The City workers guide to festivals : FAQs

Latitude15The Escape Artist is back from a long weekend at the Latitude festival.

This was a lot of fun – even better than Glastonbury for my money – and there were some interesting takeaways that I want to share.

This blog is read by all sorts of people. Including many in financial services: bankers, hedge fund and private equity types and advisers.

The Escape Artist knows the mind of the City worker and is aware that many have some misconceptions about festivals. The Escape Artist has therefore compiled some answers to Frequently Asked Questions in order to dispel some myths.

How do I get there?

For the authentic festival experience, The Escape Artist travelled by coach surrounded by his fellow human beings. I can report that the other humans were friendly…and most of them looked clean.

If you work in the City, you may not know what a coach or bus is. To visualise this, imagine your SUV. A coach is about the same size, with similar fuel consumption, but it carries many more passengers. As a result, it costs much less per person than the running costs for your Porsche Cayenne or X5. You can then put the difference into the Escape Fund where it compounds. That’s how this FI thing works!

We can choose how much we pay for most things. But its not just about saving money. With festival coach travel you get fun and interaction added. You are paying less for more.

This is the opposite to how many City people travel….paying ridiculous amounts to sit socially isolated in a sterile and boring Business Class.

Which hotel do I stay at?

Ah…there are no actual hotels there. You stay in a tent.

I’ve heard of “tenting”…but what is that?

Tenting (or camping as it is sometimes known) is a bit having like a hotel room that can be moved from place to place. Tenting is a surprisingly cost effective form of accommodation. The reason it costs so little is that it consumes very few scarce resources so provides a highly efficient solution.

Again, you shouldn’t think of this as something inferior to the more expensive and drearier option of a hotel.  Think of it as accommodation with added soul. Granted, there’s no cable porn in a tent…but you can probably live without that for a couple of days.

A tent can be used anywhere but generally works best when put up in something called “nature”.

What is “nature”?

Sunset over Latitude

Nature is the stuff that is outside your office building. Unless you’re next to a McDonalds.

Surprisingly, it turns out that for many years our ancestors actually lived in nature.

Nature contains things like amazing sunsets, fresh air, forests and beautiful woodland creatures.

These are good things and not to be avoided nor uneccesarily covered in concrete.

Yes, but is tenting luxurious?

Wrong question. As MMM might put it, luxury is just another weakness and camping is a teeny-weeny baby step towards becoming less of a wuss.

Yes, the ground may not be quite as soft as your King sized Fluffmaster 2000TM and yes, sometimes in a tent it can be cooler than 20 degrees or warmer than 22 degrees centigrade…but that’s kind of the point. What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.

What about the whole hygiene thing?

I know what you’re thinking…you don’t want to turn into a soap dodger.

But let’s be rational. We are hardwired to be scared of bugs, beasties and bacteria. Women in particular have an inbuilt horror of germs and squalor…for very good evolutionary biological reasons. If you were raising children in the days before antibiotics and hospitals, damn right you want everything peachy clean.

These days there are lots of clean showers at festivals. The Escape Artist can report that he successfully used them. With hot water and soap and everything. And not once did I contract The Consumption, Bubonic Plague or Rabies.

You can even find clean, white porcelain loos rather than those plastic portaloos. I’m not saying every festival loo is spotless. But you may be visualising a toilet that would have shocked Bobby Sands in H Block. The fears in our imagination are usually worse than the reality.

Can I catch communism at a festival?

No. Communism is not a communicable disease. Communism is in fact a sub-optimal system for organising the allocation of scarce resources favoured by The Soviet Union and China prior to the 1990s. Unfortunately for the millions of working class people that died as a result.

Festival essentialsFestivals are excellent examples of capitalism at work. Like companies, festivals work best when they treat people as humans, are lightly regulated, flexible and run by good people who don’t get too greedy.

Yes, there are plenty of stalls selling…ahem…non-essential items such as healing crystals, whale song CDs and vegetarian sandals…but these are small entrepreneurs providing what people want.

The irony is that many bankers think festivals are full of communists. Yet it’s the bankers that work in monolithic bureaucracies supported by The State.  Most banks make decisions with the efficiency of a 1930s Soviet tractor factory.

Festival artists and vendors are actually entrepreneurial capitalists. In contrast, the average banker believes in corporatism, not capitalism.  If we had a bit more capitalism, then bank bondholders or shareholders would never be bailed out by taxpayers.

Do I need to change my name?

No, there is no need to change your name to Swampy, Sunshine Pixie Moonbeam or a Red Indian name like Bear That Shits in The Woods.

What if I’m forced to talk to new people?

There tend to be 2 personality types that do well in the City. Type 1 City people are hyper-rational introverts. These people can usually be found talking to spreadsheets which they find much easier to deal with than human beings.

If you are a T1 droid, you may become confused in a festival environment when attractive, friendly people come up and start speaking to you. If you find this distressing, you can simply stare at your shoes, look awkward and mutter. That usually gets rid of them. A better response however would be to smile and find out what is fun and interesting about them. Just a thought!

Type 2 City people tend to have strong social skills and appear confident and decisive. This helps mask their lack of competence. They may have received an expensive education and a sense of entitlement worthy of Paris Hilton. Some think these people are the cream of society: white, rich and thick. Sadly, due to lifestyle inflation and ridiculous spending, many of them aren’t even rich.

If you are a T2, you may be uncomfortable being approached by people that are not social clones of yourself. If so, simply start boasting loudly about your ski chalet / boat / bonus. That should usually repel any potential new friends you might encounter.

