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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Crystal Precious First Timer Guide to Festival Raving

Performing at Shambhala's Rock Pit, now the Ampitheatre. Photo courtesy Grounded TV

Greetings Festival Sasspots! 

Welcome to The Crystal Precious First Timer's Guide to Festival Raving: 2015 Edition!! 

This guide is intended for anyone heading out to a festival for the very first time, or for anyone wanting a little refresher and hopefully a laugh or two at my horrifying trial and errors. With edits, new intro, and super important info I somehow missed earlier (like how simply brushing your teeth can somehow re-set your whole mood out there -- no for real, that actually works), this comprehensive list of practical preparation shit so you can spend less time learning all of it the hard way and and more time discovering the most amazing stages, music & people EVERRRR!!! BEHOLD, the glory of the internet! Howwww pleasant. PLEASE SHARE, post, forward, etc...  And thank you for reading! 

OHHH!! Also if you find what you read enjoyable, might I humbly suggest downloading my awesome remastered record with Self Evident on East Van Digital and like, blasting it on the way to the festival SUPER LOUD, or while packing REALLY LOUD, or while dancing in your tiny underpants REALLY LOUD. I feel you might ALSO enjoy that. Because I would. Yes. Yes I would. (moustache twirl). :) BUTT I digress. LET'S GET STARTED shall we?? 

MCing the 2010 Bass Coast Mud Wrestling Competition

As a former Winnipegger, I still often indulge in dramatically describing the near culture-shock I suffered upon my transition from the ghetto Manitoba flatlands to the organic-eating-MEC-wearing-non-smoking-bicycle-luvin’ Coast. Let me tell you tho, NOTHING could have prepared me for my initial foray into the unparalleled West Coast phenomenon of “big outdoor electronic music party”. So in honour of 12 years passing since my first Shambhala and in honour of the FUCKING EXCELLENT Bass Coast Project (which is my favourite ever and gonna be so so so amazing this year, I'm seriously dying.. ohhhh and NEW SWEET SOUL girl Villainy Loveless will be there doing her first EVER festival, whutttt), I've updated my Winnipegger’s Guide to Shambhala, or as it will now be called, “The Crystal Precious First Timer's Guide to Festival Raving”. 

I’m genuinely excited for you to have an amazing and hopefully enlightening weekend that you’ll never forget. Cause trust me, the first time I hit Shambhala (the mecca of all Canadian raves) I sure as fuck did. Basically, this kind of outdoor festival
 is a whole temporary community and infrastructure coming together so that people can enjoy super cool underground art, music and experiences with each other IN THE MOST IDEAL SETTING EVER --- aka perfect nature and sexy, smart / conscious / open-minded people everywhere, and not a corporate advertisement in site. Yahh!! Party all day and night at multiple stages with the best sound systems ever with mountains, beaches, forests all my best friends and camp in between? UM... YES PLEASE... 

Cue 2003. You have NO idea how clueless I was. Oh geez. I ran in head first thinking, "Hey, it’s not like I’m completely hopeless! I HAVE been to the Winnipeg Folk Festival", and THAT, as all prairie folk will know, is a pretty impressive outdoor music party. Well, LISTEN THE FUCK UP: this is NOT Folk Fest, bitches. It's not your average giant outdoor concert either.   Do not increase your chances of experiencing the awful FOMO (fear-of-missing-out due to lack of preparation). Don't forget that you're spending your precious dollars, time off and serotonin on this. Let me be the sorry ass-bitch that learned the hard way for both of us. Here are the most important things to remember if you’re headin’ out to a multi-day electronic music fest.  

1. THERE ARE NO CAMP FIRES. This is the biggest difference from Wpg Folk Fest and a glaringly absent part of the camping experience. Apparently the people in this province actually care if everything around them burns down where as in Manitoba people purposely burn shit down all the time. But for real, there will not be any fires anywhere… so that means you will need LIGHT & HEAT. Bring LIGHT FOR YOUR CAMP (a flashlight, heandlamp, LED’s or a LANTERN), your personal flashlight so you don't fall into a giant hole to your waist like Cara did one time (SO ALARMING). Make sure someone in your crew has a CAMP STOVE if you’re wanting to cook shiz. And remember you won't have the heat of the fire. So bring warm clothes .... because..

2) It gets FUCKING COLD at night. Cold is something we Wpggers know about and we laugh maniacally at the idea that it gets uncomfortably cold anywhere in BC in the summer, but TRUST ME, it does. I brought about 10 000 bikinis the first year and one sweater… DO NOT MAKE THIS MISTAKE!!!! Bring long pants, warm leggings or long underwear, SWEATERS/HOODIES, little mitties even (for real) and lots of shiz to sleep in. You will be cold. Honest. And I'm not some BC wimp either. .. no offense. 

BEDDING SET-UP NOTE: If you can, I absolutely recommend bringing straight-up sheets & a heavy blanket or comforter instead of a sleeping bag. If you use the blanket to line the backseat of your vehicle it doesn't really take up much more room... and it's just better. Then you can toss off a layer as the sun comes up and things get hot in your tent. It's also much nicer for guest action or snugs (raver lingo for platonic post-party come-down snuggling). If things get damp overnight you can it hang it to dry during the day. Also a pillow is key. Your bunched up hoodie with the beer spill on it just won't compare, trust me, it's worth the packing room, And I personally recommend a foamie mattress as a first option, but if that's not plausible do the air mattress. I tend to find air mattresses will eventually deflate a bit no matter how diligent you are, so I bought myself the $20 power pump so I just pump it up a bit each night. Worth every effin' penny. Either way, a little layer of air between you and the earth somehow keeps things that much toastier.

