I wake up this morning to write a piece on finding love at music festivals and I sit down at my computer still fuming from the news that The Weeknd brought out Kanye during his set at Day 2 Weekend 2 of Coachella. My left eye is literally twitching and I can’t hear out of my right ear (I AM BLAMING YOU FOR MY WOES, GOLDENVOICE) and I set out on the very important task of creating a title for my piece. “Connection” and “Coachella” come to mind because of alliteration and I am reminded about one of the very best corners of the Internet, Craigslist Missed Connections, so I immediately consult The Oracle1 with some shrewdly selected booleans and lo! I unearth what may very well be the one Missed Connections forum to rule them all (and created not five days ago by some compassionate, entrepreneurial spirit hoping to facilitate more neon, dusty, bass-thumping connections in the Indio desert). Behold: Coachella Missed Connections.
I love that this site exists, and the fact that the Internet basically just Steve Jobs-ed me and predicted what I wanted before I even knew I wanted it is a Gordian Knot better untangled on another day. Today though, I want to stagedive right into the clusterfuck that sites like Coachella Missed Connections attempt to untangle: how do you find love—be it romantic, agape, group, groupie, thug, unrequited, or fleeting—in the middle of the throbbing, vibrant amoeba of humanity at a music festival? Is it even possible? Having only ever been to Coachella, I’m not exactly the expert on all things (or really any one thing) festival-related. However, I am a Professional Single Person, so I’m going to use that expertise to suss out some strategies on how one might find love at a music festival.
Put Away Your Phone
This means physically storing your phone away from your [insert illicit substance side effect adjective here] eyes in one of the various pockets you invariably have available on your person and leaving it there unless, say, Hillary announces her run for president or you have to provide proof of life to your parents. Look up. Use that elegant, sinewy neck of yours to periscope around and drink in your surroundings. There are people everywhere and they are at their happiest and you know what that means? They are also at their most beautiful. Avail yourself of the circumstances: these are the other fish in the sea your friends talk about, this is life IRL, no apps or About Mes or swipes necessary.
As a steadfast introvert and very independent single lady, I spent a lot of time and almost 30 miles of walking between my various pods of people being by myself at Coachella and I could not recommend it more. I would skywrite it over Indio if I could, like a stratospheric Google Alert for the masses. Victor has already written about the rewards of doing shit by yourself, but not enough can be said about being alone in such a thoroughly heartbeat-saturated place as a music festival. You [fill in the blank] more: hear, notice, witness, touch, wander, experience, etc. In turn, you [fill in the blank] less: wait in line, coordinate across different sets and tents and groups, yell, deliberate, waffle, etc. Going stag at a music festival affords you a tremendous economy of movement and existence, not to mention it accurately reflects your romantic status.
Hold Someone’s Hand
Day 2 at Duke Dumont’s set in the Sahara tent trying to get from one of my friends to the other was absolutely one of Dante’s innermost circles of hell. I am very determined and aerodynamic but no amount of skill or wizardry was going to get my 5’4” frame through that crush of people. It was in the middle of this swarm that a jovial fellow churned past me in the crowd holding hands with his kin and remarked, “Girl. You can’t go anywhere without a handchain! Grab on.” So I did. And this guy and his friends guided2 me out of the darkness and into the light. I prayer hands emoji’ed them at the edge of the throng and he nodded and that was it. This is all just to say: reach out and hold someone’s hand—if you have to go somewhere or even if you’re standing stock still bopping to music under a tent. They’ll probably sweatily hold yours right back.
Like Attracts Like, So Situate Yourself Accordingly
All I mean by this is that music festivals attract all kinds of people going to see all kinds of music so just let the music be your guide, man. Frequent tents/stages that are playing music aligned with your tastes and you will meet people who are aligned with your tastes. Maybe this is obvious—and of course there is more than something to be said for branching out into uncharted territory—but this strategy is more about probability and sample sizes than anything. I took statistics once. Seemed legit.
Seriously. Tune in to your inner (or actual) Jewish mom and nourish your weathered, sun-and-substance-poisoned body. Odds are, the last time you ate was the day before when you woke up from a drunken stupor and remembered that such a thing exists (and, in fact, is necessary so you can exist) so preempt that food folly and #treatyoself to some delicious noms. Don’t kvetch about the price. Scoop some grub, sit down at a table with some strangers or stand at a charging station, and start a damn conversation. See what happens. (Hint.)
I was commiserating with one of my best friends and fellow singletons as I sauntered through the grass on Day 2 and I asked him if he’d ever been to Coachella with a significant other. He hadn’t, he said, but wished he had because it looks “so goddamn fun.” I know what he means, because of course it would be fun to share such a grueling, magical, glowing experience with someone else. Maybe these strategies help and you meet someone. Maybe you lose track of them and then bemoan your lost connection on the Internet. Or maybe nothing happens at all. At the end of the (very long) day though, you’re still at a damn music festival. Go eat a mojito popsicle and sway to some tunes.