We have been quiet for a little longer than we planned. Ever since LTFL returned from Arizona festivaling – the COVID-19 news has been a little overwhelming. I am sure many of you likely feel the same. Anyway, after two fantastic festival weekends in Arizona – we returned to a world scarred by fear and a virus. The word quarantine has slowly become a routine part of our daily vocabulary.
The first sign for a lot of us festival goers that something was seriously wrong came when we started to see festivals cancelled and rescheduled. It began with fests in April and May, expanding to events throughout the summer. It now looks like festival season 2020 will be mostly postponed to the Fall, with some festivals not coming back until Summer 2021. The news was beginning to come while I was at M3F. I was in the photo pit at stage two when we first got news that SXSW was going to be cancelled. The news sent shockwaves through the photo pits, with people nearby realizing that their plans, and more importantly their livelihoods, were at stake. We are talking about festival impacts here because that’s what we do . . . talk about festivals. But none of this is intended to ignore the far more important and vast consequences of the virus on people’s lives (or the thousands of deaths it has already caused).
I am so grateful to be in good health, but the toll this virus has had on each of us comes in many forms.
One of the main questions I have been asked over the last year and a half is what prompted my turn from a quiet attorney who hated crowds and loud noises to festival fiend… and eventual festival photography junkie. The answer to that is kind of complicated, but having to go without festivals has caused a lot of introspection on my part.
It all started with Firefly Music Festival and an amazing group of humans I met as a brand ambassador. They are so much more than just people I met – they have become family. A family that helped me build the foundation of my love for festivals. That was the beginning, but it took something a lot more personal to truly light the dynamite.
I want to keep this as light as I can while discussing something serious – but in 2018, we started facing some struggles when we decided we were ready to have a child. After many months, we went to the doctor. Since then we have experienced heartbreak and all sorts of awful invasive testing. There is absolutely nothing wrong, that they can find, and we have been assured it is just a matter of time. It is just so frustrating to deal with a situation that is so far outside of my control.
At some point in dealing with this . . . well I guess the best word is grief, going to festivals became a method of healing. There – I didn’t have to think about any of the bad or the stressful. I didn’t think about doctor appointments, all of the Facebook announcements of pregnancies, or the sometimes traumatic stuff I see in my day job as a prosecutor. All I had to do was enjoy the music, the sun, and the good vibes. For those long weekends – I was me again. I found normal positive self again amidst the joy of the festival. Then I started taking pictures and things just went to a whole different level for me. It was with that spirit the idea for this blog was born in our group; a way of documenting and formalizing the love for festivals that had grown from a painful spot in life or has meant a lot to us.
With time and lots of festivals I got back to being me again all the time – not just when I was away.
The panic and chaos we have all felt as a result of COVID-19 has had many consequences. Most importantly, it has cost lives. For those who are still healthy, it has cost birthday parties, wedding cancellations, missed time or events with extended family, and many many festivals and vacations. It has cost us the little moments in life that we took for granted before. Small things like being able to hug our friends and neighbors, share food, or even act normally in a grocery store aisle. For me it has cost not only festivals but the next steps we were going to take on our journey to have a child – with appointments cancelled for months and on hold indefinitely (something that I did not expect to have such an emotional response about). This isn’t about me though- everyone I know has been impacted in some way: big or small.
For many of you (even those who know me IRL) this will likely be the first time I have shared a little bit of this journey with you. Part of what makes something isolating is that we are so hesitant to discuss it out in the open with others. More importantly though, I hope this will trigger others to talk with us about the ways festivals have impacted them – how they have helped you get through a difficult time or changed your perspective on the world. Let’s start a conversation about how, during this difficult time we face as a country, we are going to find new ways to fill up our voids. And maybe it will help make the isolation we are feeling a little bit smaller.
I think subconsciously I have been avoiding all things festival related (including our M3F recap along with the beautiful photos we captured) because to give it my attention, means acknowledging that it may be the last festival I experience for a long time. That is something we need to break through – it is important not to wallow in that feeling, and not to allow the virus to defeat our festival spirit or our fighting spirit.
So, I am recommitting LTFL to continuing to post uplifting festival news throughout the COVID-19 crisis. We are not going to stop writing about fun stuff. We are going to publish recaps and our photos. We are going to spend time covering all of the amazing ways music is still being shared online – through Facebook groups, by famous musicians and everyday people. We are going to talk about apps that help you connect and anything else we can think of that’s even slightly festy. Because the thing is, music festivals are more than just a physical place – they are a mind set and a lifestyle – one that we can keep alive and well until the virus fades and we can re-emerge (better than ever) from our homes to dance with friends in festival fields.
I can’t wait for the next festival. To throw glow sticks and dance my heart out and hug friends. I can’t wait to be hot, complaining about how my back hurts from carrying my camera equipment. I can’t wait to do ridiculous fest-ercises when I get hot, tired and slap happy. Until then, we will be keeping the festival spirit alive one day at a time and we hope you will join us.
So please, take this opportunity and share with us: tell us what festivals mean to you, friends and people who came into your life through festivals, how you are coping with the current situation, or even share a song or festival memory – whatever it is that you are doing to keep #livingthefestlife.