Bonnaroo 2012: The Year Of Things I Haven’t Done Yet

Yahoooooo it’s time to go to Tennessee and trounce around a farm for four days! Five, actually. Hi! We’re going to Bonnaroo 2012 June 7-10! Who’s we? Well it’s me and my plucky little mohawked girlfriend, Megan. She’s never been to Bonnaroo before — actually, she’s never been east of Colorado — so we’re all very excited. This year’s headliners include Radiohead, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Beach Boys, Phish and Bon Iver, but we’ll talk about the bands later. Right now let’s talk about me.

I kept thinking, “What can I possibly say about Bonnaroo that hasn’t already been said?” Because I love it, of course, and I think you weirdos would love it, but what if there was nothing else to really say? That would be a problem because saying stuff about Bonnaroo is like, the point. It’s the reason I go. But I really don’t want to write about Bonnaroo! I just want to be there and I want you to come with me and hang out and eat samosas, make some memories together, you know? Just be. Because there’s so much being to be done on the farm!

god i miss sarah p-lmer

My first year at Bonnaroo was a frantic confusing jumble of heat, maps, music, camera equipment and heat. Also heat. I remember it in bits and pieces. I remember agreeing to climb onto Alan Palomo’s shoulders, only to have a security guard tell us that it wasn’t necessarily a good idea or even allowed, and trying to get Romy Madley Croft to notice/want me, and getting lost a lot. I remember melting into a crowd of about 100,000 while Jay-Z rapped about being young forever. I remember forgetting what it was like to live in civilization.

The second year was when I thought I knew what I was doing. I packed better, and less. I watched Hesta Prynn dance in cut-offs/make my dreams come true. I let my heart tumble out onto the grass during Arcade Fire. Sarah and I explored the world behind the media compound and main stage, and watched flickering blinky lights float to earth on the other side of the chain fence, too far away to grab one. I was jealous for a second until I just gave in and fell in love with all of the people I couldn’t be.

I usually just gloss over the times when I couldn’t move, or when I cried because I didn’t want another sweaty naked shoulder to touch mine.

But while I was recounting my tales to Megan in an effort to get her really excited and prepared for the festival, she had other questions. What was the Art Academy like? How does the Silent Disco work? Did people take yoga mats or towels? How do you get into the Comedy Tent? Why on earth had I left early on Sunday both years? WAIT THERE’S AN INFLATABLE WATER SLIDE??!

And that’s when I realized, you guys, that even though I thought I’d learned so much from the first year — not to pack a ton of food, that it wasn’t really just about the music, prints not solids, etc. — I’d still been missing out on so many things! Voluntarily! So obviously I had my answer re: what to write about. In addition to just chilling out and loving life, this year I’ll be doing (almost) everything I haven’t done yet, which will probably be a lot like going to Bonnaroo for the first time, which is to say that this year is going to KICK ASS.

 All The Things I Haven’t Done Yet


1. Ferris Wheel

via nowpublic

The line at the ferris wheel pales only in comparison to the line at the entrance of Centeroo. It’s covered in trippy lights and apparently runs nonstop all weekend. We have mixed feelings about this one.

Megan: I would much rather go sky diving than go on a ferris wheel.
Laneia: Sky diving isn’t an option though. I’ll probably just fall out of it. It’ll be like that guy in The Notebook.
Megan: I don’t know why we have to do something that we both don’t want to do.
Laneia: That’s the point!
Megan: Let’s go walk into a fly net! Because that’s just what people do at Bonnaroo!
Laneia: I don’t even know what a fly net is.


2. Comedy Tent

via you ain't no picasso

There’s air conditioning! And funny people. Aziz Ansari, Reggie Watts, Amy Schumer, Ali Wong and a large selection of white men, like Brian Posehn, will all be there. There is the issue of securing a ticket in advance, so we’ll see how this goes. Also Ali Wong is really hot.


3. Cinema

via nowpublic

Again with the long lines. And it’s like, 80 miles over at the edge of Centeroo. But this year there’ll be an advanced screening of Beasts Of The Southern Wild, which looks fucking amazing, and! And! Autostraddle’s favorite, tUnE-yArDs, along with Ava Mendoza, will be performing a live score to Buster Keaton shorts!


4. Silent Disco

via the tennessean

Ugh I feel really self-conscious about dancing and so does Megan (we are potatoes), but Bonnaroo is not the place to indulge self-consciousness, so FUCK THAT. I’m putting on some headphones and pretending I look this way on purpose. K Flay has a set on Thursday at 9:30 and Friday at 4:00!


5. Salon by Garnier Fructis

via the tennessean

I was always put off by the lines, again. But it’s a free hair wash! By probably really attractive women! In air conditioning! Free samples! Doin’ it.


