We’ve all been there. You end up at an event and you’re just not quite feeling right. Maybe the DJ isn’t spinning the beats you came to dance to or maybe the crowd is feeling just a little too crowded, but whatever it is, there are steps you can take to help yourself or another person get back to homeostasis.
What to do if you or a friend have anxiety at a show? Let’s get introspective to get to the root of the issue. Figure out what’s wrong.
Is it a physical discomfort?
Are you thirsty? Do you have to pee? Is it cold? Is the music too loud? Do you feel self-conscious about what you picked to wear?
All of these are straightforward to handle. Set a meeting point with friends if you need to find a bottle of water or purchase a commemorative t-shirt to cover those nips and feel more wrapped up.
Is it social?
Is a friend upsetting you? Did you show up alone hoping to meet some new friends?
Are there too many people walking in front of your view? Is the crowd too thick?
Talk to people you came with and see if relocating to a tamer location will help you feel less claustrophobic. If you didn’t come with anyone, find a nice place to settle in and people-watch until you feel more adjusted to the environment and the music takes over. A cuddle puddle or lawn spot will work perfectly, just make sure you’re not somewhere you’ll get stepped on! If you still feel anxious, search out a kindred spirit nearby who seems to also need a friend. Some of my favorite people in my life have come from inviting a solo-dancer to dance with our group! What’s the worst thing that can come of it? You’ll never see this person again? That’s what I thought.
Is it something you ingested?
Look, things happen. Someone trips and falls into a puddle of psychedelic stew. There’s no going back, but how can you move forward? Many times it’s sensory overload. Try removing yourself from the crowd and putting in some earplugs, maybe finding some light if it feels too dark and sinister in there. Ask your friends to calm you down. Go to the bathroom or an outside area (depending on the venue they may not allow re-entry, but they generally have smoking areas that do) to get some space and light. Some people say drinking alcohol will kill a trip and some people recommend antipsychotics, antidepressants, or benzos if you are prescribed them. Some insist the only real cure is time. I’m not a doctor and the Internet has vast opinions on the subject, so take it all with a grain of salt. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from a stranger or an organization and possibly remove yourself from the event completely. Many larger events will have medical and harm reduction tents set up for this specifically. They would rather help you than have you get hurt or have a miserable time.
Bigger festivals will have medical teams roaming the grounds to make sure everyone is staying safe, but some common organizations you can visit include: DanceSafe, MAPS Zendo Project, Ankors, and others.
Just remember, we’re all in this together. This whole scene is based on Peace, Love, Unity, and Respect. Stay hydrated - especially if it’s hot and you’re moving around. Anyone can help calm you down if you’re feeling anxious and get you into the right hands if they don’t feel qualified. Don’t EVER be afraid to ask for help.