Your festival boyfriend: a whimsical fantasy

Image by the brilliant Stuart F Taylor

I wrote this last week when I was excited to go to a festival, pondering whether this might be the first time I ever got laid at one. I always have this romantic fantasy of finding a festival boyfriend – someone who I can snog while the bands are on, who then disappears into the night, not seen again until (perhaps) next year. But then every time I go to a festival with the aim of getting laid, I fail. But failure here is sweet and this is why. 

He catches your eye in the beer tent, your festival boyfriend. Gives you a smile and a nod. Mouths ‘cool shirt’ and lifts his plastic pint in a casual salute. You smile back, flushing hot with nervous energy, and wonder if you should go over and say hello. But you’re struggling to catch the attention of the stoner who’s working the bar, and you’ve got to get back to your friends. Besides, by the time you turn round, full hands sticky with cider, he’s gone. Your festival boyfriend has disappeared into the crowd.

You glance around a little more than usual when you exit the beer tent, wondering if he hung around. Hoping he might have. He’d be hard to spot because he blends in with everyone so easily. He’s about your age – give or take a year or two – with kind, bright eyes and messy hair. Wearing a faded t-shirt from this evening’s headliner, shiny with sweat and slightly grubby after two days of tent sleeping. Lovely hands, of course: something about the festival wristband draws your attention to them.

When you find your friends and deliver the drinks, they’re poring over Clashfinder. One or two of them are already high enough that they’ve forgotten which bands they’re here to see. You follow them to one of the smaller stages, so you can all sip your pints in the shade of the trees and listen to acoustic tunes, getting slowly stoned while the sun is at its hottest. Every now and then you turn to scan the crowd. Just checking.

For a man with kind, bright eyes and messy hair.

Later, you pile into the mosh pit. Immediately losing the two inches of lukewarm lager you were clutching when you blundered in. You briefly wonder if your festival boyfriend is the kind of man who’d do this: get lost in the sweaty tangle, bouncing in wobbly circles and screaming with glee when the front man of the band yells ‘what’s up?!’. Perhaps your festival boyfriend is more of a mid-section sway-and-smile type. Positioning himself in front of the sound stage for maximum aural enjoyment. Tapping his foot and occasionally whispering to his own friends about the set list.

It’s only a brief moment of wondering, though: you’re far too high on the music.

And your friends.

And the drugs.

And the pounding ache in your limbs as you hurl yourself into the slick mass of bodies and the thumping beat.

Later, as you stagger back to your tent, you catch a glimpse of telltale messy hair and a faded headline t-shirt. That feeling comes flooding back: the one from the beer tent. A flush of nervous excitement. That special, almost teenage-crush glow at his simplistic, obvious compliment: ‘cool shirt’.

In that moment you have a choice. You can run up the hill to catch him, fall into lockstep with this man who seemed to like you. Accompanying him a little way along the lantern-lit path to the campsite. Shivering in your beer-and-sweat-soaked t-shirt, you can slide up with a casual ‘hey! I recognise you from the bar!’ before nodding towards the main stage and asking ‘what did you think?’

Perhaps he’ll smile in recognition, your festival boyfriend. Grin at you and say ‘oh wow, it’s you! I waited outside the beer tent but I must have missed you.’ Perhaps he’ll slow his pace, drop back a little from his group of friends, who’ll whisper and giggle and make good-natured jokes to encourage him on.

You have a choice. You can approach this man with the messy hair if you like. And maybe he’ll take you deeper into the woods where the party’s still going. Where a DJ plays a set and bright lights flash and everybody looks and feels nineteen. Maybe he’ll take you by the hand – such soft hands, long fingers, fabric band tied loose around his wrist – and lead you somewhere you can kiss each other. He’ll look at you with those bright, kind eyes and your lips will meet his. He’ll taste like smoke and sweet cider and in the moment your tongues touch you’ll realise with a gleeful flash that you haven’t even asked this stranger’s name.

