6 Lessons from My First Bonnaroo Experience
Tuesday, June 18, 2019
By Judith Hill Photography
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A few days ago, I experienced Bonnaroo for the first time with Justin. I  joined 90,000 other people for a weekend of music, community and camping. 

The Roo, as they call it, is a place where everyone is welcomed and anything goes.

So, first let's get the big question out of the way - Would I ever go back? The answer is YES! 

Actually, I wish the world operated on the Roo mindset - all are welcome; art is a way of life; it is safe to be who you want to be; we are all in this together; love each other and help each other out because we are a community.

I thought it would be fun to share the top 6 take aways from the Roo, and all my pictures. This is my experience through my lens. All images are taken with my iPhone 10 and edited in Snapseed, my favorite editing app. 

Here are my 6 Lessons from Bonnaroo:

1.) It's a Community. 

We are all on a farm to enjoy music. We are all having this massive experience together. People were helping each other, everyone was happy, and there were no fights or arguments. Imagine that...90,000 people in one place and no fights; all love; all community. At one point I was at a Lumineers show and the whole crowd was arm in arm, hugging and swaying to the music. We were all present to do the same things: check out, enjoy music, life and friends....some to the max and some just until 11pm or so ;). I enjoyed my immediate community and loved just hanging out with friends at the campsite with the music and crowds in the background. It was great. Now, I want to go camping more.

2.) Your Mindset Matters. Radiate Positivity. Everything is Art.

You will be camping on a farm. It will be dusty as hell. You will be using a porta potty (unless you are on an RV or Bus) but they clean them several times a day so that's really great. Some friends do a festival fast to avoid such things. Every walk of life you can imagine is there. The festival will be filled with half naked, sweaty, dusty people; people in crazy costumes; and people acting out random expressions of art. Actually, everything at Bonnaroo is an expression of art. That's why, the weirder, the better. There are lots of normal people too. And everyone's attitude is one of kindness and love. Everyone smiles and has a helping hand, or a kind word to share with strangers. It has a ripple affect amplified by the bands encouraging it. It's all about rallying to have a good time. At least here, we all have more in common than we don't, and for a few days you forget about the world we live in where a lot of separation and hate exists. It's almost utopia except for the dust and the porta potty of course.

3.) Clothing is optional.

Like I said above, this is a farm filled with lots of half naked people. Leading up to the event, like most girls, I was very concerned about what to wear. Well, that was silly because you can wear as little as possible (just stickers covering your boobs for example), a costume, a bathing suit, shorts and a tank top or flowy dresses (I chose that last two). So when I say anything goes...I mean EVERYTHING goes here and all are welcomed.

4.) You will not get to see every band. 

I only saw John Prine and Cardi B's shows from start to finish. John Prine was on top of his game. He sounded great and even did a little dance at the end. I love him so much, and I always think of my late friend Ann Soyers when I see him. And Cardi B was awesome, y'all! I'm so fascinated by her story...a stripper turned rapper with hit after hit in a very short amount of time.  Thousands stayed to see her. I came back to see her. And every young person was singing at the top of their lungs every word to her songs. And, I have never seen so many white girls twerking. I was very impressed. Haha!  The best part was her ripping her body suit, and she owned it fully by stopping the show to say "Y'all I just ripped my outfit. I'm going to finish this set and I gotta change"; then she came out in a white bath robe and strapless bra. Only Cardi B...I love her more because she can obviously only be 100% Cardi B all of the time, and I respect that fully. 

I also loved Kacey Musgraves playing her new record "Golden Hour" during golden hour and the Pride Parade ended on her stage. 

There were so many amazing bands and shows that I wanted to see and didn't get to because other bands were playing at the same time or I opted to break from the festival to get on the Lake or run to Nashville quickly for a nap and shower.

5.) I really am claustrophobic.

I thought it was only elevators, but even an open field with thousands of people can get me in a panic. I tried to stick it out for Childish Gambino but I think all 90,000 people went to his show. I couldn't see and people were dancing, pushing, and smothering so I had to get the hell out of there, quickly. 

6.) Bring Ear Plugs.

When music plays until 7am you're going to want ear plugs. I repeat, music does not start at 7am; it stops at 7am. When you wake up at 6 am and you hear the DJ say, "good morning Bonnaroo, you aren't going to bed yet" a few things go through your mind...what time is it and who are these people and how are they still up? We were camping behind the stages in the artists guest/ VIP camp site so we could feel the base every night. A small price to pay for access. But the ear plugs really helped drown the noise. I woke up everyday around 7:45am when everything got super quiet which seems counter intuitive, but I also didn't make it past 11:30pm so there's that. Once we got up, we walked around. The weather was amazing. People were either going to yoga, getting coffee, food or still up drinking because they had not gone to sleep. It was quite the experience and sight to see. 

Here it is through my lens. 

Leave a comment:
Judith Hill - Yes, girl! We have a tent now and hiking shoes! :) I'm upping my camping game.
Marianne - I remember my first Roo. Love this write up, friend! Made me want to go back to the farm. Let’s go camping!