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Festival Season: More Than Just Music

By Samantha Roman

I went to my first festival (VELD 2015) just last year. I did not know what to expect, how to dress and the etiquette involved. There were good and bad parts. People were excited, but like any venue, a few bad apples.

I had tweeted that I was here. Immediately, I received responses like “Me too!” and “Same!” from strangers on the Internet. I felt like I was part of the community.

(Photo: Elif Ray/Visualbass)

My mom had come with me to the festival; and this is where it starts to hurt. As much as I tried to focus on the festivities, I didn’t want people disturbing my mom or making her uncomfortable. For the most part, it was okay. We sat in the shade and another boy and his mom sat beside us also taking camp. We’ll call him ‘Steve’. They were talking to each other as parent and child do, which led to a conversation with my mom and bonding between us. Steve had a disability and his mom was there to watch over him. He wanted to go into the crowd but his mother was tired. I said I would take him, and instinctively Steve and I became best friends. I wasn’t much of a dancer. I’m the type to sit on the wall and take in the music. But Steve wanted to dance. He pointed out all the funny costumes and asked if I could take his picture.

To be honest, I can’t tell you what bands were playing off the top of my head. But I remember every conversation I had with Steve. This was his domain. He loved it. We went back to where our moms were sitting and the rest is history.

But when I got home and opened Twitter, I read one tweet that broke my heart. “Why did people bring their moms lol” tweeted one guy. I got so angry. Why? It’s not like it was intended for me. Someone was just making a statement. Well, tweeter, people bring their moms for different reasons. My friends were busy, Steve’s mom is a caretaker, and a variety of other reasons. What does it matter to you, I thought. They didn’t know Steve. The same person would have loved to meet him and his mom had we all met face to face. Again, this had nothing to do with me. It was a tweet by a person I didn’t know. But by a person who would probably change their answer if they cared to investigate.

My job is not to tell you that people online are cruel, but to get you to understand that perception is everything. The music was great, and watching Steve felt like watching a million rock and roll concerts in a row. He didn’t care who was watching him dance. He wanted to make a friend, and so did I after meeting him. It’s more than just about the music. It’s about the people.