It’s SO worth it to have a $5 tarp to lay under your tent so that if it rains, you're doubly sure it won't soak through the floor of your tent, which is SUPER low-sass because it makes things damp and yucky. You should probably be able to get all this stuff into one Rubbermaid stacker. I pretty much pack all my stuff into Rubbermaids (REAL Rubbermaid Roughnecks that last forever, not the cleap plastic crappy ones that crack): one for my tent, tarps & bedding; one for my dry foods, mix and dishes, and oh, say, seven or eight for my outfits & accessories. I'm super dead serious. I need choice ummmkayyyy. 

One of my more subtle stances -- Shambhala 2009
Speaking of outfits and packing layers: while you're in the dance-y areas and busting a move, things can get a bit warmer, although these moments are fleeting. Kind of annoying cuz awesome dance outfits are usual small and/or tight (at least for me they are)... and rocking them with huge sweaters over them is akin to Winnipeg Hallowe'en where your mom forces you to wear your snowsuit OVER your costume to go trick-or-treating (big sadface). One thing the Sweet Soul grrlz have been known to do is wear our sparkly show-girl outfits underneath big fuzzy cloaks sewn out of blankets. Dancing our asses off moments: showgirl outfits. Walking from stage to stage moments: fuzzy cloaks. Another option is to add leggings and shrugs to whatever small outfit. Also just the act of covering your head with a fuzzy hat & keeping your feet dry (more on that in a sec) somehow makes the rest of you feel warmer automatically.

If you plan on being somewhere for awhile, you can set up a home base at the outskirts of say, the beachstage with your crew... bring a blanket on which you can leave your drink, water & extra layers. Just make sure it's in sight and don't leave your moneybelt or fanny there, obvs. That's why those things strap to your body!

In general everyone should generally be on the lookout for each other and each other's stuff… because a huge part of the whole "conscious" / rave / PLUR movement is mutual respect for other people & their shit. Thieving is SUPER SUPER looked down upon (I know I don't have to say that but I will anyway) and if you find something you can turn it in or leave a note on the msg board!! And make a new friend as a result, usually, who will LOVE YOU.  Karma reigns supreme here.

3) KEEP YOUR FEET HAPPY. Remember that part in Forrest Gump where Lt. Dan starts screaming at everyone about how their socks and feet need to stay dry in the jungle to survive? Well it's the exact same thing, except by "Lt Dan" I mean ME, by "jungle" I mean RAVE & by "survive" I mean NOT BECOME HORRIBLY MISERABLE. 

The sites are quite large; you’ll do a LOT of walking, more than you realize, and dancing on the roots / dirt and the uneven ground can be hard on your feet. Ok so I brought heels the first year. Shut up. I’m Crystal fucking Precious, dammit. I wear heels to the fucking beach. But for real, even if your footwear are SUPER durable and rugged, they will get werked. So don't bring the super fresh shiny kicks you use as a backup mirror. And while we're talking sneakers I would also recommend bringing something other than Chucks as they are made out of canvas and will somehow soak through easily in the morning dampness. AGAIN: Don’t bring shoes you really like unless they’re hella heavy duty leather boots or something. Every year I sacrifice a pair of almost dead sneakers to the rave gods and then throw them out after. 

BRING A PAIR OF RAINBOOTS (and while you're at it, AT LEAST one waterproof jacket / clothing item). The weather forecast might say it won’t rain but.... it might. If it rains, the forest paths become GIANT mud puddles and I lost a pair of sneakers in one the first year I went. They sank in the mud faster than Atrayu’s horse. It was a sad, sad moment for me. DON'T LET THEIR DEATH BE IN VAIN.

So yeah, I generally would say your basic footwear set-up should be as follows: dancing sneakers, flipflops, rubber boots & lots of dry, clean socks. A tip from Tre, king of the original Camp Fuckr'd pirates: Wanna be a hero? Spend a few bucks on a big bag of new socks and bust that shit out for everybody on Day 3. Putting brand new, fuzzy, never before-worn socks on the third day feels like a frickin' foot blowjob. Ohhhhhhhhh yeahhhhhhhhh. 

Walking one of the many Bass Coast site paths in 2014 - photo by Zipporah Lomax

4) It gets FUCKING HOT during the day. Like, itty bitty teeny weeny bikini bottoms only hot. Bring a shade structure for your camp or you will DIE / get no sleep. At BassCoast there are many many sweet-ass tree-covered camping spots to enjoy if you get there on Friday... but at Shambhala you will most likely end up in the massive NO SHADE camping grounds (unless you're bombing in there Braveheart style on Tuesday & paying extra). Either way, the white caravan style pop up tent is ideal, or the more ghetto fabulous version, a giant tarp tied to bamboo poles slid  over re-bar pounded into the ground. Don't freak out, re-bar is totally no big deal. It's just 3 foot lengths of 1cm thick steel rod you can buy at Home Depot for cheap. Then you pound that shit halfway into the ground with a mallet, slide the bamboo pole over it, and no fall-ey (bamboo is very inexpensive, I suggest Home Hardware on the Drive or pretty much anywhere in ChinaTown). Don't forget garbage bags & a bag for recycling to hang somewhere. For butts, small Tylenol travel tubes do the trick. Make sure to peer pressure your friends not to throw their butts, or any litter, on the ground. A disapproving look should suffice. If not don't be afraid to point a Finger of Judgement at them.

