Outside Lands

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Outside Lands in plain words is described an annual three-day music and arts festival produced by Another Planet Entertainment.  The inauguration of Outside Lands kicked off on August 22, 2008.  I was there and I’ll never forget Thom Yorke singing his heart out “There are two colors in my head, There are two colors in my head”,  it is one of the best memories of my life. This year Outside Lands celebrated the ten year anniversary of the festival. I’m going to describe what my experience has been with the festival and how to prepare for it. Key words to keep in mind are MY EXPERIENCE. Outside Lands offers a plethora of entertainment options and it is what the festival goer makes of it!  Every Outside Lands reveler will have their own unique experience. The Outside Lands festival is held in August annually in chilly San Francisco’s famous fog. It takes place in the lush green misty urban forest bestowed with the name of  Golden Gate Park. Benjamin Franklin said “if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!”, which is why I always say “LOGISTICS FIRST!” Nobody gets into the festival without a ticket, except if you jump the fence which I witnessed and so did everybody that watched the eleven O clock news after Outside Lands. Media crews are filming all over the festival. Purchase your festival tickets as soon as they are released for sale. The festival has sold out every year. If you are into luxury, your own personal space, nice clean restrooms and comfort just bite the bullet and buy a VIP ticket. Rent a locker. Understand that moving around in a crowd and transporting over two hundred thousand people most of which have been drinking alcohol and using drugs can be frustrating. Arrange your transportation well in advance. There is a shuttle that leaves from the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. Book your accommodations well in advance. A fifteen-minute walk from the shuttle pick up was my choice of accommodation during the festival. The Hotel Adagio provided a tremendous amount of comfort and hydration while I was resting and making daily preparations for three days of festival revelry. Download the Outsidelands app. Review the rules of what you can and can’t bring.  Thoroughly review the festival map and offerings. Work out timelines, what you want to see, and eat. Include line waiting time! Get used to line cutters, brainstorm and prepare to deal with them. Line cutting is rampant.  Understand that some acts are first to come, first serve and maybe you don’t get to see what you want because others lined up first and got into the tent before you did.  If you are going with a group start working on communication skills and be clear about making plans while sobriety is present. I did not work out any plan of attack or communication with my group on day two of the festival and it was confusing and awful. Instead of enjoying the festival there was just a bunch of frustrating miscommunication and miles and miles of walking back and forth, up and down, fighting my way through enormous crowds to only see glimpses of what I wanted to see.  The lack of communication left me disappointed with sore legs and feet that weren’t very useful for a successful day three. All this liberal use of the word festival may cause visions of fleshy scantily clad girls dressed in stereotypical festival fashion, which is a great path into the logistics of prepping the body for the elements of San Francisco’s famous weather. Weather, no pun intended or not Mark Twain said ” The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco”, there are descriptive words in that debated quote to guard oneself against when planning on spending three days outside in the foggy San Francisco air in the misty Golden Gate Park.  Hip Hop artist YC says “racks on racks.” I say layers on layers on layers! The maritime surroundings of San Francisco combine with the unique California climate to produce a multitude of extremely varied micro climates. What on earth does that mean? It means there are extreme changes in weather that happen within the forty-nine-mile radius of San Francisco. Example, on my way to Outside Lands I walked from the Hotel Adagio to the Bill Grahm Civic center under a brilliant cobalt blue sky adorned with bright white gorgeous puffy Nintendo clouds. I peeled off my layers and was sweaty even though I was wearing hardly anything of a tiny dress. About forty minutes later by the time my shuttle bus pulled up to Golden Gate Park, it parked under the nastiest grayest sky and when I exited the bus I was greeted by very chilly air. No problem, like I, said layers on layers. During the festival, a lovely young lady walked up to me and said” you are my hero in that dress”, another tiny girl approached me and said, “aren’t you freezing?” The temperature of freezing is thirty-two degrees Fahrenheit. The temperature during the tenth anniversary of Outside Lands fluctuated between fifty-six degrees Fahrenheit and sixty-six degrees Fahrenheit, nowhere near freezing. Chilly would be my choice of description. Time and patience must be put into clothing selection for three days of literally chilling out in the Golden Gate. Key tips are keeping hands, head, and feet warm, staying dry, hydrated, moving, and being in a crowd. Toss a mint and chamomile tea bag in a refillable water bottle. The mint and chamomile should help keep a calm happy tummy while indulging in the famous gastronomic delights of Outside Lands. There are many water filling stations. Stay hydrated. Water helps retain body heat. Heat loss is faster on your body where blood vessels are near your skin, like the neck, head, ears, hands, and feet. I wore large brimmed warm felt and leather hats every day not just for looks but for warmth. When the mist fell heavy on the San Francisco night the hats kept me and my hair dry and with the exact same hair do I entered the festival with. I had my own micro climate going on around my face, neck, and ears. I also wore a skin tight slip as a second skin under my dresses to retain any body heat trying to escape. Heavy knee high socks covered by my thick leather cowboy boots provided enough warmth to keep me from running away from the chill in the air. I wore a heavy long sweater to stay warm and weight my dress down just in case the wind picked up. My preparations in the fight against the chilly air were so successful that at times I took off my boots, socks and danced around while some of the bands played. Consideration in clothing choice is not only to protect against the weather but to also protect against the bathroom conditions provided at the festival. The bathroom facilities for a general admission ticket are beyond disgusting. My thick leather cowboy boots were not only worn for warmth but for enduring the horrific conditions of the Porta potty. I wore a dress because it is easy to lift up when navigating a tiny Porta Pottie. I’m not exaggerating my description of the restroom facilities when I write that I entered a Porta potty and witnessed massive amounts of human feces sprayed down with urine made into an excrement stew, more than once! Ladies take note and think twice about wearing a long dress, floor sweeping bell bottoms, and sandals. Do bring hand sanitizer!  The nasty Porta potty was not the only horrid bathroom situation. Literally, a high number of men took their penises out and urinated next to anyone. I hate to date myself but I’m just not even sure when it became acceptable for public urination or a man exposing his penis to a lady or in general public, which opens up a rabbit hole. At the end of that rabbit hole are the different customs of all the different generations representing at Outside Lands as well as foreigners who have traveled far across the globe for the festival fun. Outside Lands offers something for everyone which means the demographic is across the board. Prepare to walk in enormous crowds and stand in lines with baby boomers, Gen Xers, Millenials, as well as foreigners. Please try to respect one another. It will only lead to more enjoyment out of an amazing festival. Spread a blanket on the grass, hang out with friends. Make new friends listen to music, laugh at comedy, eat and drink. Experience the customs of different generations. Exercise walking from stage to stage, and dance to digest all the fabulous food and keep warm. With Outside Lands offering so much to do, festival attendees need to take a look at what is most desirable to them and make their selections based on their desires. My favorite part of Outside Lands is the lighting designers. If I have to suggest one must do at the Festival, it would be to walk the festival in the less populated areas in the darkness and admire the trees lit up in a riot of color. It is beyond magical. It is like walking through a dramatic enchanted forest. It leaves me with more than two colors in my head and always the desire to return.

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