Your Okeechobee 2016 Survival Guide
If you’re anything like me, your idea of the perfect weekend included friends, sunshine, live music and clean underwear.
To my fellow Okeechobee 2016 ticket holders, that perfect weekend is fast approaching and it’s up to you to make sure that last item is fulfilled.
The first ever Okeechobee Music & Arts Festival, held from March 3 – 6, is shaping up to be a weekend of blissed out concerts, early morning yoga, late night art performances, sandy toes and food so delicious that you’ll wish you weren’t wearing such a tiny crop top.
Whether it’s your first time camping out for a music festival or you’re a festival veteran, properly preparing for the weekend will guarantee you the festival experience of a lifetime.
So, ditch the oversized flower crown and use this survival guide to make Okeechobee much, much better than okay-chobee.
Don’t make your body hate you.
Okeechobee will be four days of walking/frolicking around, nonstop dancing and little to no real sleep. Although packing plenty of booze is important, having the proper food and hydration on hand is crucial.
Stock up on non perishables that are actually nutritious (think protein packed snacks), like Clif Bars, turkey jerky, dried fruit and nuts. Fruits like apples and bananas will usually last the weekend if they aren’t baking in the sun as well. A loaf of bread and a jar of peanut butter is an inexpensive way to stay alive as well.
While it’s glamorous to think you’ll be dining like a king at all the food vendors, festival food is often expensive and heavy. (Yes, it is hard to dance after a massive plate of fried rice.) Plus, there are typically really long lines. It sucks to miss out on a killer show because you’re stuck waiting in line for a watery smoothie.
If you’re a camping aficionado, a portable grill is perfect for grilling up hotdogs or making eggs in the morning, but I don’t recommend going this route until you know how to properly use one and will actually take the time to cook.
If you want to keep your food cold all weekend long, find a dry ice warehouse nearby and get a hunk of it for the bottom of your cooler. It will keep everything cold (and some things even frozen) for three or four days. If you do this, you can bring a lot more perishable foods and will have cold water, Gatorade and mixers all weekend.
If you can’t do that, at the very least freeze a case of water and throw it into a cooler to use as ice.
In terms of other, uh, nourishment, be careful and use moderation. In the dizzying heat and stimulation overload of the festival, it’s easy to take the drugs, alcohol and caffeine aspect too far. Have fun, but also be a conscious, responsible consumer and friend. (There’s really nothing worse than missing out on your favorite show because you are too crossed or because you have to be escorted to the medical tent.)
Also, know what you’re taking and how much. If Okeechobee is like any other festival, there will be people there selling and bartering all kinds of substances. You will not be a happy camper if you try to buy “molly” and end up freaking out on meth. (And your friends will not be happy having to take care of you.)
Contrary to Spongebob’s age-old “Water is for quitters” advice, never stop drinking water. Dehydration lurks everywhere, so hydrate as much as you can.
Listen to your body and take a rest if you need it. This is your vacation too, so don’t feel pressured if your friends are energizer bunnies and you want to just lounge in a hammock for a little while.
It is not a sprint. I repeat: it is not a sprint.
Be wary of the sunshine.
The scorching Florida sun is guaranteed to be your alarm clock in the mornings. If you don’t wake up in a complete sweat, then it isn’t a true music festival.
Buy a decent tent and know how to assemble said tent. Also, buy a battery-operated fan for a comfortable night’s sleep in your tent. If you’re camping by your car it will be tempting to pop in and blast the A/C, but try your best to avoid this. Nothing is worse than realizing you don’t have enough gas when you try to leave at the end of the weekend. (Plus, idling your car to dry your sweat is a dick move to the environment.)
You’ll want to spend a bit of the morning lounging by your camp, so create a shady place to hang out (and drink Crystal Light and vodkas) by setting up one of those canopy tents. You can drape a sheet or a tarp on whatever side the sun is to create a refuge from the rays.
I shouldn’t even have to mention this one, but lather up your whole body in sunscreen before you leave camp in the morning. No matter how potent your melanin might be, it’s miserable to get burned to a crisp, or even worse, get sun poisoning, after only two days of the festival.
Pack a day bag.