There is a river of refreshing goodness in which to bathe & swim, & the best is bringing a camping chair and sitting in the rivah drinking out of your bottled beverage with lots of sunscreen on. And a parasole. And a cabana boy. Maybe two. Keep your other bevvies cold by putting them in a bag and hooking them around your chair... the river becomes a cooler. WERK.

5) DON'T BECOME DEAF. Ever noticed that after festival season people are screaming normal conversations at each other? "HI HOW ARE YOU!????!!!!" "GREAT!!! YOU??!!!" Yeah... that's because they're deaf now. The sound at these festivals is state of the art, but it WILL destroy your hearing FOREVER if you aren't careful. And the music doesn't stop for four days. So bring earplugs and then bring more earplugs. Let me put this into perspective: the system at the Commodore is like 12000 watts. The PK system in the Village is apparently approx. 100 000 watts, or EIGHT times louder than that. And that's just one stage. Your human ear drums just can't compete with that. They will melt. DON'T BE A DAY-SCREAMER. Get plugs. 

You may have noticed that orange / yellow & pink foam earplugs sort of muffle sound and can fall out and generally suck. Yeah, I noticed that too. They are still always better than nothing. The GOOD thing about foam pluggies is that they are comfortable, cheap and plentiful, so using them when you're sleeping is ideal (don't forget when you’re setting up camp to check if that structure nearby is the trance stage. This seriously happened to me the first year… can’t really talk about it still).

However, if you are feeling like foam plugs are fucking with your ability to hear music properly I would invest in a pair of Ear Buddies (available at all Puff locations). They are about $25 - $30. They just seem to turn everything down a little without muffling things too much. If you feel like the ol' foam plugs aren't gonna do it for you, DO THIS, cuz for real, your hearing is worth $25 for eff's sake. Don't worry, I promise that you will still be able to "feel" the bass (especially if you are on awesome MDMA). 

ALSO: I'm sure that there are some rare exceptions, but in general it seems that people tend to NOT enjoy amplified music, instruments or megaphones early morning in the campground. I mean, obviously people are still going to be up and partying in the morning, but blasting your favourite bro-step banger out the back of your car is sure to get you more dirty looks than throwing a Styrofoam cup in the river (uhhh... prolly don’t do that either). But for real. HEADPHONES - thing. And I still laugh my ass off when I remember a certain DJ, having traveled for about three days and then staying up all night to play, finally found somewhere reasonably quiet to crash, only to have someone set up a djembe near his tent and start hammering on it SUPER HARD at about 8am --- off rhythm. For eff's sake hippie-ahh!!! Drum near the river away from tents at that hour!!! I know you’re contributing your inner rhythm and shit, that's cool, whatever.. but for the LOVE of SASS, pick your moments. Ummkayyy? 

Cherry & I leaning in at The Village (in earplugs!) in 2009

6) GET YOUR BOOZE IN. Officially the events are usually “booze free” and the gate will search you upon arrival, ummmkay??? And they will. Trust. So. Be creative. Bring a tinted, lidded reusable bottle (like the canteen types at MEC) if you want to carry around your beverage as YOU CANNOT drink out of your beer cans / bottles openly ANYWHERE. Security is obligated to dump your booze if they see it, but generally they’ll leave you alone if you’re simply enjoying an unidentifiable beverage in a reusable container. The security works hard enough as it is so take the extra step and don’t make them booze police you, it sucks for them and plus, booze is precious cuz going for a beer run is kind of not really an option… it’s super hard / sometimes impossible to get out of the site once you’ve driven in and are parked. Totes not worth the risk having it dumped out. You'll thank me on Sunday ;)

How much booze should you bring? The general consensus on this formula is to estimate the amount of booze you think you'll be able to drink during the weekend, then double it. Trust me on this. I have no idea why the amount of booze you are able to consume somehow doubles... I think it has to do with being awake for most of the weekend and you being outside all the time. But it really does happen. Don’t skimp on this because you don’t want to be sober on the last day of the event, trust me, it’s depressing enough as it is.

One thing a few of my friends & I been doing the last few years is pre-mixing booze with juice / cocktail bases and then just adding soda or pop on the site. Ex: fill a large jug of cranberry juice with one part vodka, 2 parts cran, reseal and smuggle in. Then just top it off with soda in your cup on site. This is an awesome way to do things for the following 2 reasons: 1) Easier to sneak in booze - no alcohol bottles! 2) Your booze-juice ration remains consistent. Ever notice how at the beginning of the night you pour a proper drink, but somehow near the end of the night you're pouring gasoline-strength nearly straight booze shit-mixes, only to realize that it tastes like poison and then randomly leaving it somewhere? Yeah me too. Trust me, having it at least pre-mixed with juice tends to make your booze LAST LONGER. Obviously don't pre-mix with the pop as it will go flat; add it on site with a fresh lime... and.. ahhh!

