There are hundreds, thousands, what feels like millions of sweaty, excited people, crowded around the one stage. You are all waiting for the same thing. There is a hum from the audience; a hum of anticipation. Old friends are chatting, new friends are bonding, strangers are even turning to one another with smiles plastered to their faces and eyes that say, “Any minute now.”
The sun is long gone, but lights stretch across the sea of heads, burning eyes and brightening faces. People behind you start to push their way forward, clawing at your shoulders in a desperate attempt to get an inch closer. But you sink your heels into the ground and wrap your arms around the barrier. No one can move you. They’ll be here any moment now.
Even though your chest is pressed so closely to the metal rail that each breath brings a fresh stab of pain, you don’t move. Not because moving seems impossible due to the hulk cemented into the ground behind you, but because you’ve been waiting too long for this moment to give in to pain. They’ll be here any second now.
The crowd has gone quiet and an unspoken bond tells you all to chant. The audience comes together in one big voice and you hope to God or Buddha or Ryan Gosling or whoever it is that you worship, that they come out soon. No matter how long you’ve been waiting, it feels like forever.
Suddenly the lights flare up. Feet step on to the stage. There is a deafening roar from the crowd. Someone comes out from around a corner and it’s a face that before now you had only seen in photographs. They smile to the crowd and that’s when you realise that this is it. This is real. This is the moment; it has finally arrived.
The Falls Music and Arts Festival at Marion Bay 2013 were the busiest, strangest, longest and most emotional days of my life to date. There were moments when I was not sure if my leg would ever become dislodged from the stranger’s entanglement of limbs in front of me. At one stage all I wanted was to close my eyes because I was absolutely positive that the strobe was going to give me an epileptic fit, but never did because I did not want to miss a single second of the performance.
Even though the first day was so windy that setting up a tent seemed impossible (and was actually proved to be impossible after mine tore in half from the effort), no one’s spirits were dampened. What seemed like everyone who bought a ticket partied on to a DJ’s set on a small stage with some big speakers that night and wasted whatever energy they had managed to preserve from a day of sitting around a campsite.
The second day had excitement pumping through everyone’s veins. We all knew the headliner would be appearing that night and wanted to make it through the day so we were able to see them. Some people queued up for forty minutes to get a coffee that morning while others caught up on a night of lost sleep by napping on the grass in front of the stages. That night brought the loudest and pushiest crowd I have ever been a part of, the brightest lights I have ever seen, and the best memories of my life.
With just a few restless hours of sleep under our belts, the Marion Bay crew then prepared for a new year. The sun’s presence was welcome until it charred our skin and we swore at it to disappear behind a thin cloud. Finally night came, and with it another chance to dance until we couldn’t feel our feet. And that’s exactly what we did. Hell, we even danced through the numbness and beyond until feet were naught but memories.
As quick as it had started, though the days had seemed to stretch out forever, our time was over. After our first night in 2014, tents were packed up, rubbish was littered along the ground like dull, poisonous flowers and goodbyes were said, along with promises to do it all again next year.