The Fyre Festival Fiasco is a Great Refresher in Self-Reliance

Fyre Festival: expectations vs. reality

Hasn’t festival culture become weird and wonderful lately? What was a predominantly antiestablishment pastime just a decade and a half ago, is now a fashionable and booming industry. There’s a festival for everyone. Want to hang out in the forest for a week listening to mind-numbing tech trance? We got you covered. Want a few days packed with experimental jazz? Right this way. Want to rub shoulders with celebrities and influencers on a private island in the Bahamas? Yeah… that didn’t quite work out.

In case you missed it, Fyre Festival was advertised as a three-day party on a “private island” in the Bahamas called Fyre Cay. Attendees were supposed to get the VIP experience of a lifetime: rivers of champagne, sunset barbecues, bikini-clad models, luxury cuisine and pristine accommodation. There was going to be some sort music as well. Organized by Ja Rule and tech entrepreneur Billy McFarland’s Fyre Media, Fyre festival cost between $2,000 and $12,000 per person and sold out within a couple of days back when it was announced in December. Instead of “living like movie stars, partying like rock stars, and f*cking like porn stars,” as Ja Rule promised, upon arriving to the Bahamas, partygoers were met with an unfinished campsite, feral dogs and no staff. Horror (for attendees) and hilarity (for the rest of us on social media) ensued.

Now, I’m not one to judge. If you want to spend thousands of dollars to go to an overblown and highly commercialised party with a dubious line-up — that’s your choice. It’s not my cup of tea, but hey, to each their own! But it got me thinking about some simple truths about self-reliance. My advice to everyone who went through the Fyre ordeal, or, indeed, to anyone who watched it from afar, is very simple: if you decide to travel to a remote location for an event, your personal safety should be your top priority and your own responsibility. Let’s have a quick refresher on what exactly “personal safety means” by using Fyre Festival as an example:

Stay hydrated and stay nourished

This should be a no-brainer, but apparently it’s not. Traveling to a tropical location by air is very taxing on your body. What you shouldn’t do in such a situation is ignore common sense and start downing the tequila without taking the necessary precautions. I’m all for a good night, but you should always have a bottle of water handy to sip on occasionally and another one stashed away for the end of the night. Hydration is such a basic human necessity that it’s really not something that you should outsource. Also, dehydrated people are cranky, panicky and slow — all the qualities you don’t want when something doesn’t go according to plan. Same goes for food. I don’t know about you, but when I haven’t eaten for a while, I get hangry. Again — not the best state to endure an emergency. So I always have an “emergency stash” with me. Pick something that’s not sugar or starch based: beef jerky, a protein bar, some trail mix. I’ve seen ravers in Barcelona unpack delicious sandwiches at 6AM. Those guys knew what they were doing!

Mind your stuff

Luggage gets lost, it gets misplaced and it sometimes take forever to find its way back to you. The simple rule of thumb is that if you can live without something, leave it at home. If can’t live without something, it goes in your carry-on. This includes: your ID, your phone, a charger, a power bank, any medication, and anything else you deem indispensable. But “minding your stuff” doesn’t end when you get off your preferred means of transport, it extends to the whole duration of your stay at the entertainment venue of your choice. Take a padlock. Use the lockers at the venue. Have a money belt on you at all times and carry all your valuables in it. Or ignore all this advice and just have your wits about you, but keep in mind that losing something important is what could ruin an otherwise awesome festival experience or night out.

Get your bearings

There’s a running joke among my friends that the first thing I do whenever I arrive somewhere is look for the bathroom. Well, it’s not a really joke, it’s actually something I do, bonus points for finding that one ladies’ loo that doesn’t have a giant line at all times of the day and night. This has an important underlying philosophy. Before you get the party started, you need to be well acquainted with your surroundings to have a smooth-sailing time! I’m an anxiety-prone person, so knowing where to go if I need to go is an important prerequisite for having a stress-free, fun-fuelled time. Same goes for pinpointing where to get your alcohol, where to get your food, where the paramedic is and, most importantly, where you’ve camped.

Have a back-up plan

Going to a festival, or an outdoor party of any description is usually a lesson in the surprising, accidental and unexpected. Unfortunately, that’s not always a good thing. None of us like to think of scenarios in which things go wrong (though some of us may or may not derive some perverse satisfaction from this activity), but some forward thinking could do you go. What happens if you hate it and you want to go home? What happens if you lose your friends in a crowd? What do you do if you lose your passport? You don’t need to go through every apocalyptic scenario under the sun, but it might be useful to keep a few emergency phone numbers and a photocopy of your ID handy. Just in case.

Don’t do stupid shit

I’ve not said anything groundbreaking throughout this post, but I think it’s important to get back to basics from time to time. The most basic idea of all is that you alone are responsible for your own wellbeing. I’m sure it’s nice to have a pampered, all-inclusive and decadent experience, but things have a tendency to go wrong. Take care of yourself like you would of a close friend or child. Don’t leave yourself unattended and uncared for. And remember, ultimately: it’s your choice to go on an adventure and nobody is responsible for your safety and wellbeing apart from yourself. So don’t do stupid shit and take the necessary precautions. Then go and have a great time.

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