Also: grab block ice for your food/beer cooler, not bags of ice cubes, as the blocks melt more slowly. Also in your food cooler, put things in tupperware containers & ziplocs, not plastic bags, if you want them to stay dry. Keep your coolers COMPLETELY CLOSED & out of the sun, and you should be golden. You can even reuse individual plastic water / drink bottles by putting pre-mixed drinks into them and FREEZING them... then throw those into your cooler - alcoholic Ice Packs. YUM!! Extreme Dedicated Raver Tip: A $40 converter for your vehicle turns into electricity for your blender. Yeah, you’ll have to start the car for a few seconds while you blend, but if it means slushie Margarita’s, ummm, WHO GIVES A FUCK. Just don’t go buck crazy and kill your battery by accident. This will require extra ice cubes but oh, will you be SO SO SO popular. OH SO popular. Especially with me. Heh heh heh. 

7) WATER IS RAVEFORCE. Pure and simple. Let's talk about why water should be at the base of your EVERY RAVING MOMENT and why people who don't drink enough water are INVITING PAIN AND SUFFERING into their raving lives. (And yes, my voice did totally echo menacingly for that last sentence).

Take a minute to think about much water do you drink every day in regular life. Now... think about if you were CONSTANTLY exercising all day long. You'd drink more right? Now what if you were constantly exercising (because at a festival you kind of are, as outlined in #3 even if it doesn't feel like it), but in the FUCKING HOT SUN (#4)??? Feelin' me? Ok NOW, imagine doing ALL those things WHILE at the SAME TIME guzzling a substance that is in and of itself ALSO actively pulling water out of your system. YUP. It's a 4 dehydrator stacker: being alive, exercising, sun, and alcohol. That's why nine times out of ten, if you are ever feeling anything except radness at the rave, chances are, water is your answer.

DRINK WATER ALL FUCKING DAY. Like all fucking day. I'm talking AT LEAST refill your bottle ever hour / hour and a half and for SURE whenever you grab a fresh bevvy. Also please note, once again, beer = not water. Cider = not water. Tasty, but not water. Drink your drink, then drink your water, refill both :) This is especially important on the third day when you've been at it all weekend you really need the raveforce for that last night of raging. Cut your water once and awhile with some gatorade, or slam a coconut water or Emergen-C every day to replace your electrolytes, and you'll be maximizing your ability to rave. Rave hard you must.

Now here's something you may not know. Equally as important as drinking that water is getting it out of your bladder. No for real. A lot of what you drink will be taken care of by your quadruple stack of sweat-inducing dehydrators, but one of the major “design” flaws in designer drugs like K and MDMA is that they can lessen that “I have to pee” sensation while you're all blissed out. That combined with being all distracto by oh, I don't know, the GIANT PARTY happening, can make it hard remember to pee sometimes... and that is only further exaggerated by the fact that the porta pottie line-ups do not exactly seeming enticing. But you gotta get that out, its no bueno sittin' having a full bladder all the time for a whole wack of reasons. Gotta P on K ummmkayyy? Conveniently those two letters are printed on pretty much every one of those crazy awesome speakers at Shambs so hopefully that can serve as your effin' reminder from now on. :) 

I personally find if I look at a porta pottie trip as “something I'm doing now” as opposed to looking at it like “leaving the party to pee”, it can actually be kinda fun and a place to meet new peeps, especially cuz you're not in front of a massive speaker and can actually say things to each other. Honestly I've met some rad people in line-ups and had some pretty hilarious times. Line-ups are just part of the adventure of going to giant festivals, so take advantage of it any way you can. And this should go without saying but if you are going for a re-up at camp, ALWAYS ALWAYS just try to pee... you may be surprised what's in there! 

Neon ninja 1 of 7! Crew outfits in 2009

8) TRY TO AVOID THE TEMPTING FALL-BACK THAT YOU’LL BUY THINGS WHEN YOU GET THERE. Smokes and essentials will be mad expensive, so take a sec and pack it. There are rad things to eat there at the vendors, but peeps usually pay top dollar to get into the vending area so they will have to charge accordingly. 

If you smoke, the same booze formula applies: Normal estimated amount X 2. And I'm a vaper, but I'm not going to pretend I won't want real smokes when I'm effed up. That's just bullshit. :) I seriously advise on considering DRUM or loose tobacco and rolling papers if they do the trick for you. Yeah if you’re not used to it it can seem messy and ghetto, but the tobacco is fresher, less additives, and you’ll probably tend to smoke less, which in Raver math is still more than usual but just maybe not double. Your lungs will thank you on Sunday. Also you will be more inclined to share smokes, and there’s nothing like sitting with someone for a sec to roll both of you a smoke. Perfect visit / get-to-know-you moment and you will be someone’s nic-fit hero... a nice feeling. If you're a tailor-mades, bring a carton and hide half the packs from yourself until you go through the first half. If you don’t smoke them all (you probably will but whateves) you will still smoke them eventually. DON’T fall into the all-too-tempting bullshit trap of packing less than you need and thinking that you will ration them out. You won’t. Remember: you will probably forget your own name at some point. So be prepared. Trust me. 

