5 Times it’s OK To Judge at a Festival

The magic of the outdoor festival lies not just in gathering as a tribe to collectively bust a move to psychedelic tunes you can’t find anywhere else; it’s in the freedom discovered under a gum tree a million miles from the pesky world (with it’s laws and bills and deadlines).

A bush festival is a place where, no longer bound by the usual constraints of “civilised society”, you can frolic in free and naked ecstasy. It’s a place where nobody cares what you wear, no demands are made on your time, and you can express yourself without fear.

So, logically it follows that nothing is more anti-festival than the presence of a big fat judgey cat sitting up on their moral high horse judging all the filthy hippies below. Right?

Wrong! Whilst you’ll often hear the phrase, “I don’t judge maaan” (except of course, judgements relating to judgey people, who are judged to be despicable judgers!) uttered at a festival, there are in fact times when it’s not only perfectly acceptable to judge, but it’s necessary. Of course, we aren’t talking about judging someone’s value as a person here, we are talking about judging  behaviours and attitudes which fly in the face of the outdoor festival creed.



 Gaia, Mother Nature, Creation, call it what you will, outdoor ravers have a massive hard on for the Earth. Inside each doofer is a little tiny Planeteer trying to foil the evil, morbidly obese corporate bad guy who wants nothing more than to turn our bush into a wasteland overflowing with nuclear sludge and the plastic remnants of a consumerist society gone mad.

 Which is why, if you see someone littering at a festival, whether it be throwing a ciggie butt or empty into the nearest bush or casually pushing a couch down to the bottom of a ravine (ahh! Outta sight, outta mind!) it is OK to say, “Hey! That’s not OK!”.

Of course this doesn’t mean you need to tackle the perpetrator, brand the word “LITTER BUG” across the largest most accessible piece of flesh they have, and give them a stern talking to before release. A simple, “can you please use the bins” will go a long way.


Leaving a party under the influence

 We get it. It’s been a long weekend. You are just about all festivaled out. It happens to the most party hardy of us. By the end of the party a nap in the back of the van just aint gunna cut it. All you want to do is go home, fashion a nest out of the nearest linen pile you can find, stick an IV into your arm and sleep until you can feel your legs again.

Besides, everyone else is leaving and you want to get out of the camp site before the tracks to the main road turn to sludge and you’re forced to stay in the bush and live like a wild beast, foraging on nuts and berries and fashioning clothes out of stringy bark, forever.

But before you turn your key in the ignition, take a moment to think about all the extra risk factors involved in a half pissed drive home from a party. It’s a recipe for disaster: take one part poor co-ordination, two parts slow reflexes, three parts difficult terrain, and add 4 other people to the mix, stir, brake, and you’ve got yourself a tragedy cake! So, next time you see someone at a party about to endanger their lives at the wheel of a motor vehicle, judge away! Let them know it’s not safe, and you don’t want to be “eating their ghost chips bro”.


Going MA in a PG place

The great thing about outdoor parties is that, unlike night clubs, they aren’t just for teenagers looking to bump and grind on sticky floors with a $12 drink in one hand and a pack of tailors in the other. Most week-long outdoor festivals are meant for ages.

So whilst it’s parents responsibility to tuck their little kiddiwinks in safe and sound  at camp once night has fallen and the party gets a little more wild, it’s also partier’s responsibility to remember that outdoor parties are still a public place. Whatever your poison is, there’s no reason to indulge in broad daylight when little bush fairies and elves are running around enjoying their innocence.

 And that goes for parents too! If you see an adult getting MA in a place that is clearly PG, it’s OK to fall on your knees, throw your head back and scream at the top of your lungs, “Won’t somebody, please, THINK OF THE CHILDREN!”


The guy who just won’t STFU

 You know what I’m talking about. You’re on a hiatus from the dance floor, chillaxin’ by the fire with your friends, new and old. You’re deep into a conversation about the metaphysics of the universe and how everything is, like, intrinsically connected. The vibe is right. You are learning from each other, your mind’s opening and your third eye’s winking.

And then, from out of the darkness, staggers that guy. That guy who waltzes up to your conversation and decides to take a big fat dump on it.

He doesn’t know what you’re talking about really, he doesn’t care. All he knows is that he’s got an opinion on everything from Indigenous health care reform to what’s going on in the Ukraine and it’s his mission in life to enlighten your peasant brains.

He’s just inebriated enough to construe your polite attempts to redirect the conversation as blatant patronisation, and he’s not going to stand for it! Before long, each member of your group remembers they need to go wee wee, grab a drink, or call their long lost Aunt Ida, and you’re the only one left with THAT GUY.

When your good time is ruined by the conversational hijacker, we say, judge away! Of course, a long winded diatribe on the intricacies of conversational etiquette is probably not going to get the warm reception you’d like from an overstimulated troll at 2am. However, come the next morning, instead of whinging about what a downer he was, make it your mission to find that guy, and explain to him how he was last night. He probably doesn’t even remember.


The self-medicator

 Let’s use a handy little analogy to get our point across for this controversial topic. Say that you love the fair. Year round you hold off on all dagwood dog consumption because you know it just wouldn’t be the same sucking down one of those artery clogging bad boys at some other two-bit carnival. There’s something about the combination of flashing lights, loopy music and the presence of great friends which makes your town show the only place you want your lips to lock on one of those greasy heart attack sticks you know deep down are bad news for your body.

“Everything in moderation,” you tell yourself as you make your way to the vendor, cash in hand and heart racing. Suddenly, you catch a glimpse of a leg sticking out from behind the haunted house. Curious, you skulk over to have a look. There is your friend, a friend you never even knew ate dagwood dogs, moaning semi-conscious, face encrusted with tomato sauce. A half eaten dagwood lay in their hand, wooden sticks are strewn all around them.

They certainly haven’t treated the sacred stick or their body with the respect they deserve and now they are suffering.As you begin to drag their sausage filled body over to the nearest place of respite another friend approaches. This guy is a self-styled professor of carnival snacks. He doesn’t have any knowledge about how the body processes carnie food, he lets oily chin and protruding gut speak for themselves.

He recommends what your mate needs is a bag of fairy floss to counteract the fat and salt overload the dagwood dog binge has induced. His intention is good, but at the end of the day he has no idea how many bags of hot chips and caramel popcorn your mate has wolfed down before the dagwood dogs tipped him over the edge.

What is the point of this long winded analogy you ask? It’s simple.

1. It’s OK to judge carnival food which leaves people you love feeling awful. Of course, we don’t mean judge the person doing the eating as a filthy, worthless hotdog lover. What we mean is there’s nothing wrong with approaching your friend in kindness, sharing your concerns and listening to their needs so together you can help prevent future dagwood dog induced misery.

2. It’s OK to judge suggestions as to how to fix carnie food overdose if they don’t come from a bona fide medical professional. It’s better to leave the county fair with one recovering friend and one friend with a bruised ego than to leave with just one friend. 


Did your cortisol rise when you read this? Did your dopamine/serotonin/oxytocin begin to flow freely?

If my writing has elicited some sort of emotion within you, please help support my work. You can do this by:

  1. Contributing to my GoFundMe
  2. Leaving a comment explaining why you love/hate what you’ve seen here today
  3. Submitting a story idea or commissioning a piece

Thank you for supporting independent journalism and savage satire.