Perhaps you split a pill – biting crumbs of magic that’ll match your mood to his and make your skin tingle like you’re both in sync with the breeze. Or maybe share a joint instead – passing something sickly-scented back and forth in a haze. Lips meeting, breathing harmonised, inhaling each other’s smoke until one or both of you breaks away, giggling. Perhaps you don’t even want any of that – you’re high enough already on that teenage glow: impulsive, quickening lust. All that panting and groping. Eyes closed, music thudding in your chest and bright flashes dancing lightning on the inside of your eyelids. His hand sliding down the back of your jeans, your fingers tracing lines up the curve of his back.

If you make this choice, maybe you’ll get to fuck this man: your festival boyfriend. Maybe you’ll go back to his tent and shimmy out of that wet-sticky t-shirt, unzip his jeans and feel his cock pulse in your hand. Maybe he’ll whisper ‘sssh’ as he enters you. Perhaps he’ll be so gentle in his intensity that you have to hold your own hand over your mouth to keep from moaning aloud. Maybe you’ll forge a memory that will flash into your heart whenever you hear that headline band play: the rustle of sleeping-bags; the scent of beer and sweat and wet wipes and deodorant; the sound of chatting and singing from other camps nearby.

Each element combines to make the whole, like notes that form a chord. And every time you hear that chord you’ll remember this tiny slice of life. This moment that you seized. This burst of joy.

As he comes inside you, your festival boyfriend, you’ll bury your face in his two-day-old stubble and revel in being alive.

That’s a choice you can make right now. Run up, say hi, go get your festival boyfriend. Chat like this, make out like this, fuck like this, feel alive like this… then whisper as the sun comes up that you have to get back to your friends. Disappear through the zipped door and into the dawn. Stagger back to your own tent, grinning – the proud owner of a cool new story.


Or you could choose not to.

You could stay right here with your beautiful friends – your fucked-up festival family. The people whose tents got pitched in the space you’d been saving since you turned up on the very first day. The ones whose cars you trudged miles to in the baking heat because they’d overestimated how much Thatchers they could carry to the camp on their own. The people who shared joints and drinks and lukewarm water and precious battery life when you asked for them. The ones who’ll help you pack your own tent down on Sunday.

Maybe, instead of pursuing your festival boyfriend, you’ll head to your friends’ camp instead. Cuddle up next to a mate with messy hair and bright, kind eyes. Sing along with the gang – the only people in the world who know all the words to the exact same songs that you do. Who are usually scattered across the country and around the world, physically together for just one weekend each year. United by music tonight, then by laughter tomorrow morning when you emerge from your tent and trip over a giant pile of trash, declaring: ‘fuck all of you messy pricks, why am I here when I could have got LAID?!’

You put your arm round one of them – it doesn’t matter who, just the closest, you love them all – and enjoy feeling happy and safe. You’re very grubby after two days of tent sleeping. Getting slowly stoned while the moon is at its brightest. Hearing the distant thump of the DJ set in the woods. The sound of chatting and singing from other camps nearby. The rustle of sleeping-bags and the scent of beer and sweat.

Each element combines to make the whole, like notes that form a chord. And every time you hear that chord you’ll remember this tiny slice of life. This moment that you seized. This burst of joy.

And you will go to bed alone.

And you’ll never be alone.



I did not get laid at the festival. To be honest, after the first few hours, I could no longer be bothered to try. This is why. 


  • Flora says:

    It’s been roughly one month since my first major festival experience, a two-weekend affair that involved a couple of transatlantic flights and a few long-awaited, life-changing gigs. There I had my own attempt at a festival boyfriend, a Swedish guy I met on a dating up with whom I shared a few drinks, kisses and smoke exchanges before he decided he wanted to keep it friendly. But that was fun too: the guy had amazing musical taste and introduced me to a couple of bands I’ll be paying close attention to. I might never see the guy again unless I go to the same festival in the same city again, but just seizing those moments was definitely worth it. In the end, the (almost) festival boyfriend was just one of the ingredients of a mindblowing experience. That’s why those last two lines almost made me cry with joy and happy memories.

  • Flora says:

    dating app* oops

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