9) HAVE A SYSTEM WHEN CAMPING & RAVING WITH YOUR FRIENDS. When raving with a group, or planning to, its never a bad idea to plan ahead and bring stuff to have a central kind of area in your camp with a shaded table, some camping chairs and a lantern; its somewhere to kind of sit around so you can all tell each other stories when you come back and laugh your asses off. BRING LED LIGHTS, preferably to light up something hilarious sticking up from the tent so you can find your way home. Hunting for your camp when shit is dark and blurry takes up valuable raving time, so make it easy on yourself, self. :)

Usually attached to our table with duck tape is a lighter on a string (so that person who always steals it can't) and a couple of printed out schedules. Sometimes if we're feeling REALLY organized we would check out the sched in the morning or at dinner and highlight the DJs that we were sorta planning on seeing that day/night, so that if someone got separated or distracted they could come back to camp, check it and have a general idea as to where we'd be-ish. (That's if we're really organized.) OH YEAH – bring a cheap watch or whatever you used before phones ran our lives. And I STRONGLY suggest taking a break from your phone the whole time. It is awesome, for real, try it. There's little to no service anyway, and besides, people don't generally like having their pic taken while they're high. I totally don't. Also then you won't have to worry about losing it on a dance floor or putting it down somewhere and then wasting time looking for it. Just leave it in the care eh?

During the day at the beach, you can bring a land-marker and dig that into the ground on another piece of bamboo / beach umbrella. Then your crew can find you easily. Again, I recommend something that is symbolic to you or perhaps pokes fun at something about your crew. That way when Sleepy Gonzales wakes up at 4pm or wanders back to camp, he sees the landmarker's gone and he can easily saunter to the beach stage with one eye open and see you guys. DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE HOW MANY PEOPLE WILL BE THERE. 

One important thing.. when that final last night comes, ALWAYS have a conversation with your crew as to when clean / pack up should be the next day BEFORE you head out for the night. This is because you will NOT want to talk about it after you've been up all night and your adrenaline has died and the harsh cold reality of leaving has hit you. You will be grouchy and annoyed, and you also won't want to look for your friends to get things happening. Reeks of effort, trust. Packing up itself is hard enough. So make a general time-frame plan for the next day pack up BEFORE sun goes down and then come back for it and stick to it. You can always leave later in the day if you guys decide to; but at least you'll be packed up, together. 

(OH- AND. TAKE ALLLLL (ALL) YOUR SHIT WITH YOU. All. Apparently breaking that unwritten rule is seriously frowny-faced upon and your neighbours and organizers point the aforementioned Finger of Judgement at you for it after. I learned that the hard and very embarrassing way my first year.. fear the shame my friends. Fear it. The Finger will point at your abandoned broken tent or your uneaten watermelon / fruit rinds (it will not "biodegrade" for like 3 months umkay. Leaving that shit is just summoning a bug rave). The Finger will also point at your garbage/recycling if you don't take it with you or put it EXACTLY where it's supposed to go. Organizers (and their Fingers) pay attention because they have to clean up your shit while swearing and asking everyone "whose camp this was". Don't let it be yours. 

Dollhouse Camp identifyer before I added LEDS, 2008

10) BE PREPARED TO LOSE YOUR FRIENDS, because at some point you will. Try to just BE OKAY about that. Go with the flow. The first year I went to Shambs I probably spent about two thirds of the time kinda stressed out looking for my friends and one third actually enjoying the party. Don't do that. Enjoy the party. Relax. Take the opportunity to explore the stages and grounds on your own terms for a minute; meet new people! Getting lost / solo missions are actually REALLY key parts of any festival experience for that reason alone. This is also one of the biggest reasons I recommend dress-ups. It’s like SOO way easier to meet people & then find your friends when you are in their proximity, and also I’m MUCH more likely to make-out with you. :)

A FEW WORDS ON GETTING READY AND MOVING AROUND WITH A GROUP: One of the things I see the most this people or couples getting irritated with each other because one feels like they are constantly waiting for the other to finish dawdling or getting ready. To be fair, looking fabulous/ridiculous/badass takes much-appreciated effort. Doing it while being super high can take a hot fucking minute ummmkay. Trust me, I understand. Unfortunately during that minute you or your friend's favorite DJ could be finishing, so I have some tried and true tips on minimizing getting-ready time in the next paragraph. In the meantime this is a great opportunity to use your communication skills with your crew so you don't have them angrily breathing down your neck. AKA: be honest about what you need to do and how long its going to take.

If everyone is getting ready to go out for the night, for example, confer and decide as a group when you are all wanting to leave (this will take some compromise, but BE as HONEST about it as you can and negotiate something realistic. If its not realistic, plan to go in two groups, or whatever). Then STICK TO THE PLAN. That means that if time you agreed on comes and you're still not ready, you have to BE OK with them leaving without you. Sawwwry 'bout it. But again, don't be afraid to split up if necessary... see previous paragraph. Same goes if you want to get somewhere and your group/partner in crime keeps stopping to play or talk to people and it's frustrating you. Be honest with what you want to do, and then if they don't feel like they want to rush, COMMUNICATE verbally with them, and then just leave them do their thing... and go do yours. It's all good.

Impromptu mohawk club! Living Room Stage 2007 with the amazing Paul Hendricks 


NO ONE likes being the one people are waiting on. It makes getting ready kind of stressful when it could be fun. I understand that waiting is also kind of annoying, so I've collected some tips on getting ready fast while not skimping on all the fun parts.

