I recently came back from a trip to Pula, Croatia – and by trip, I mean I went to a music festival and explored the town it was in, once. (That’s still a trip in my opinion).
It was my first solo trip to a festival and was great. I’d previously gone back to good old Deutschland for a potential job and all was well there, so I thought for graduating and moving on with career orientated goals, I would treat myself to a week of sun and music.
The festival was located in an old fort, (Punta Christo), and it was such a beautiful space to hear, experience and enjoy music. Each time you entered, you found something new to discover, a new walkway, a new food stand, interesting/questionable dance moves -all in all, a very vibrant place.
The space was a lot bigger than prior festivals I’d attended and a week was plenty of time to explore it all. The festival itself was only three days, but I actually got there early to set up camp and also go to the opening concert, which was located in the second oldest amphitheater in the world. (I just missed Kamasi Washington’s set, but stayed for Massive Attack, who I’d already seen a couple months prior at British Summer Times Festival in London).
I was fortunate enough to bump into some beautiful people whilst there. A lovely French/Polish couple who I ended up camping with. A., whom I’m pictured with above- such a lovely spirit, always a go-getter, a hilarious group of Belgians and a wonderfully odd fellow from Nottingham. To be frank, my main fear would be to not meet anyone. That sounds silly I know, but the nature of a festival often ensures that you enjoy things in group activities. Accommodation, food, tickets are all issued with the intention of two persons or more and initially that put me off.
The fear didn’t last long and whereas I could have put more effort into going out and fraternising, I was very happy with the acquaintances I’d made. Solo travel to festivals took a lot of balls for me and it paid off. I remember on the first night, once my tent was pitched and my stomach full, I decided to go for a walk. I ended up sitting with a guy on a ledge watching the first sunset. His name was B. B. talked to me about the festival, the stars, his nerves about going into his second year of university but also how there was a beach party going on. I went with him, got a drink, met a couple of his friends but then kinda’ moved into my own groove.
Next thing, I’m chatting away with A. (whom I’d already seen twice that day), I meet the Belgians and two interesting Frenchman, with whom I rekindled with during the last set. Most importantly, I learnt to be aware of the ‘now’; to enjoy that moment then and there, because only I would ever experience it that way. I guess I’m saying if I didn’t make the decision to take a walk, those things would not have happened and I would be writing about a less exciting account.
A. made a good point to me on the last day about listening to your intuitions. Throughout the festival she had no qualms going up to talk or dance with people and I felt slightly miffed that I couldn’t do it as well as she did, or if at all. There was something genuine in her ability to connect with people and that glow is something I will try to keep with me in future endeavours.
Key example: I remember we were dancing to The Yussef Kamaal Trio and she said we should move into the sunset light. She said it was the last sunset of the festival and we shouldn’t miss it. Hunee was slowly setting up his decks and we moved closer to the light. The result is that beautiful picture of us above. The photographer said it would be great to catch our silhouettes in the light and man, I’m so glad we did it. Perhaps it was coincidental, but she trusted herself enough to move and I have learned, that it’s trusting yourself that not only makes for great travelling, but establishing beautiful connections with people.
I didn’t spend the whole festival in their company, nor did I want to. Other than the odd times A. and I danced together or M. and I whined to Drum n’ Bass, I walked from set to set alone and it was much better that way. I got to listen to whatever caught my ear, rested when I wanted to and be in my own element. As a result, I managed to meet Nai Palm from Hiatus Coyote who told me I was beautiful (still not over that yet) after making sure I was front row for their set. I also managed to see the great Larry Heard and later on at the same stage, Motor City Drum Ensemble; who is honestly so incredible and was even better than his Dekmantel set the year before.
Although there are a few things I wish I did differently, ultimately, I wouldn’t change a thing. I caught a great tan, shared some good vibes and actually had time to relax and think things through. Already I’m thinking of my next destination, in the mean time; there is work to be done in order for me to get there.
My only hope is that A.’s glow will slowly become my own and I can really go on with no fear, no doubts and certainly no regrets.