THAT'S LIFE: Light & shades

Gentlemen of the Road festival at Dungog Showground. Picture: Peter Stoop
Gentlemen of the Road festival at Dungog Showground. Picture: Peter Stoop

When you lose contact with your ‘‘people’’ at a the end of a long day of music festival revelry,  is it better to stand still in the crowd and let your people come to you?

Or should you strike out boldly into the night and hope by some miracle you find them because they’re your ride home?

It’s an age-old conundrum, made all the more poignant if you’re wearing prescription sunnies.

That was the scenario at Dungog recently  after attending the Mumford & Sons-inspired Gentlemen of the Road concert.

I’d been wearing hat and sunnies  all day. 

They’d been appropriate that morning sampling Dungog’s delights in 35-degree heat.

  And they’d seemed pretty cool  that afternoon  lounging around  like kangaroos waiting for the sting to go out of the day.

But they proved a real tactical error when the sun went down and you couldn’t see anything below head height. Ten thousand heads worth of height.

 When we’d pushed into the ground mid-afternoon I’d opted not to grab my normal glasses from the car because ... I don’t know ... a lack of foresight about short sight in hindsight.

The upshot was that at dusk  I morphed into Ray Charles. Not a problem,  given it was all about the music at that stage, and I could still see what was going on on stage.

 I quickly got separated from my group, which was not a problem either because I knew they were out there somewhere amongst all the other groovers.

I was content to bop away in the throng going spazzo every time someone played a banjo.

The problem started when it came time to go home.

That meant I had to move. And  that’s not as straightforward as it sounds in a  smudgy scuba mask with bodies and bags and water bottles everywhere.

Not only did I struggle  to make out the pre-arranged  rendezvous point,  I struggled to make out anything at all  unless it grunted when I stood on it.

So for a good while, I didn’t move at all.

Which didn’t get me any closer to my ride home, but it did get me  closer to feeling like I would be stuck in Dungog overnight.

Not that I doubted my mates. Like Jesus and George Michael, you gotta have faith they wouldn’t bail.

But sensory deprivation plays havoc with the mind.

After about an hour of bumbling into fences and tripping over who knows what, I Neil Armstronged down to the mixing desk area. With any luck, as the crowd dispersed I could see my rescue party or more likely vice versa.

That’s when the post-gig rave disco went off like a phosphorous bomb, igniting the senses yet again and bringing in more people to step on.

There was no mobile reception so I couldn’t let my people  know  Stevie Wonder was down.

 So I tentatively made my way to nowhere in particular and pondered again what it’s like to  feel  alone in a crowd. Not unlike an abalone diver, actually.

Eventually, as is often the case in redemption stories, I headed towards the light. At least in the light I could make out shapes.

And sure enough one of those shapes  turned out to be my mate who greeted me as if nothing had happened.

And really nothing had, apart from him traipsing back to the car three or four times looking for me. No dramas, he said, cool as ever. Speak for yourself, I thought. 


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