Firstly. You know that thing you do with your friends before you go out where you try shit on and then you look at it and go “Hmm. I don't know. Do you like this? What do you think? Do you like this with that? What about this one? Blah blah”? Yah. That stuff is super fun, but the rave is more fun. You can TOTALLY do that stuff at home the week before and will save you LOADS of time at the rave. Don't underestimate how much time that wastes, for real... and its time-consuming enough without adding hallucinogens, for example. DO THAT SHIT AT HOME FIRST. Have your peeps over with a giant bottle of wine and go through your outfits. Put outfits and accessories together – some for hot weather, some for cold. 

NOTE: You don't have to plan WHEN you are wearing everything during the weekend... just which things you are wearing together. I generally like to leave it open and just go with my mood when the time comes, in case I feel like wearing Outfit B instead of Outfit A.

Next step: put everything for one outfit, INCLUDING underwear, socks, sweater etc etc .. like, EVERYTHING for that look, into a GIANT CLEAR ZIPLOC. You can buy pillow sized ones at Canadian Tire, no joke, they have new big sizes. Then put the matching accessories into tiny bags or tubberwares and pop 'em in the bag too. I'm so serious. This might seem extreme, but trust, this saves you SO SO much time for 2 reasons: 1) rifling around in a tent is THE WORST, especially if its dark. UM, no. One of the first times I did acid at a rave I'm pretty sure I looked for my shit in my tent for half the party, just looking in bag after bag, and forgetting what was in the first bag, and then starting over. FUCK THAT SHIT. With clear bags you can see immediately what is in which bag without having to look in each one 40 billion times. 2) Having everything you need all together in one place is a HUGE TIME SAVER because you won't have to hunt for each little piece separately. Just decide on the outfit, pour yourself a bevvy, take the bag out, and enjoy putting everything on. Put on your accessories, little eyeliner, etc etc, annnnnd... YOU'RE DONE. See? You look fabulous.

This isn't to say you need to be super anal and stick to the plan. You can always switch things up or just play dressup and explore / discover new combos if that's what you feel like doing. But honestly its really overwhelming when you're at the rave and there's so much to do and see... so do yourself and the people you are with a solid and have a plan so you can RAVE MORE and STRESS LESS.

Two last little things: make-up and hair for the night I recommend doing in that last little bit of daylight, while you're digesting your dinner. Way easy. Oh also don't try to put on fake eyelashes if you're high without supervision because you will spend wayyy too much time on it, and be very careful to have clean fingers and use clean surfaces, otherwise you're basically gluing dirt and bacteria to your eye. DON'T SHARE EYELINER or MASCARA AT THE RAVE either. Unless you want a giant eye infection like my awesome and cute buddy Rebecca got last year. :) Wasn't fun for her, even though it was kind of cute and made her face look squishy. 

12) ENJOY THE FOLLOWING AMENITIES: distinct LACK of MOSQUITOES (!!!!! although I'm from Wpg and 500 is still a lack, so still bring some Muskol just in case), water (bring reusable bottles!), organic / vegan food vendors, coffee vendors, the lovely rivah, medical tent, etc. etc. 

Particularly for Bass Coast, there likely will only be one cash machine, so try to BRING ENOUGH CASH for party favours / meals / vending items and stash it somewhere NOT obvious / lock it in your vehicle. There are a couple cash machines at Shambs but unfortunately the line-ups can be RIDICULOUS and the fees... eff. Just bring some damn money. More than you think. (Sorry bout it).

OH YEAH - Bring an awesome thing to BUST out to your crew when they least expect it, or something rad for your camp to enjoy. I know one couple that always bring their dope hooka, and someone else who was thinking of freezing hankerchiefs into cubes to pass out on a hot afternoon. I’ve seen someone melt dark chocolate onto strawberries, someone else bust out fresh mint and lime for mojitos!!! Even a secret bottle of whiskey tucked away for those impromptu shots that just hit the spot… ohhhh yeahhhh. The Glenlivet, I'm telling you. I'll be your friend. 

Captain Hooker's whiskey-lovin' mug on the Mainstage of Bass Coast 2014. Photo: AllieKat Photography
13) A VERY simple list of the basic DO'S AND DON'T OF BEING FUCKED UP.

I want to thank Stacy Forrester, the fucking nurse of radness, for confirming and contributing to all of this. Most of this is all common sense shit, but you know, people lose their heads a bit at festivals & forget, and I find sometimes it's good to just say this shit to yourself again. So if I'm saying something that seems obvious, don't be offended, ok? Cuz it wasn't all necessarily obvious to me when I started out, as you will read ;) Ok. Here goes:

DO avoid unpleasantness by PLANNING AHEAD and BRINGING ENOUGH. By “unpleasantness” I mean ingesting sketchy or toxic additives, having a bad trip, running out (noooooooo!!!) or even worse, that grumpy “are you high? I'm not high. Are you high?” conversation. By “enough”, I again mean more than you think you need. 

Rule #8 applies here... by far the safest and best way to party is to show up with enough shit for the WHOLE TIME that you know is clean and legit. Remember: you don't have to do it all, but having extra is always better than running out. 
If you are new to this whole scene, find a spirit guide or friend you trust to hook you up with someone they trust, and get favours from them BEFORE you come (and hide that shit, obviously, well, because its illegal). But I'm telling you that will save you so, so SO much hassle. Also, small tip, try, if you can, not to call your source the day before the rave as they mayyyyy be a little busy. :) Just sayin.