6. Walking Around to Other Campsites


The ‘walking’ part is the only deterrent here, and honestly it had never even occurred to me that I should visit other sides of the farm, but I bet I could meet some neat people and pick up a few ideas for next year’s tent. Also how else will I ever find the real Shakedown Street?


7. The Real Shakedown Street

this is not the real shakedown street via

The stuff of legends. Usually I don’t give a shit about legends, but this feels important. Basically it’s a row of unauthorized vendors — the weirdest/best of all the weirdos — selling things like $1 grilled cheeses, handmade clothes, glass and other random wares. Because it’s unauthorized and probably riddled with illegal substances of every persuasion, this festival mainstay is set up in a new place each year. There are other rows of vendors throughout the farm, but they’re not The Shakedown Street. You see why this is important. Apparently it’s a sketchy place after dark, so this is a daytime-type bear hunt.

Is this even a real thing?? I don’t know! That’s why it’s called a legend.


8. Planet Roo


Lots of stuff going on at Planet Roo, which is a space I don’t even think I’ve seen. Is there collaging? Straw hut-making? Screen-printing? I don’t know! Probably! Maybe I’ll learn something new. Maybe I will draw a pony or sign up for the Peace Corps.


9. Post Office

via termini design build

Also at Planet Roo! Bonnaroo has its own postmark for crying out loud. Skipping the post office is always one of my biggest regrets.


10. Big Ass Water Slide


I can’t swim, so this seems much safer than diving into a river via rope swing, and maybe not as crowded as a water park, so sure, I’ll go on the water slide.


11. Breast Painting Booth

via westvletern12 on flickr

Even though part of me really does want to be topless in public, I still don’t think I can do this. Like, maybe if it was an all-girl breast painting troupe, and it was conducted inside a silk-lined tent, with parrots and grapes and iced coffee — maybe then I’d go for it.


12. Yoga

via ben keller on flickr

This is right up there with the post office in terms of regrets. I have anxieties about doing yoga in public spaces (I realize this stands in contrast to the aforementioned desire to be topless, but that’s because humans are complex creatures), so I usually just chicken out. LOSER. Not being a loser this year. Not chickening out.


13. Clean Vibes Trading Post & Clothing Drive


Clean Vibes is an incentive program that involves turning in large bags of recyclables or used clothing, and receiving points that can be used to get neat things, like probably frisbees and hacky sacks. I always do my part by collecting the trash and recyclables from our camp, but I’ve never actually gone to the trouble of turning them in for prizes. I love prizes! What the hell’s wrong with me?


14. Centeroo Fountain

via joe gall on flickr

So there’s this fountain, right? And it’s big and water’s everywhere. And it’s crawling with people. And the first year I went, someone told me a horror story about the water not being cleaned or something, so I’ve been terrified of it ever since. Well no more! No more will I live in fear of the fountain at Centeroo!

But if I come back with some sort of waterborne disease, I’m gonna be pretty upset.


15. Meeting YOU!

We’ve made some half-hearted efforts to organize meetings with AS readers at Bonnaroo, but between the crammed schedule and the fact that I’m a total dork, it just never has worked out. This year’s different!

We’ll be at Broo’ers Village around 4:30 on Friday — that’s after Two Door Cinema Club and before the Avett Brothers. Let the spirit of A-Camp inspire you and just show up! You don’t need to worry about being too something or not enough anything — I’d just really like to say hi! We’re gonna get some drinks and foods, so it’s a pretty low-key situation. Bring some spray paint for Centeroo wall art (we’ll have stencils). If you’d like to suggest a different time or just want to unofficially RSVP, let me know in the comments!

Have you managed to make it to any of the things on the list? You should tell me about them! Are you going to Bonnaroo this year? ARE YOU SO EXCITED?? Or if you want, we can talk about your favorite festival foods. How do you feel about alligator tail?

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  1. i’m not going to bonnaroo but i did just buy my ticket for all good last night and I AM SO EXCITED! MUSIC FESTIVAL FEELINGS!!!

  2. So pumped for Bonnaroo! Will be my 1st time so naturally I’m packing for the apocalypse. Thanks for this article, I probably would have missed some of these distractions otherwise. Big waterslide, who knew?

    • yay i hope to see you there! make sure you drink more water than you think is humanly possible. that is my best advice.

      • Meet-up is a great idea, but my crew isn’t arriving until late afternoon-ish on Friday. How about a Saturday event for the late comers?

  3. I share a lot of your anxieties about many of these activities… but even though ferris wheels do scare me a bit, those cliches are all true because they are super romantic in the evenings. I’m sure you two will have a great time! ;)

  4. My girlfriend and I are going!! It’s our 3rd year. So much excitement for this epic waterslide!! And if I’d known the comedy tent was air conditioned I definitely would have made sure to spend some time in there.

