Ashley Dean
Ashley Dean

Hello, young people. Let's talk about festival season.

With the Big One out in the California desert right on the horizon, it's time to think of the perils that come with giant outdoor gatherings of drunk and drugged people who are probably a little bit privileged. (If you worked for it, then good for you!)

Let me start by saying that I've been to Coachella, Bonnaroo, FYF Fest, Governor's Ball and South by Southwest a bunch of times. I am not above any of it. I am, however, creeping up in age, and the further past age 22, the more likely you are to have had about enough of this nonsense.

Not quite fed up (I have Gov Ball tickets again), but just a little prone to eye-rolling, I spend a lot of time thinking about this. Here are my tips for making festivals better.

•Are you Native American? No? Put down the headdress. Really. Right now.

•There is something called the Coachella Diet. I refuse to learn more about it because it will make me very sad. I bet you look fine as hell in your high-waisted cutoffs. There's nothing wrong with some healthy diet and exercise, but a crash diet to prepare for multi-day collection of crocheted crop tops is not so smart.

•If there's a show you really want to see, get there early. Sit through the sets before it, no matter what they are. Seeing Jay-Z isn't much fun when you're several thousand people away from the stage, on flat ground.

•True story: I once surprise-barfed in the middle of a beer garden at Coachella. (See? I'm really no better than anyone.) Beer is not food. Your stomach demands more.

•Drink water. Quadruple that if you're on a whole ton of molly. You don't want to collapse in the middle of a 1,000-person-deep crowd. Crowd surfing is no fun when you're unconscious and it's the only way to get you to help. Seriously, this shouldn't need to be said. Water!

•The campgrounds have great parties, just watch out for cops if you've got more than booze. They're around, and if you're not careful with your stash of hash, opium, acid and coke, you might get busted. (Also a true story. Not me.)

•That said, I've found that the volunteers who search your car will ignore a glass bottle of whiskey if you slip them $20. Not foolproof, but, you know, FYI.

•Dry shampoo is an excellent invention. Shower lines will be outrageous.

Festivals are a mixed bag. Sometimes, you bet an attractive Aussie on a game of Dizzy Bat, win and watch him steak through the campground. Sometimes your friend has to be taken to a hospital. Sometimes you get up front for you favorite band. Sometimes you end up as a live embarrassment on a late-night TV sketch show for talking about made-up bands like they're real.

Careful out there. And wear sunscreen or whatever.