What I Learned From My First Festival Experience

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One thing that you should know about my boyfriend, The Secret Agent is that he has more zest for life than many men half his age. If there’s a concert, art show, festival, opening or anything note worthy happening, he wants to be there to experience it. I partly attribute this to the years he spent living in New York City. His willingness to try new things and embark on adventures pushes me to do the same – one of the many reasons I like him so much.

With that said, as the months have passed (fun, adventure & music filled months…) I’ve learned that The Secret Agent and I have very different personalities. He is very much an extrovert who gets his energy from being out and about with other people; whereas I fall somewhere in between extrovert and introvert. I love being the life of the party, however when the party is over I’m more than happy to retreat back to my “mole hole” (the nickname I have for the bedroom/office that constitutes Skinny Dip HQ) for some quiet R&R (cue: books, blankets and podcasts.)

Now flashback to the night he and I met, when over drinks he brought up the Squamish Valley Music Festival. SVMF is a huge festival that takes place in the mountains, about a 40 minute drive from Whistler, BC. The Secret Agent has attended for the past few years. I’ve never been to a music festival. I love live music however, (thanks to multiple viewings of the Woodstock movie with my Mom over the years) I’ve always viewed music festivals as crowded, drug and mud-filled events with questionable toilet situations. I also don’t camp – at all – making me both an anomaly on the West Coast and (I presumed) ill prepared for a music festival.

However, as The Secret Agent told me about all of the acts he’d seen over the years, I could hear the excitement in his voice. Maybe I could enjoy a music festival? I mean, it’s now or never right?!

As I inch closer to my mid-thirties I’ve become way more aware of how we, as humans shape our own stories. Some of my proudest and most enjoyable moments over the past three years have come about when I’ve pushed myself outside of my comfort zone and challenged long held beliefs about myself. Can’t work out in the morning? Yeah, I was wrong about that. Can’t have a full-time freelancing biz and write a book? Wrong. Will never enjoy the music of Drake? Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

Although I knew these things about myself, when The Secret Agent purchased us two tickets to the festival and the weekend grew closer, I became anxious. Would the crowds and overall intensity of the festival be too much for me? What would I wear? Would everyone think I was an old lady if I didn’t show up to this thing in frayed daisy dukes and a crocheted vest? I mean, what is the deal with crocheted vests? OH MY GOD WHAT WILL THE BATHROOM SITUATION BE LIKE?

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Although the bathroom situation left a lot to be desired, that whole “music festivals aren’t my thing” refrain that’s been part of my story for the past 34 years – yeah, I was wrong about that too. I had a really awesome weekend. I heard so much amazing music in such a short time that it was completely surreal (Sam Smith, Gorgon City, Drake, Schoolboy Q, Alabama Shakes & A$AP Rocky were faves.) The Secret Agent even made a Joe the Intern t-shirt that he could wear while we enjoyed the festival & the gorgeous scenery in Squamish.

(Joe says, “I’m not too clear on what goes on in people’s bathing suit areas, but I like seeing my face on a t-shirt. I wish I had a t-shirt”)

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I also learned a few things from losing my festival experience, so here they are:

1. You have to let the music festival take you where it takes you – Similar to my philosophy on how to do Vegas, in order to have a good time at a music festival you just have to give in to the energy of the whole thing. In other words, you start having fun as soon as you stop worrying about that damn crocheted vest.

2. Wet Wipes are your friend – I’m so glad that I came armed with tons of anti-bacterial wipes and hand sanitizer…. because I needed it. Those porta-potties get really gross by the end of the day. For some reason they seemed to get extra disgusting on the day that Mumford and Sons headlined and I never figured out why. Come prepared, my friends!

3. You will have a new found appreciation for indoor plumbing of all kinds. Never will a shower and a real toilet seem so incredibly wonderful as they do after a full day festival-ing. Even the bathroom at Subway will seem luxurious in comparison.

SVMF 3(There’s lots to see and do at SVMF, so sometimes we had to split up to catch it all. Here’s Hammer taking in the very rainy A$AP Rocky show while Joe watches Hot Chip. Joe says, “Considering Hot Chip are from London, this was not what I was expecting. Where are the singing potatoes? The newspaper wrapping? THE GIANT DEEP FRYER?! These red laser lights though…“)

4. There will be lots of delicious food at your musical festival. That doesn’t mean you have to eat all of it. If you’re gluten and dairy intolerant, don’t decide to binge on mini-doughnuts and poutine every night. Just don’t. I learned this the hard way. Instead, stick to the stuff that you know is OK (like that really awesome Jerk Chicken food truck you discovered and those chocolate dipped strawberries on a stick that you’re still thinking about.)

