Seven Tips to Finding Lost Friends at Raves and Festivals

Time Warp Mannheim 2012

Where’s Wally?

Sooner or later the following shall happen to you at a rave or festival, no matter how many friends you’re with. You’ll have lost everyone and you’ve looked just about anywhere, your friends nowhere to be found. If you’re like me you’ll see this as an excuse to party by yourself for a while, but even I eventually like to be able to reunite with friends. Here’s some tips that helped for me. Feel free to add your own in the comments.

1) Know Your Friend’s Must-See Gigs

This one is a good failsafe to have in place at large raves and festivals just in case all hope shall be lost and your iPhone battery long gone flat. Go ahead and show some interest in your friends their musical taste. Talking about music is fun anyways. Talk about which gigs you definitely won’t miss. And ask your friends about what gigs are most important for them.  Try not to end up with a minute by minute list of 10+ gigs per person; there’s no way that’s going to work. Instead keep it simple, look for the most special one or two gigs (a day) instead. If you’re good friends you may already be able to guess this, but even then it doesn’t hurt to talk about this. Know where to look. At Time Warp Holland 2012 in the Jaarbeurs, Utrecht I knew my friends wouldn’t miss Gui Boratto no matter what – after not having seen them for what felt like hours and no way to reach them due to an unavailable network I easily found them there again, right in front of Gui Boratto.

2) Agree on a Meeting Point

Whenever I arrive at a rave or festival one of the first things I’ll do (after getting a beer) before going into seeing gigs, is to explore the premises. Not only will learning the layout save you time later when you’re trying to get from one gig to another in different musical floor, it also helps finding lost friends. Make sure your friends tag along with you as you discover the venue (get yourself a drink first). Discover the layout together and see what would make for a proper meeting point in case you’ve lost each other. Be aware it  will probably be a lot more crowded later on and thus take much longer from A to B. So choose something that’s central and somewhat unique. Choose something that’s a little bit away from the raving masses too.

Meeting Points That Don’t Work

  • In the middle of a music floor (way too many people)
  • Bars (there’s usually many bars and they’re mostly busy, it easily gets confusing)
  • Things or beings that move (doh)

Meeting Points That Do Work

  • Food court (be warned there can be more than one)
  • Merchandise stand
  • The market place (preferably a specific stand)
  • Lockers (although usually not very central)

Meeting at Gigs

If you and your friends are really into the music and don’t want to miss anything of all the music sweetness you can agree on a generic meeting point at gigs that works in all music floors. Whenever I lose my friends I usually find them back in the frontline of some gig. When they’re nowhere to be found in the frontline of gig A I could always try at gig B. I’ve reunited with friends at festivals mostly in the very front lines; right in front of the DJ or a left/right loudspeaker. And they’ve found me there, many many times. It works.

Buiten Westen 2012 in Amsterdam

Attractions like these also make for great meeting points…

3) Save Your Phone’s Battery Life

Did you fully charge your mobile phone? Battery at 100%? If it’s a smartphone it sure won’t be for long. Before you know it you will have hit the 20%, and from there you’ll hit 0% way too soon. So cut down on the Facebook status updates and stop Tweeting and checking in. Don’t be filming using your mobile phone – save your batter life until you need it. Turn down the brightness. Turn off 3G internet. No network? Try walking to a more quiet spot away from the masses; you’ll actually may have reception there. Depending on the length of the rave or festival there’s a good chance your smartphone battery will eventually hit rock bottom. If you bring your smartphone you might as well bring your charger too – they’re not all that big anyways. If you ask nicely you may get lucky tapping in at one of the food or market stands to get a bit of battery life.

TIP: Get yourself a cheap secondary phone with a battery that lasts (no smartphone) and share that phone number with your friends.

4) Send Clear Text Messages

‘Where are you’, they ask in their text messages. ‘At the bar’ they answer. That will do just fine at a festival with just one music floor and one bar – in any other case that description will be way too generic and mostly likely it won’t lead you to reunite. You’ll be texting back and forth and eventually give up. It is possible to explain your position in one text message if you put in a bit more effort. Before answering the ‘where are you?’ take some time to look around you. Pin point your location by drawing two dimensional lines (like the X and Y lines of math). One from the stage and from the sides. Look for bars, speakers and supporting pillars. There’ll be more than one so be clear about it. I’ll be doing a article on how to send clear text messages, so more about that later.

5) Plan to Reunite Later (Instead of Now)

It takes time to get from A to B, especially at large crowded festivals. There’s many things that can happen between the moment your friend sent you that text message; you reading it and you getting to that meeting spot. Not just because cell reception may be poor and you not hearing your phone, but also because in the meantime perhaps your friends had to go for a toilet break (there’s usually queues), gotten thirsty (queues at the bar too) or simply have moved to another place or gig. When you find meeting in the now doesn’t work you may want to try planning for a meet up say an hour later at one of those meeting points you agreed upon earlier. Keep an eye on the time table too – if your friend’s favorite gig is playing at your suggested time don’t ask them to come to the food court. If you’re really good friends they may come if you ask, but surely you want him/her to see his/her favorite gig he/she looked forward to for months. Right? Meet at the gig instead.

6) Make Yourself Easy to Spot

You may know exactly what your friends look like but if you’re looking at a crowd of thousands of ravers there’s a good chance you’re looking at your friends without actually spotting them. Kinda like those ‘Where’s Wally?’ books. There’s something you and your friends can do about that to greatly increase your chances. Wear a funny hat, get glowsticks, bring a flag or some funny atribute. Or a combination of all of that. Be creative. Don’t hold in – the crazier the better!

Mario's Hat

My friend Mario’s Hat – Easy to spot during both day and night

7) Stay (Somewhat) Sober

Okay, staying sober may not be an option for some. At least realize that it’ll be much harder to reunite with friends once you’re intoxicated. Sobering up will take some hours depending on what you took and when. I’m not saying it’s impossible to plan to reunite when you’re on alcohol and/or drugs. But when reading and writing proper text messages has become near impossible you might as well forget about reuniting and enjoy the moment by yourself (perhaps meet some new people in the process?). There’s people I know that couldn’t find their friends who were standing no more than 2 metres away from them. There’s also people I know who thought they had lost their phone while they were actually holding it in their hands. Drugs are bad m’kay?

Lost & (not) Found

Lost & (not) Found

Conclusion

The best way to reunite with friends is not to loose them in the first place. Stay together from start to end, don’t split up. But sometimes it just happens and you end up alone anyway. So what tip did you find most useful and how do you find your lost friends at raves and festivals? Do let us know in the comments!

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