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Crazy at festivals Why do we go crazy for/at festivals?

Is it the great music, the togetherness vibes, the idolization of the bands… that make us go crazy? Or is there more psychological sh*t behind our strange behavior at festivals? According to Dr. Hans van de Sande, social psychologist at the Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, there is a social psychological explanation for our typical festival behavior. Entering a festival site is like entering another world, a closed environment where we can escape the everyday behavior rules. In this closed environment we decide ourselves what is normal.

For instance, why do we like the mosh pit? At first sight, it looks like a bunch of crazy macho boys trying to impress their (girl)friends, but according to Dr. van de Sande it is a way of ventilating our aggression. In today’s world, we live in a spectator society, we love to be entertained and are simply less active. But our bodies are still filled with energy and aggression; as today’s society leaves little room to express these feelings, we look for other opportunities to ventilate these feelings. At a festival, this type of aggression becomes conditioned. People joining a mosh pit are not angry, it is a combination of dancing and ventilating our aggression.

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And here’s another one: why do young women show their boobs? For the record, not something I would do or ever have done, but you could explain this as a way to stand out from the crowd. One of (wo)men’s greatest fears is to not be noticed, so in this massive crazy crowd you have to go to the extremes to stand out…

Music festival audience

And there is plenty of other atypical behavior that shows just how a festival really is a different world with different rules. For instance our festival wear, which is distinctly different from our everyday street fashion. Co-blogger Natalie wrote an article about this last year. People bring along the strangest set of items, from an inflatable crocodile to their very own (group) mascot. People do not shower for days without worrying about possibly stinking. Everyone throws their litter on the ground without worrying about penalties…

A recent study by the University of Queensland teaches us more about the impact of music festivals on our social well-being. Based on discussions with young people, they managed to outline the four facets of a music festival experience that are important to festival-goers. So stay tuned for other festival news as we will be sharing more on this matter in the coming weeks.

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