Glitter, Groovin the Moo and figuring it out together

11 May 2017

Glitter of all colours whirling through the air. Crushed cans of Somersby sprawled across grass. Pupils so large there aren’t any irises left. A sea of sticky bodies moving together like a pulsing wave.

There’s only one context in which these images are deemed natural.

Groovin the Moo is one of Australia’s most beloved travelling music festivals, bringing local and international acts alike to regional areas across the country. Bendigo saw thousands of Victorians, and rovers from all over, dance for 12 hours straight last Saturday.

On the line-up were Melbourne talents such as The Smith Street Band and Alex Lahey, as well as massive names like UK’s The Wombats and Germany’s Milky Chance. Despite the disappointment of illness preventing both Tash Sultana and Montaigne from appearing in Bendigo, the day was full of mesmerising performances.

But it’s really the wonderfully intense group mentality of a festival that makes me spend hundreds of dollars on them each year. Groovin is one of the best examples of this, as partiers are forced to flock to a rural town, no one quite knowing the ropes of the place. Figuring it out together.

It all began with five University of Melbourne students making the almost two-hour trip from Melbourne to Bendigo. We apply silver stars to our cheeks in the review mirror, parked on a footy field amidst a community of green P platers, all hoping to be able to find our cars again when we stumble back.

“Wanna sip?” says a boy with greasy hair and a tie dyed t-shirt.

We reach the festival grounds and make our way to the over-18s line. Greasy Hair offers a whiskey-filled water bottle as we get dangerously close to the entrance.

“I’m not gonna be able to finish this in time, might as well still be drank!”

Everyone becomes oddly generous at a gig like this. As if we’re all part of a big, sparkly support group.

With a few harmless squeezable yoghurt packets down our pants, my friends and I stroll through the gates without even having our bum bags checked. After years of festival-going, we’re well rehearsed in the act of groovin our way past security. Or perhaps the festival volunteers, most of whom are barely older than us, just don’t give a shit what we smuggle in.

Strangers engage us in high fives and winks as we all transfer goods from our pants to our jacket pockets.

In the mosh pit people push push push in an attempt to get close to their favourite act, not quite intending to shove others out of the way but doing so regardless. A girl with wild aqua hair helps me up when I fall to the ground. Everyone beams and raves together no matter the genre of music being blasted.

Needing to pee is a horror at a festival, but it’s worth the struggle to stay hydrated. It takes 20 minutes of weaving your way out of the mosh. Then waiting  a further 20 minutes in line for a port-a-loo, before deciding the line is way too long and joining a group of brave hearts squatting under a tree next to the far fence.

An ‘I’ve lost my friends!’ freak out results in a group of people in matching cow costumes helping you locate your buddies and making sure you safely make your way back into the mosh. Hopefully you’ve only missed one set.

When night falls, a boy in a rainbow poncho looks around frantic, so I offer him some gum. He takes three pieces and we hug. My small friend is lifted onto Rainbow Poncho’s shoulders so he can see. He takes a sip of his yoghurt, cringes, and then looks down at me, elated.

After the tunes have wrapped up, thousands swarm out of the grounds and hold hands as we cross roads and find our respective campsites/cars/bus stops. My friends and I curl up in the back of our car and dig into a kilo tub of hummus.

We share some with our neighbours and have a moment of silence for those who were too lit to get into Groovin in the beginning, because they missed out on a hell of a good time.

I crave the next one.

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