On Saturday morning, Roommate and I sat at the New Moon coffee shop tent in CenterRoo and met some of the people who worked there. One of the guys said that it was his second Bonnaroo and that he explained the event to his friends as being “like an Amsterdam in the US for four days.” That’s the best description of the Bonnaroo environment that I’ve heard. Note that he said this as he lit up a bowl and commented that he could still taste last night’s opium in it.
Drug use is overt and ubiquitous at Bonnaroo. Back in the day when I was in college, I had a couple of friends who dealt pot, but most were casual users and normally so broke that the most they could hope to score was a dime-bag from time to time.
While waiting in line for the Flight of the Conchords/Demitri Martin show, I watched as the girls behind us lit up a joint as thick as my thumb and smoked the whole thing down to the nubbins in fifteen minutes. No single “drug” moment struck me more than that. Had my college friends gotten their hands on a joint that fat, they would have taken two hits, stubbed it out, and pocketed it for another day—or at least a couple hours later. When we arrived at Bonnaroo, we saw cars pulled over and bags of pot the size of small pillowcases confiscated. Clearly it was mostly for show (and an instance of profiling in the extreme—our car was barely examined).
Only 46 arrests were recorded at Bonnaroo (and we saw one of them, an unruly man pinned down by no fewer than three security folks on the second day), so anything goes and anything for the most part goes unpunished at Bonnaroo.
People are definitely friendlier at Bonnaroo. The official Bonnaroo website encourages attendees to reach out to people, to make new friends, to ask questions. And that’s a fantastic thing. We didn’t make any lasting friends this year—partly because I’m such an introvert—but we did have some wonderful conversations.
Varying degrees of nudity is popular at Bonnaroo. And frankly, back when I was a wee 98 lbs, not so many years ago, I might have taken part. (And this depresses me a little; I like to think I’m of the “be-proud-of-your-body-type” feminist camp, but all the cute, wee young women in sarongs and duct-taped or body-painted nipples intimidated).
My one teeny concession to this atmosphere was that I let the girls fly free for a few days. It may not seem like such a big deal, but once upon a time there was probably a young Lou much like me who prayed very hard to Our Lady of Perpetual Endowment in hopes of being granted giant bazooms. Unfortunately, Our Lady must have been a bit distracted because I was granted said bazooms instead of that girl. Bazooms that have continued to expand even into my early thirties such that I can no longer buy OTC bras. (More likely these bazooms were a gift from my grandmother, who, after seeing me in a bathing suit when I was 12, said, “I’m so sorry. You inherited got my boobs. You’ll have grooves in your shoulders where your bra straps rub by the time you’re thirty.” She was off by 5 years.) Women are generally ingrained with the knowledge that big floppy breasts are not a sight to behold, but gravity (who is a “harsh mistress” *The Tick) has been relatively kind to me, and it felt like a million bucks to be fancy free for a couple of days.
Yeah, yeah. Lou’s a hippy.