5. You will come in contact with bare ass-cheeks. This can’t be avoided. Women don’t wear a lot of clothes to music festivals: fact. While getting ready to watch the A$AP Rocky show, I noticed a really attractive young woman wearing the bathing suit I’d just purchased from American Apparel and a pair of white sneakers. That’s it. The swimsuit shows a substantial amount of ass (this was another “it’s now or never!” purchase) and the crowd was tightly packed. As the crowd began to move to the music, my swimsuit twin’s semi-bare ass cheeks began to repeatedly slap my arm, which was clutching onto my cross body bag for dear life. No matter where I shifted my body I somehow came in contact with her butt cheeks. This is why Wet Wipes are your friend.

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(“For a safe festival experience, don’t Drake and Drive.” – Hammer.)

6. I can step out of my comfort zone and everything will be OK. (Except for those washrooms. Those will never be OK but you just have to roll with it.) About five years ago, I wrote about going on a roller coaster for the first time. My first festival experience felt very similar.

The thing that I was afraid of and thought was so beyond my comfort zone (going to a huge, boisterous festival in the mountains), really wasn’t. It was more a matter of letting go of that fear. I also learned when it comes to experiences like this, you just have to do things your way. I wore clothes that I feel comfortable in (cute flats & a collection of boho-ish trapeze dresses) and did the whole weekend sober (because day drinking makes me feel gross).

I learned that I actually love music festivals, but I will never be the drunk, half-naked girl in the fringed bikini, crowd surfing to Drake (and I am totally OK with that.)

The Secret Agent and I capped off our epic weekend by driving down to Seattle to see D’Angelo play – a concert that was nothing short of amazing & rivals Prince as one of the best performances I’ve ever seen.

I enjoyed myself so much that I’m already researching other festivals I can go to. So far I have my eyes on Voodoo Fest 2016 in NOLA. Who’s in?!

Oh how things change.

Have you ever been to a festival? What did you think?

How to Survive Fashion Week Without Looking Like a Jack-Ass

If you’ve been following my twitter or Instagram feed, you might already know that I spent March 19th-24th attending Vancouver Fashion Week and blogging for The Kit.ca. Although I’m not a fashion blogger, I’m definitely a fashion enthusiast and I have been fortunate to attend both Toronto and Vancouver Fashion Week several years in a row. Although Toronto Fashion Week is bigger, flashier and a much more star studded, I really enjoy attending Fashion Week in Vancouver because the event is more intimate and accessible. Attending Vancouver Fashion Week means never having your view of the runway partially obscured by Ben Mulroney’s hair (which, in case you wondered doesn’t move, at all, and therefore, totally haunts my nightmares)

Since a couple of you have asked me about what it’s like to attend these kinds of events, I thought I’d take a break from regularly scheduled dating, relationship and sexy time talk, to share with you guys a few things I’ve learned from my Fashion Week experiences over the years.

(The top middle photo is of me & my lovely blogger buddy Alison from Styling My Life)

1. Play nice. See those PR girls frantically running around the venue trying to seat everyone? Be nice to them. If you need something or a detail gets messed up (i.e. there’s someone sitting in your reserved seat), be firm but always be polite. Kindness is remembered. When it’s between seating you (the lowly journalist) in the front row or the heavily botoxed “VIP” who is throwing a hissy fit as we speak, those nice PR girls will hook you up. True story.

2. Don’t feel like you have to wear head-to-toe designer. Although you’ll definitely see people wearing their share of labels, a designer wardrobe is not required for attendance. With that said, just because you own a few designer items doesn’t mean you have to wear them all at the same time – actually, it’s probably better you don’t…and yes, woman with the Gucci print shoes, bag & matching pants I’m looking at you. As it turns out, many of the well-dressed people I spotted at Vancouver Fashion Week were actually wearing pieces that they’d purchased at Zara, Top Shop or made themselves. It all comes down to how you style yourself. I brought a nice pair of shoes and a decent looking handbag, but the majority of the stuff I wore during the week was actually from Joe Fresh, Material Girl, GAP (!) or thrifted.

