Flash back to June 2012, the inception of Paradiso Festival at the Gorge Amphitheater. For many of us Northwest ravers it was also our first camping festival ever, myself included.
I had virtually no basis for comparison, nor did I know exactly what to expect. My lack of overall experience led me to making some rookie mistakes. Had I been aware of these beforehand, my first festival experience would have been quite different. I’ll provide you with the three biggest mistakes I made. The hope being that my experience can help you have the best festival ever.
My Journey to Paradiso: The Beginning
When Paradiso was first announced, it was a raver’s dream come true. The idea that there would be a massive camping festival in our neck of the woods generated plenty of excitement. The week following up to Paradiso, I had caught a very bad cold, which really put a damper on my plans. My nose was stuffed up, and I had a sore throat with a bad cough. Then, two days before the journey, mother nature had decided to bring me my monthly package early.
However, I still felt compelled to go, because my best friend had bought me my ticket. The night before, we hit the grocery store, and bought some food and supplies, figuring that we’d get whatever else we needed when we got there.
When we finally arrived to the Gorge, it was increasingly apparent that we had grossly under-prepared, and I found that in my weakened state, I failed to follow three simple rules to preparing for a festival.
Mistake 1: Hydration
The first problem I ran into was failing to maintain my hydration. Festival veterans know that hydration preparation really begins the week before a festival. Between being sick and on my period, I neglected that in spades. I should have increased my fluid intake days in advance of the festival, and instead I paid the price when I got to the Gorge.
This being the first Paradiso, there weren’t free water stations, and it was before you were able to bring in hydration packs, with little to no shade. To top it all off, I didn’t bring enough cash to eat, or buy water, which further exacerbated my being weak, tired, and dehydrated. I had almost passed out entirely when my friend brought me to the medical tent, where they gave me an IV of fluids.
Before you head out to the Gorge, remember HYDRATION IS IMPORTANT! Start hydrating the week before, and make sure that you bring plenty of fluids with you, including Pedialyte (or an equivalent brand) to help replenish all the nutrients you will lose through sweating and physical exercise.
Mistake 2: Eating
My second issue was that I did not consume enough calories. Chalk it up to being ill and cramping, but I had zero appetite. Basic biology teaches us that the hotter it is outside, the faster you burn through calories. Even with that being so, I pushed my body too much and barely ate all day.
So what did I learn from all that? Take care of your body! Dancing and walking burn a lot of calories. Make sure that you consume more food than you normally would, so you don’t get weak. Carb loading a day or two before heading to the Gorge will help. Those carbs will get stored in your body as fat, then slowly get released into your body throughout the day.
Mistake 3: Not preparing for the weather
My third mistake was not dressing appropriately for the weather at the Gorge. It gets hot out there, especially in June. When I arrived with my friend, it was clear skies, sunny, and warm. After a few hours of being at out camp, clouds rolled through, the temperature dropped, and it started raining. I had been wearing shorts and a crop top all day which was fine … until it started raining.
Being stuck cold and shivering was icing on my ill-prepared crappy cake. Yet I couldn’t really do much about it, because I didn’t think to bring a coat. I figured on it being warm all weekend. It was so hot during the day, and so cold at night that I wish I had prepared with better clothing (or at least brought a blanket).
Weather at the Gorge can change extremely quickly, given the area’s desert climate. Bring clothing options that will allow you to stay cool during the day, and warm when the sun goes down. Also prepare for rain, sun, or clouds. You never know which you will receive once you’re at the Gorge.
Paradiso 2012 was a complete disaster for me, wrapped in a blur of illness, menstruation, and inclement weather, and because of that I could barely enjoy my experience. The best advice I can give is to over-prepare for everything; you never know what may happen. Take care of your bodies, stay hydrated, eat enough food, and bring an ample amount of supplies, and your festival experience will be 100% better for it.