Elle Ayres explores why festivals are a utopia for escapism…
A place where social expectation is suspended. Romance, age and identity exist within the most fluid of frameworks. A natural environment to escape to.
What is this magical place? I hear you ask with a mix of scepticism and hope. It’s called a green world and as is its nature, it’s not a fixed place… but it is a place I can almost guarantee that you’ve visited.
The term green world was first coined by the critic Northrop Frye in The Anatomy of Criticism in 1957. It is a concept commonly used with reference to Shakespearean works where the characters escape the city to a natural oasis. In such a place, through an array of strange and exciting happenings, the issues present in their city lives are not able to return with them when they re-enter.
A green world picks out the place where hopes, fears, loves, hates and all the tangling of ordered life are set free. It’s Carnivalesque: it’s mad but it’s fantastic. And it’s necessary.
Sound familiar? Did you spend a few a days and nights in summer dancing and singing in a muddy feel dusted in glitter offering your drink to a friend you’ve just made with wide saucepan eyes? Thought so.
Festivals are a real life dose of a green world.
We love a music festival. We love wearing flowers in our hair, wearing too few clothes and too much glitter (is there such a thing?) as we sing, drunk off our little heads on music and whatever else we can get our hands on. It’s fanatic and mental, and yet utterly calm.
It’s cyclical; there will be another festival next summer. At the risk of sounding a little too Freudian, we need an emotional outlet and, realistically, we don’t have the time and energy to resolve and conquer a lot of the things that bother us on a day to day basis. That’s why we like art, literature, music, nights out, parties, drugs, alcohol and dancing. The supressed can run free and in running free they are exposed and so can be resolved. It’s escapism but at the same time it’s facing our problems head on. You turn away only to do a full 360. A festival is *the* green world, that all the mini doses of parties and nights out and music have been leading up to. The calm and the storm.
Sure a ticket is expensive so you’re demographic is typically middle class but within that you meet a diverse mix of people from toddlers to people nearly 70. You’ll have some of the best conversations of your life and you probably won’t remember any of them but you’ll carry the effects forward with you.
Everyone is friendlier (I mean who isn’t best pals with Alan?) there are bubbles floating, there’s a man doing yoga in the mud, that same mud is the offender that stole your wellington boot and thus the indirect reason that you are receiving a piggyback ride to the mainstage. He liked your poncho. I heard he woke up in your tent the next morning; but it isn’t reason for concern or embarrassment, because this is not real life. This is the other.
A festival is a care-free environment centred on fun. Maybe it’s care-free because we’ve stopped being so damn obsessed at keeping everything together. It’s not that we’re actually care-free: it’s that we’ve stopped caring that we’re not. The ultimate cleanse purely because deep down, we know it’s temporary.
A green world, a festival, is all the potency of life condensed into a weekend. It makes us feel. It makes us let go and because it only happens every so often we don’t fear this. Sure things escalate quicker but there’s always something else around the corner to take the limelight.
It’s intense and incessant and for a beautiful few messy days and nights it’s exactly what our sanity craved.
Follow Elle on Twitter: @AyresElle
Illustration: Sophia Maria