3. Accept the fact that your feet will probably be uncomfortable for most of the week. I’m the kind of person who doesn’t feel particularly professional in flats. Because Fashion Week is technically “work” I wear heels to all the shows and events. Between standing around waiting for the shows, running between venues and meeting up with friends for dinner/drinks, my feet take a beating. My suggestion? Pack a pair of flats in your bag for the trip to and from the venue. If you have a pair of foldable flats even better.

4. Here are a few other things that you should pack in your fashion week survival kit: Bandaids (your feet will need them), protein or energy bars (some of the shows overlap meal-times and it’s good to have something to discretely munch on so you don’t pass out), a smart phone with a camera (for Tweeting, Instagramming and taking snap-shots of the looks), business cards (Fashion Week is a great networking opportunity. I actually forgot my business cards this year and felt like a total dolt.)

5. Leave your UGGs and DOGS at home. I don’t think there is anything wrong with UGGs per se. I wear them around the house, for walking in the snow or for other wintery/outdoorsy activities – but they do not belong at a fashion show. Same goes for flip flops, house shoes or (god forbid) Crocs. It doesn’t matter that you’re in Vancouver where everyone is “so laid back” – invest in a simple pair of pumps or ballet flats if you’re going to be attending Fashion Week.

You know what else doesn’t belong at Fashion Week? Your Dog! Yes, Hugo here is probably the most adorable pup I have ever seen, but he’s also terrified! Fashion shows are loud, chaotic and the music often reaches nightclub-like volumes. Not only is it totally distracting to bring your pet to a fashion show, it also sucks for the animal. It felt so bad for some of the dogs because you could see their owners were trying to cover their ears & soothe them during the shows so they wouldn’t freak out 🙁 Leave your dogs at home!!

6. Be aware that you’ll probably get hooked on a new, free soft drink beverage. Where there is a Fashion Week, there’s always someone promoting  a new, questionable “energy” beverage. I’m guessing that these companies equate Fashion Week with not eating or sleeping properly and therefore, assume everyone is looking for a caffeine boost – which, wouldn’t be entirely untrue. Let us not forget the time you spent a whole day drinking free Fuze Ice Tea at a charity pool party or the Vitamin Water Incident of 2010. The beverages are there, they’re free and you’ll probably try them. FYI, I think I’m still on a caffeine high from all the  Starbucks “Refreshers” I drank during Vancouver Fashion Week.

7. Don’t worry about taking photos. There’s no way you’re going to get high quality shots of the runway unless you’re a professional photographer, so don’t worry about it. You can get the professional photos sent to you by the PR reps after the event or find them online. However, do take a photos of some of your favourite looks and of the name of the show before it starts. You’re going to see so many looks throughout the week that it’s impossible to remember them all without a visual reminder.

8.  Remember, there’s no laughing, pointing or cat-calling in fashion. I’m thinking this might be a Vancouver thing because I never seen anyone do any of these things in Toronto however, I saw people do ALL OF THESE THINGS at VFW. Even if a model struts down the runway in something that looks like the lovechild of a potato sack and a beach ball, show some maturity & respect and keep your comments to yourself. Also whistling and cat-calling models while they’re trying to work is just skeezy. Ignoring my advice will likely make you look like a jack-ass.

9. Stay sober. It’s really, really tempting to drink during Fashion Week. There’s champagne to be purchased between shows and there’s ALWAYS an after-party somewhere. Fashion Week is hectic especially when you have other work to do (either at the office or freelance) and you’re trying to attend and write about as many shows as possible. Unless you love feeling like crap, it’s hard to party all night and keep up the pace. Instead of partying it up all week, on the last night of Vancouver Fashion Week I treated myself to a decadent seafood meal and a glass of Pinot Grigio with some of the lovely blogger ladies below.

10. Don’t be a stranger. Talk to people! If you play your cards right you might end up meeting some Real Housewives and making some new friends!

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(With Mary and Christina of The Real Housewives of Vancouver, who were super nice & friendly!)

( Blogger Buddies! L-R – Me,  Britta, Nina and Allison)

What do you guys think? Did I miss anything?!

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