- If you do run out and end up acquiring there,  
DO avoid anything in a pressed pill, even if they have cute little stamps (yayyy unicorns!! NOPE) or anything sold as "E”, for the love of sass. Wrong letter. Gelcaps or pressed pills could be E, but they could also be 2CB, 2TB, foxy, oxy, PCP or a billion other things that could fuck with your head. Ajax and caffeine = not fun times. Shit happens, I've seen it. Know your source, consult your guide, aka someone who knows what stuff should look, smell like or taste like. Fact: electronic music festival full of ravers who have run out of party favours is prime exploitation territory for the more shadowy peeps of our world, and shadows are out there. Protect yourself. Also protect the money in your little neon pocket. 

Also, but IF you do end up acquiring at Shambhala or another larger festival, DO use the drug-testing booth that won't point any Fingers of Judgement at you or confiscate anything. GO if you want to have something tested for its composition. These people really, really know their shit and its soooo worth it to know you're going to have a clean, danger-free high. Clean highs are happy highs. :) 

DON'T get so wasted your friends have to take care of you. As the adorable Calvin and Hobbes cartoon says, YOU take care of YOU for me, I'LL take care of ME for you. :) 

- If you're gonna get that wasted, 
DO make sure you're with friends who actually will take care of you.

DO double check what the substance is when offered. That might seem obvious, but I don't want to talk about how many times close friends have assumed what they were about to swallow or snort was something completely different than what it actually was. BAD RACCOON. Remember that MDMA, MDA, ketamine, cocaine, meth/speed & even heroin (it's out there) are ALL powders. Better to know than to end up accidentally doing a huge rail of ketamine thinking it was blow (a common mistake) or worse, ending up on super knarly PCP. It's happened. To me. Seriously. Not the funnest. ASK. 

- DO ask about ABSOLUTELY POSITIVELY ALL LIQUIDS THAT ARE OFFERED TO YOU. Cocktails, ciders, even something that appears to be water. ASK. People COMMONLY put MDMA or liquid acid in their drinks. Never hurts to just quickly ask “what in it?” or say, "this is just water yeah?" or whatever. Seriously, that one little sentence can save your ass and you won't offend anyone. I remember one year when a Sweet Soul dancer who will go unnamed (*cough rhymes with MARA) ended up getting unknowingly dosed on 2CB that was in a big 4 L jug of what looked like water being passed around. When I found her she announced that she was in a vortex. 100% completely true story. It wasn't ideal. ASK. (she was completely ok in the end but she did give me a bit of a scare, not goin' lie). 

DON'T mix booze & GHB. Seriously. (Seriously). Seriously tho, don't do it, not worth it, I've personally witnessed people OD in front of me on GHB who "mix them all the time". Don't risk put yourself or your friends through that, please just .. don't. 

DO label and if possible, dye your GHB and don't leave it lying around for eff's sake. We all have that friend who accidentally had a big chug and missed the whole party. Just take 2 seconds to scrawl "g" on your bottle so that person doesn't hate you. Thanks. 

-DO pre-measure your doses of GHB. (Notice that GHB is on here a lot? Yah that's cuz by far the most of all emergencies at festivals involve GHB. Again, be careful as fuck with that shit.) Just a hypothesis here, but studies suggest that even a licensed lab scientist can't measure accurately at 3am whilst hunched on the uneven ground of the forest and using a glow stick as light source while wearing a Gumby suit. Pre-measure if you can, and know the concentration. FYI if you are unequipped, you can almost always get dye AND measuring shit for GHB from the Sanctuary area (every decent outdoor festival will have one of those)...NO QUESTIONS ASKED. Go get kitted up proper and prevent un-fun, low-sass situations. It's sooo worth it. 

Here's a vid of me using liquid "water enhancer" from the grocery store to dye / flavour my special liquid. It cost me all of $3 and as you can see LITERALLY took 10 seconds. 

DO be very careful if you choose to mix booze & ketamine (they both slow your heart rate down & booze will seriously increase the effect of ketamine). 

If ketamine is your substance of choice, DO know that it can cause major stomach acid, and holding acidic pee in your bladder is no bueno. “K-bladder” is a thing, one that does not just happen to chronic users or veteran partiers, it happens in young new peeps too. So if you're riding the K-train, avoid super acidic drinks like cranberry juice. Try to injest alkaline foods like bananas and almond milk smoothies and shit. And again, ALWAYS remember to P on K!! P on K. P on K. 

- If you are on any sort of prescription for something, DO your research for interactions with recreational shniz. And while you don't have to tell your entire crew that you're on meds, DO tell AT LEAST one person you trust about it in case of emergency. Remember those medic bracelets people used to have? Yah. Cuz that's why.

DO find the first aid / Sanctuary tent if you need to. NO SHAME IN THAT. Ever. The Sanctuary staff is also super good at being discreet. So don't think you're going to be spoken about or judged.... Fingers of Judgement are NOT allowed in there. We've all gotten way too fucked up at some point or another. They are volunteering to help because they love you. It's ok. 

- Here's an IMPORTANT one that doesn't get said enough these days around hooking up: If the person's SUPER fucked up & you can tell that they're maybe not thinking clearly, DO hold off until they are more lucid and in a better position to get into positions. Ya know?? It's respect. Really hoping to get to a place where all sex at these festivals - and on planet earth in general - is completely consensual. Blurry lines = not kablammo. 

