return home and weep until sunrise.
D Gleefully re-reading my divorce papers and hitting up Hinge for some fresh honeys. Seriously, what’s your number?

What’s the last show you binge-watched?

A Stranger Things. Give me that sweet, sweet retro programming.
B I have no time for television. Telly is the pacifier of the masses and, as my great pal Gil Scott-Heron once said, the revolution will not be televised. That said, series four of The Wire is extremely powerful.
C Killing Eve. I often think I’d make for quite a good sexually fluid trained killer with a sense of style.
D Sex Education. I see a lot of myself in Gillian Anderson’s powerfully randy matriarch. And yes, that is a hand-carved wooden dildo on top of the filing cabinet in my office. Do you like it?

Mostly A
Independent, sassy and more 1980s than a Rubik’s Cube in a wine bar, you’re Control-era Janet! Congrats on severing ties with your sinister father and making the best album of your career to date!
Mostly B Socially conscious, hyper-political and extremely badass, you’re Rhythm Nation-era Janet! You look really, really cool.
Mostly C Sensual but sad, you’re moody Velvet Rope-era Janet! Wanna talk about it, babes?
Mostly D Single and ready 2 mingle, you’re raunchy All for You-era Janet. We’ll come over later with a bottle of pinot.


Joel Golby, Gavin Haynes and Leonie Cooper

The GuardianTramp

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