For the past 5 days I attended a rock festival, it’s called Rockstadt. So you can make a clear image, there were bands with names like InFlames, PowerWolf, Nervochos, Enslaved etc. (until last week I had no idea either who these guys are). If you don’t know, I am more of a jazz person so it was indeed something new for me.
How did I get there? My niece (17) asked me to go with her so her mother, my oldest sister would let her go. I had no idea where I was going, to be honest, but if Bianca asked, I knew it was important for her so I said yes. Several months after her request, there I was, driving to the hearth of Transilvania with my cousin and her friend to attend an “extreme music festival” (that was the way it was presented by the organisers, it was too damn accurate).
It was truly an intense and a perspective-altering experience. Now, I want to share with you some thoughts that passed in my mind along the way.
Expose yourself to unfamiliar things. As I said, I am more of a jazz person. All the music festivals I ever attended were in Bucharest, my hometown. So everything there was new for me. I was always convinced that humans are adaptable beings by default, some do it faster than others, we tend to change according to the environment we are put in. It is a survival mechanism.
In order to enhance this natural ability I think that you should leave all your past knowledge behind, so you are open to the new one you receive for your new circumstances. Compared to others, and for the surprise of my friends, I am not a judging person, I take things as they are without thinking, things are not good or bad, for me things just are. I don’t judge people but I do pay attention to their actions and see them accordingly.
The key to my whole experience was the mindset I went there with. I had no previous deep knowledge about the rock culture and I chose to ignore all the biases people pushed upon me like, there are dangerous people, those men are filthy and violent etc.
As usual, I chose to disregard bad vibes and make up my own mind. Also, before getting there I told myself that is going to be fun and I am going to enjoy it because I have the chance to see something new.
The idea is that the shades of our glasses dictate the way we see things. When do you think about something, how much is your own judgement and how much do ponder the beliefs of others?
In college, I had a course about the behaviour of large groups of people. Until now I never had the chance to see all I’ve learned in one place.
They were like a pack of wolfs, and the feeling of unity was very strong, on the premise of the festival and outside. If someone lost something there, everybody would start searching for it. When I was cold, someone offered me their jacket even if was death freezing. Don’t ask how, but we end up on a field on our way to the festival, the main road was closed, and someone helped us find our way because they saw our pink bracelets (yes, pink for a rock festival, it’s hilarious).
There is also an “uniform”, everybody was dressed in black or army clothes, you didn’t have to but everybody did. Furthermore based on specific items you could be associated with a subgroup (my niece would tell me I am a flower, I took it as a compliment). The band on your t-shirt, the type of rings you are wearing, your boots all said something about the things you identify with. I observed that a group of young adults would adopt the same way of dressing, how many accessories they were wearing, what type of pants etc.
The rhythm of the music, very primal, would only activate the tribe instinct. They would get into a sort of dancing called pit that remembered me of the Dothraki, it seemed soo instinctive. It was absolutely fascinating to witness that, and how hundreds of people would start moving their heads and feet at the same time. It was scaring how much force people there are capable of generating, at times it felt overwhelming.
While attending the concerts, I adopted my role as a responsible aunt and let my niece have fun with her friends while I was making new acquaintances. There was no point in spoiling her fun, so I let her go wild, as long as we would meet me after every show and as long she wouldn’t have a bleeding or life-threatening wound. So I started talking with everybody, you never know what interesting thing you can learn. How did I do that? I smiled, let all those useless fears everybody has when it comes to human interactions and asked questions about stuff, and then I listen, which I think is one of the most valuable things I ever learned. Obviously, I’ve got into some deep existential conversations, and I love it, people do open up if they found someone that would listen without judging. Those are the discussion I crave the most.
Furthermore, I found up the answer for why people would gather for 5 days and listen to brutal songs that involve recurrent themes such as murder, pain, and blood. It was relaxing. Yes, relaxing. University teachers, IT engineers, opera singers, found it relaxing. As usual, I tried to figure out an explanation and what I concluded is that they felt too much social pressure in their daily lives. You could do anything there, dress anyhow (I saw someone in a unicorn costume, with glitter and all the good stuff), behave as you wish as long as you don’t bother anyone (dance, sing, drink, crowd surfing, sleep on the ground etc). In addition, what I observed is that when my niece would exit a pit she would be very relaxed, being able to get out all that energy is also a way to detach. There, it was alright to scream and jump, and for what I know, to do that here in Bucharest, you have to pay at least 20$. Also, some told me that they came here for the energy they get. They feel empowered. I guess is the result of the music-crowd mix.
I talked earlier about our ability to adapt. I was amazed by mine. In the first day, every time a band would start singing I would be, wtf is happening here, it seems surreal. The lyrics, the music, the lights, it was all new to me and people would assume that I didn’t like it because I was frowning, but in fact, I was trying to understand and assimilate what was happening there. Already in the 3rd day of the festival I was comfortable with all the unfamiliar music and I could even appreciate a singer’s hard work, it is not an easy thing to growl, no joking, for real. However, I am still not into metal. Also, my hearing adapted to all that noise, I can bearly hear my dog snoring now, which is a blessing.
If something wasn’t according to the plan, like being late, not finding a parking place, or having to drive on road without asphalt my niece would adopt a negative approach, like panicking or cursing. I talked to her and told her that is not ok, because having a bad mindset, would not help you get out of that situation and would only alert you state further.
But the thing that really bothered me was that this kind of reaction is learned, and I know it because I saw it too often while working with my kids at the debate club. I think it is the result of punishing children when they were little for making mistakes, they are afraid when things go wrong, and are scared of failure. The thing is that failure is essential for learning and developing. Not to mention that in life we fail more often than we succeed.
Another thing that annoys me is the mindset we let out children develop, my niece’s friend would say very often “Oh, no I have a problem”, and it was for small, unimportant things. This is a negative frame that on the long run does a lot of damage.
Small pleasures, those are the real ones that matter. The best parts of my trip were the little things, reading on the balcony of the villa, going for a run in the morning, drinking a coffee in Brasov (medieval city of Transilvania) or laying on the grass in the middle of the court of the Fagaras fortress. You don’t need money for that, or at least you don’t have to be ridiculously rich. You just need to learn to live the moment and unfortunately many of us do.
All in all, good things happen only if you are brave enough to look over the border of the city, into the unknown, it can be frightening but it is definitely worth it.