Depending on how early you get to the camp grounds and how they are directing traffic, you could end up camping decently far away from the actual festival. Make your life easier by packing a small day bag in the morning. This will prevent you from having to haul your ass back to your camp and miss a cool show.
I recommend pairing up with a friend and sharing a pack. You can carry the pack, they can carry a CamelBak full of water and you can switch periodically.
Fill it up with:
– A blanket or towel to lay down on
– Cash and identification (Only bring what you need, as opposed to bringing your whole wallet.)
– A small flashlight for the walk home
– Recreational items of your choice (No explanation needed here.)
– An empty water canteen/bottle so you can refill it throughout the day.
– Clean, dry underwear for the ladies. You’ll be an itchy, uncomfortable mess if you hit the beach and wear your wet bikini until 2 in the morning.
Don’t be a slave to your stuff or your looks.
Everyone wants a few Instagram-worthy snapshots from the weekend, but carrying your phone is a liability and a hindrance to having some liberated fun. You will have to constantly check to make sure it didn’t fall out (or get stolen out) of your pocket and/or trying to keep it dry if an impromptu rainstorm rolls through. The same is true for other gadgets. You will be pissed when your new GoPro magically disappears from your campsite.
Camping at a festival is a time to immerse yourself in nature and in incredible music. Use it as an opportunity to take a break from technology and just be.
If you’re worried about losing your friends sans cell phone, make up some guidelines and protocols for your group. Pick a go-to spot to meet if you end up getting separated. Spend a few minutes in the morning “planning” out which artists you will see and where, so the whole group has a loose idea of where they might be able to find each other.
Better yet, grab a pair of walkie-talkies from Walmart or Target and set a channel for you and your crew to communicate over. (Might we suggest creating inappropriate code names for added fun?) Make sure you test the power of the walkie-talkie before road-tripping over. You don’t want to be hype for the next show, call your friends and realize it’s been dead the entire time.
Ladies, don’t be a slave to your makeup. It’s going to be brutally hot and your makeup will melt off anyway. Get a tinted sunscreen (I like Smashbox BB cream, for example), some waterproof mascara and some tinted chapstick if you really need to gussy up, but leave the face goop at home.
Wear clothes that are comfortable and versatile. If your jorts are so skin tight that you can’t move comfortably, then ditch them. If your top requires sticky boobs or some other gerry-rigging, leave it behind. You might transition from yoga to the beach to a dance party, so make practical clothing choices.
People are there for the music, not for the fashion.
While we’re on the subject of hygiene, get over the fact that you will be filthy and smell less than desirable. Bring baby powder or dry shampoo for your greasy mane (I also recommend bringing a bandana to hide your wild hairline and soak up your sweat), bring baby wipes and face wipes for a quick refresh in place of a shower and bring the necessary cosmetics like toothbrush, mouthwash and deodorant.
Help create a community.
It’s an amazing phenomenon that thousands of people come together to share a weekend of musical bliss. My ten rules of thumb?
1. Contribute to the positivity of the festival by being open to new experiences, new friends and new music.
2. If you see someone who needs help, go help them. Music festivals are a place where “help thy neighbor” is in full effect.
3. Don’t push and shove people to get closer to the stage. Find out ahead of time when your favorite artist is performing and plan accordingly so you can get front-row vibes without being an asshole. Also, saying “excuse me” goes a long way.
4. Don’t let a Negative Nancy in your group bring you down or let group consensus guide your weekend. It’s not weird to go off on your own and see that eclectic DJ you’ve been wanting to check out.
5. Don’t plan out every moment of your day. Leave time for wandering and you’ll be surprised what kind of magic may unfold.
6. Talk to the person next to you in the crowd. Ask them if they’ve ever seen the artist perform, ask them what they are most excited for this weekend, tell them you like their tie-dyed bandana.
7. Smile at strangers.
8. Don’t be “that person” who attempts to crowd surf, holds up an obnoxious big head cutout of Donald Trump or tries to get on the shoulders of the closest guy at every show.
9. Take care of yourself and take care of your friends.
10. Live in the moment. Simply be present and tune in to the energy around you. Oh, and have a blast.