But I’m over 30….am I still allowed to enjoy myself?

Yes! Age is a classic example where people are held back by peer pressure and limiting beliefs.

Its true that you can’t go on a Club 18-30 holiday anymore…but they are no fun. They are consumerist shit packaged up as sugar.

The age range at Latitude was 1 – 75+. You get to choose whether you are young enough. You are allowed to do what you find fun as long as you are not hurting others. Anyone who tells you otherwise can fuck off.

Will I be able to check my smartphone compulsively?

Perhaps not. The festival may be in a field and you may not get great mobile phone reception.

This may mean that you are not able to read all the spam, self-justification and the weaselling that passes for office email correspondence.

And you might not be able to check your stock prices for a few days. But that’s a good thing given that the less you “screenwatch”, the lower your churn and the better your investment performance is likely to be.

What can I do instead?

You could talk to your friends.

What are friends?

Friends are people that help and support each other. They are not your competitors and they may be a bit different to the people that you work with, live near and go to dinner parties with.

If you work in the City and are struggling with this concept, you can think of friends as a bit like clients that you don’t over-charge. Or people you would spend time with even if they weren’t paying you at all!

Hopefully that has addressed some of the concerns and misconceptions that many people have about festivals.

The Escape Artist cultivates gratitude and, for me, the festival was a reminder of how much we have to be grateful for. The sun shone, the music played and the beer and the chat flowed.

Latitude 2015 was fantastic so thank you to my friends, the artists, organisers and the other festivalgoers  that made it such fun.

You can follow The Escape Artist on Twitter: click here


  1. BeatTheSystem · · Reply

    My family and I had fun for a few years 2007 to 2010 at GlastonBudget in Leicestershire (yes that’s right Budget).

    Its true they are cheesy tribute bands, but they do try very hard. when the event first started there were the vegan environmentalists selling goan coconut curry, bearded people selling locally brewed real ale and scrumpy (that’s cider to city people),, but now as it has become more successful the big boys have moved it, that is the wagon that sells pulled pork sandwiches and countless chip vans, beer tents selling weak fizzy piss crap lager by drafted in students.

    It seems commercial success is inversely proportional to authenticity, well the famer is trying to make a quick buck, but that’s capitalism I suppose, I think when they planned it they intended to be a lovey dovey lefty peace on earth type gathering but I guess they quickly realised it was more profitable than planting turnips or shagging sheep or whatever farming they did.

    But nevertheless, yes TEA, its all about mixing with people and having a bit of fun. I am from the northern wastelands of the midlands, and can speak ‘twat’ if I want to and blend in a bit, but city types should first practice speaking and acting ‘normal’ before attending festival events as if they are found out they could be set on fire wickerman style.

    1. Ha-Ha. Yes, thanks for the comment. And I’m grateful that no one set me on fire, wickerman style 😉

  2. ‘Can I catch communism at a festival?’ 🙂 Quality, quality post there TEA. I think there is a satirical novel in you awaiting to be written.

    1. Thank you. Flattery is actively encouraged on this site.

  3. @TEA, I would dearly like to travel all 50 USA states when I leave the rat race. See link below. It says 18-38, but I’ve checked and they can accommodate the “older” person.
    Reg, Jon

  4. Very good, TEA. Cheered up my morning!

    Glad to hear you enjoyed Latitude as well.

    1. Glad to hear it TDD…were you at Latitude as well?

  5. Brilliant post- made me chuckle on my way to the City. Happily these days my trips to London are discretionary and not to work in a corporate sweatshop. Greg

  6. Entertaining post. The age thing is something I really struggle with (I’m 39); I think you’re absolutely right, but it sometimes feels like there’s a fine perceptual line between “not limiting yourself based on your age” (OK) vs “trying to act young” (unacceptable). I’m fairly successful at not letting it bother me with non-social acitivities, but as soon as other people get involved it’s different. I’m somewhat type 1 anyway and this means that I shy away from things where I expect most people will be younger than I am, lest they perceive I’m there as a mid-life-crisis sort of deal. Just have to keep working on not giving a **** I guess.

    1. Steve

      I understand…I used to think the same way. But you are still young and you can change the way you see the world. Because I think its your perception that is the problem here. You are not alone: many guys aged 30 – 65 have somehow absorbed the unfortunate notion that they are not allowed to have any fun and are destined to be Walking Wallets.

      I’m older than you and this summer I cycled the length of France, which I used to think might be physically impossible for me…so don’t let your limiting beliefs stop you. Email me if you want to discuss further.


  7. Entertaining post as usual 🙂

    I’m with previous commenters, I’ve come to really hate the larger festivals, maybe this is due to getting older but I don’t ever remember enjoying waiting in long queues to get in, get a beer or take a leak. Then there is the fact that if more people have heard of something then it is more likely that dickheads will have heard of it and turn up.

    I think I’m coming across as a bit of a grumpy old git here so I’ll quit while I’m not ahead 🙂

    Maybe I just need to check out latitude, as I’ve not done that one before. (My best ever festival I think was shakedown in its first year, great crowd but you could get right to the front with minimal hassle. Brilliant!)

  8. Fatbritabroad · · Reply

    Great Post. Go to download festival every year although i will admit to a non fire friendly campervan hire although between 4 of you it’s not too bad and saves on booze and food.

    1. Fatbritabroad · · Reply

      Ps ‘tenting’ to me always meant something quite different… In fact you’d probably suffer it watching cable porn lol

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