DO drink water, aka Raveforce, ALL DAY LONG, no matter what you're doing. ALL FUCKING DAY LONG. 

DO drink a coconut water, Emergen-C or gatorade every day to replace electrolytes and give your immune system a boost. 

DON'T forget to eat. Doesn't have to be a lot but it NEEDS TO BE SOMETHING, otherwise you WILL fade, no matter what. I normally can't eat a lot when I'm partying but I do try to have one good, hot meal a day and then snack the rest of the time. RULE IS HALF THE AMOUNT of food yo think you need, twice the amount of booze and smokes. Protein, carbs, good fat & some green shit. BAM. Done. Some suggestions: Tuna snacks on crackers, a hearty bagel w cream cheese or avocado, pre-cut veggies & bean dip (I do this bean-fries thing... throw a pack of ready-to-eat yellow beans in the cooler til they get super crunchy and then eat them like fries), or a wrap from the food vendor area... all simple. One of my friends swears by tofu weiners, just cold, when she's really dying for protein and couldn't be bothered to fix something up. For beach snacking, bring berries or bust out a melon or pineapple to cut up for a quick hydrating snack to share. Rice chips or nuts are rad beach snacks as well. ALSO: Chia seeds are my secret rave fuel. Seriously, those little fuckers are made of unicorn meat. (Fuck I'm such a hippie now). 

- If you DO feel too high, or dizzy, or super sketchy the next day, or whatever, do my tried and true tested routine: find your camp, change into comfy clothes, and brush your teeth. IT WORKS. For real. 

With Foxy Moron's cheeky twist on Mat The Alien's motto & fan signs, 2010 

DO PREPARE FOR POST-PARTY DEPRESSION. This is actually a very real thing. Pick up some 5HTP at the Vitaman / Health food store and eat that shit the morning after MDMA... it has ingredients will help your brain come back to life a little .... but still, be prepared. This is based on an ACTUAL letter I sent to the now-Yolk's owner and once rave-king Steve Ronin and to myself upon our return to the city after Shambs 2009 .... because even though I do this year after year, I STILL sometimes forget why I'm just so GRUMPY and MOODY the next week. Do yourself a favour... print out this letter, fill in the date and blank with your name, and send it to yourself in the mail the day before you leave for your festival or stick it to your fridge with the heading ** FOR NEXT WEEK ***

Date: __________ 

Dear __(YOUR NAME)___________________, 

Just a friendly reminder from your fabulous, sexy, clever & clearly VERY modest friend Crystal Precious that any awful, sickening feelings of horrible depression you may currently be experiencing are simply the after-effects of doing hugely unreasonable amounts of drugs this weekend. That's right, it's not you... it's Suicide Wednesday. 
Ah yes, those feelings of hopelessness and physical weakness typical of extreme serotonin shortage can often seem all too real... so please, remember that beneath the cold sweats, shakes & twitches that a fabulous, kind, considerate and un-nauseous person waits to emerge with renewed perspective & strength. Make sure to resist any urges to hate yourself for the terrible abuse to which you have subjected your body. It was like, totally worth it. And no matter what, have some mini-donuts or otherwise sweet/greasy food-item on hand at ALL TIMES. 
Should this reminder be premature or even (skeptical brow furrow) UNNEEDED, kindly disregard or forward for future use. Or perhaps just send back to me. I’ll probably need it. 


On that tip, DO avoid making any serious decisions or fighting with your spouse / boss / roommate upon return. If anyone says “We need to talk”, just straight-up fucking run. Once you are far, FAR away, re-schedule the talk for another week when your brain has regenerated some happy juice.  And for whatever reason if your stomach or bladder is acting up after the festival, go to the EFFIN doctor and for the love of EFF. If they seem unconcerned, don't be afraid to tell them what drugs you were doing and how much. Judging you is totally counter productive for them, like what if you just stopped going to doctors? They don't want that, assuming they got into the medical profession to you know, like, help people and shit. You're important and special. So go and tell the truth so you can make sure you're ok. FOR ME. :) 

Rock Pit / Ampitheatre performance with Sweet Soul Burlesque in 2011

Ok! YOUNG RAVE GRASSHOPPAS.... I think that just about covers what I have to contribute. Long live the internet for being such an effective way to share knowledge to other human beings !! Woohoo!  Please feel free to send this to anyone and everyone and ask them to do the same. And for eff’s sake, come watch me perform at Bass Coast 2015 with the Sweet Soul Burlesque 10:30 PM on the Mainstage on SUNDAY NIGHT!!!  W/ special guests Tawni Krystal, Rori Satya & Jay Devery. S'gonna be TENTACULAR.

You can subscribe to my fabulous OCCASIONAL email updates here:

OH I almost forgot: with the exception of Keefer Thursdays, I'm taking a bit of a small break from performing as much... I just need to chill for a sec, regroup and focus on recording.  I've also decided to hire out my social media skillz to companies that want more online visibility. If you know an integral business that you think could benefit from my 10+ years of online promoting experience, recommend me? I'm good at it. Tell them to inquire at preciousmediaworks AT gmail DOT com. (I'm spelling the punctuation so robots don't scan me cuz IT'S THE FUTURRRRRE!!) 

Lashes n' lix n' glowy bright stix..and all my love, for real, 
Xxo CP