People You can Meet at EDM Music Festival

Beyond the publicity and crowds of Burning Man, a series of smaller weekend-long EDM Music gala have become a common feature along the spine of California. Some boast free yoga classes under redwood boughs and come-one-come-all “squish tents,” while others advertise technicolor-forest escapes and high-budget art installations. With a title that could double as a Neil Gaiman novel (Northern Nights, Lightning in a Bottle, Stilldream, Nocturnal Wonderland), and a soundtrack of teeth-numbing bass, they all have a common mission: to bring the world together under a banner of ecstasy-fueled oneness. Considering heading to one of these Dionysian weekends of self-discovery? Here’s a helpful guide for some of the new friends you will meet.

Babe Crew – friend

A multi-armed amoeba of Instagram dreams, bedecked with Janis Joplin glasses, fluffy boots, “tribal” face paint (don’t ask too many questions here), and very little else, these girls are here to set the tone for your weekend. They love each other. They love you. Their hair never gets dirty despite the constant dust and the punishing 95-degree heat. Most of them were recently released from the shackles of successful nuclear families and have never seen cellulite in a mirror, so “free love” presents itself as a pretty obvious and available life choice. Reliably follow them to a better party than the one you’re at. If you see a Babe separated from her Babe Crew, you are morally obligated to help her. Like the faeries they so model themselves after, Babes have the protection of the children of the forest. You don’t really want to mess with this. Keep your lost Babe hydrated. Never harm her.

Puppy friend

A 20-year-old wonderboy camping alone in a Coleman pop-up, he wanders into your camp as you’re setting up and offers to help—your first taste of pure altruism from a stranger. Is this free-love thing real? But based on his nonstop complaining about his family and the oxy pinpricks of his eyes, you quickly realize that this kid desperately needs love and structure. You want to like him, but after three hours of hearing about his dad, you kinda get why he’s here alone. Send him good vibes. Find a way to dodge him.

The Soulmates – friend

These two are having a better time than any of us, despite the fact that they have done nothing but stare into each other’s eyes since Friday. They road-tripped here from Repressville, Idaho, escaping her evangelical father and his alcoholic mother. Although their hands appear to have fused together in a recent chemical accident, they are on their way to a better future. And in truth, they are chock full of good advice about standing up for yourself, overcoming trauma, and recognizing toxic patterns in your own life. They treat each other with such piercing reverence, you’ll be questioning every great relationship you think you’ve ever had. You want to live in their world. You want to be their future flower children. But for the most part, unless you are camping next to them, you’ll never see them. They’re too busy swimming in each other’s souls in a tent.

Festy Daddy friend

This guy is your dad, if your dad did acid and was into biodynamic farming. He has the med kit. He has batteries. He has real fucking food (not the pile of Snickers bars you left melting on your pillow). He is a beacon of calm, paternal energy when the port-o-potties start to overfill at 1:00 a.m. He might offer you a slice of quiche from his yeti cooler if you hang out near his Airstream long enough. He’s had sex with more Babe Crews than you’ve had hot meals, but that’s kinda behind him now, because he’s typically partnered with…

Earth Mama friend

A mama is usually, but not always, a successful graduate of a Babe Crew. She has a shade structure, a cooler of organic vegetables, and will talk you through your bad high. She’s been coming here since they started it, and despite the fact that every year she spends hours helping to build the goddess altar and the crystal temple, you rarely ever find her in either space. Her outdoor rug is where a Puppy will pass out at 4:00 a.m. after he has been confronted with the reality that most people only want to give free love to hot chicks, not crying teenagers. In the morning, she’ll feed him a scramble and nod along as he recounts what he realized about his childhood last night, before telling him that he needs to get up and help clean, or at least get her a cigarette.

Sparklebros friend

The only people on this list who still mix LSD and beer. They rode here from the frat house on a tidal wave of neon optimism and late-stage male puberty hormones. Armed with fuzzy backpacks, glowsticks, windbreakers, and what you think might be a stockpile of airhorns, half of them are here to nail a Babe Crew (the other half are lying about it). But by Sunday, a few of them have actually taken a meditation class or had a trip that made them wonder—very quietly—if there’s actually something more meaningful to this place. Not unlike a grizzly bear feigning a charge, they will generally ignore you as they stampede their way to the main stage on Saturday night. They’re deceptively harmless unless you’re trying to sleep—in which case, kill yourself.

Unicorn friend

A manic pixie dream girl with a Sunday-night expiration date. She hitchhiked here on a celestial stork without a scrap of food or shelter to her name (there was no room on the stork). You run into her after she runs into you, grabs your face, and asks earnestly, “ISN’T THIS THE BEST?” She will cuddle you constantly, laugh at all your jokes, and be the only person who actually listens when you start confessing your fears and dreams. She’ll say she doesn’t need help, but you know she has no food, so you try to get Festy Daddy to give her some of that quiche. Not to be confused with a mooch, a Unicorn is not afraid to wash some dishes or run errands for you in exchange for hospitality. But inevitably, she’ll vanish just as quickly as she turned up. Don’t be surprised when she reappears in your tent at 2:00 a.m., spins around in a circle, and passes out in the glow of your body heat.

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