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Pros & Cons about Volunteering at Festivals

Are you thinking about volunteering at your favorite bass music festival this summer? It can be a truely awesome and rewarding experience. However, when you work at a place you love to party at there are going to be some things you will need to remember.

Here are some pros and cons to help you decide if volunteering is really for you:

PRO: Make New Friends

It’s impossible to not make new friends when everyone around you is feeling good, sharing a common goal, and loves the festival just as much as you do. It can be really inspiring to see just how people pour their hearts and soul into the festival to make it happen. Bonus: If you are there pre-show, you really get a chance to connect with people before the craziness of the party even happens.

CON: People not pulling their weight

Yup, there is going to be a bad apple or two in every bunch. Some just sign up to volunteer to game the system and get into the festival for free. Some just party too hard the night before their shift and miss it. Actions like this can bring the morale down. Festivals like Shambhala and Symbiosis have began implementing a volunteer deposit for the price of a ticket. After you have successfully completed your shifts, you get the deposit back. If you don’t show up, well you just bought yourself a ticket.

PRO: See Behind the Scenes

Ever wanted to see a stage get built from scratch and then enjoy it in it’s final glory? What about experiencing a festival grow from an empty field to a packed tent city? How about watching a promoter or stage director go from excited to stressed to pure bliss when it all comes together? You will get to learn what it really takes (and just how many people are racing around behind the magic curtain) to make a festival become a perfect bass playground. BONUS: If you are there for pre-show, you also get your choice camping spot under a nice shady tree.

CON: Not all jobs are ideal.

There is a ton of jobs that need to get done before, after, and during a festival. Like most things in life, if the right job isn’t paired up with right person the results aren’t always ideal. Even if you are lucky enough to get your desired job, you still might end up having to do something you don’t necessarily want to do, like picking up garbage. But, if you’re going to volunteer, you need to do it with the right attitude. If you choose to make your tasks fun then they will be fun even if it’s something you don’t want to do.

PRO: Meet the talent

Do you have a favorite DJ that you would trade your last cold beer to meet? Chances of meeting them can be pretty high depending what job you end up with. If you are lucky enough to have access to VIP camping or back stage passes your odds are even better. Also, don’t forget about getting to meet the artists who create the visual spectacles we enjoy, or the promoters who put this all together.

CON: The food can be hit or miss

The free food provided to volunteers can sometimes be a sore spot. Some festivals have their own staff kitchen and serve their volunteers food at certain times. These times could not fit with your personal schedule and this food can be hit or miss. One day it could be small portions, or cold, or not the best quality, but then the next day it could be amazing. If your a vegetarian or vegan your good food options can dwindle even more. Other festivals just give vouchers to the food vendors. Sometimes, the voucher might not be in a high enough dollar amount to pay for the food you want. So, you have to fork over some of your own cash.

PRO: Get some swag

Most festivals will give their staff and volunteers a Festival T-Shirt or hoodie. Who doesn’t like a stylish free shirt from a festival you love? Plus, you can then show off all your hard work back home when you wear it.

CON: Work during the festival

Coming up early for pre-show and working all day in the elements for days can really take it’s toll. You will probably be a little rough around the edges by the time the party starts. If you have to work a shift or two during the festival, you might not of have gotten enough sleep and then feel too tired for the rest of weekend. Or worst of all, you could miss your favorite act because of when you’re scheduled to work. Even working after show can also be a bit depressing too depending how bad the site got trashed from the attendees. PICK UP AFTER YOURSELVES PEOPLE! GEEZ!!!

PRO: Get some good Karma and bask in that glow

My most favorite reason to volunteer, is that moment when it all comes together. You’re dancing in the middle of that packed dance floor, and knowing you are part of that reason that everyone around you is having the time of their lives. How can you not feel amazing and have the best weekend ever?

Hope this list has helped your decision if volunteering is right for you. As you can see, it can be a better way to experience a festival as long as your willing to make a couple sacrifices. But from experience, the rewards can be well worth it!

Quick tips if you do volunteer:

  • Pace yourself and make sure to get enough sleep.
  • Wear sunscreen and bring proper clothing for any elements
  • Safety First! Wear the right protection and use the right tools for the job
  • Bring snacks and a bit of extra food just in case
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Pre or After Show? Need a ride? Plan it well ahead.
  • Don’t be that guy even when you’re off shift!  (especially if your are wearing volunteer swag.) Remember, you are representing the festival. Be a role model.
  • Don’t be a douche-bag, smile and have fun!
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She is one of the four key AYNiB officials and your personal Minister of Propaganda "Music is a way to dream together and go to another dimension"

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