  5. After reading this, my desire to someday attend Bonnaroo has reached a new level. Shakedown Street? Centeroo Fountain? Silent Disco?? I can’t wait for the recap of what’s sure to be an amazing weekend!

  6. My trip officially begins on Monday morning and I couldn’t be more excited. I like to think about it as my journey to finally meeting St. Vincent, my love. :)

  7. Centeroo Fountain is definitely a day 1 activity. The water was brown by the second day when I went. I miss being able to scream “BONNNNAROOOOO!” without getting weird looks. I can’t wait to read the recap!

  8. I’m one of those people who seems like I should really like music festivals but I’m generally turned-off by most of them. Except Bonnaroo. I feel like I would really love Bonnaroo.

  9. I get to add AS Meet-up between Laura Marling and Little Dragon :) Friday was pretty much the best day on my schedule and now it is a sure thing:)I saw the waterslide from the ferris wheel last year and it seemed pretty epic. There is safety in numbers on shakedown…actually it was pretty chill until I watched a lady with painted you know whats punch a horse in the face and then get strapped to a board and taken to the medical tent (acid isn’t a joke).Of course that was 2008 and I hear things have changed. I’ve done yoga at Roo, and it was really fun and I’m not even really good at yoga. I think I might stop by the post office now that I know it exists, and I might scope out the fountain after Phantogram on Thursday because I too have been scarred by the idea of brown water. I live on the second floor so I have been driving around with all the camp gear in my car for a few days now! I’m very very excited!

      • Yes this woman was her own above the influence commercial. We went to shakedown for the adventure, and settled for dollar grilled cheese and herbal tea because we were scared straight.

        Every year I say I will silent disco and then I don’t, but maybe if I play my cards right I will make it. I fell asleep during Zach Braff at the Cinema Tent last year, so I am thinking that I’ll give the comedy tent a go. My hypothesis is laughter will keep me interested, and maybe the fresh air minus Z. Braff’s ego.

        I’d really like to try the festival food this year. Last year we ate garden burgers for breakfast, cereal bars, oranges, and chips lots of chips. Is it real Alligator Tail?

  10. I’ve never had enough patience to stand in line and get my hair washed at the salon. I have, however, snagged a bunch of free garnier samples and washed my hair in the Centeroo fountain, so I guess I’m part of the problem.

    Unfortunately I will be missing Bonnaroo this year, due to being broke as hell and not having a babysitter. All you folks who get to go: eat a mozzadilla for me!

    • i’ve never even had a mozzadilla! and it’s one of the main things everyone talks about. do you have a picture of the stand? the row of food vendors is super overstimulating and i usually ended up just following sarah and ordering whatever the person in front of us ordered.

    • I had no idea this was even a thing, but it sounds magically delicious!! I will definitely be eating one or several at bonnaroo.

  11. This list! I’ve done five of these! I think the rest were too expensive or had really long lines or, I debated but didn’t follow through (silent disco/body painting).

    Shakedown Street IS both awesome and totally sketchy. I didn’t go during the day, so I only experienced the surreal rave maze of tapestries and speakers and everybody on drugs part. I guess it’s relevant that a random girl made out with me here when I gave her water and asked her if she was okay.

    The yoga was so good! They were giving out free yoga mats and coconut water the day I went. It was really hot, maybe hot yoga kind of hot? I just felt like it was the best thing I’d ever done.

    I’m so sad I’m not going this year!

    • oh god so totally TOTALLY doing yoga this time. i heard about the free coconut water last year and wanted to kick myself.

  12. Hello sweet angel. I need you to tell me why you are afraid of doing yoga in public. Then I will help you through it.

    I’m a (nearly!) certified instructor and I think public yoga is one of the most freeing and centering things you can do. I wish I were going to Roo this year and then I could just make you go with me…alas I am broke and not going, so seriously I can help you through the anxieties if ya want! What about it gets ya all up in a tizzy?

    • i think it’s the bending over in front of strangers. like in that picture of the two girls up there, there’s a dude in the background just sorta staring? that would drive me crazy. i think the workaround is that i’ll just make sure i get in the middle somewhere.

      • Yeah. That actually used to stress me out when I first started yoga – it was a class of people who were interested and then the football players at my college who were required to do yoga or dance as “strength training.” So my ass was the center of attention between two creepy, beefy dudes. I feel ya.

        I do have to say that something that majorly helped me was my clothing choices. I understand Bonnaroo is hot as balls but if you were to do a tight, dark tank with some form of a looser one over the top and pants that gave you the amount of comfort you’re looking for while in down dog, you’ll be fine. Wear full coverage undies, too! I learned my lesson – I didn’t know I had ripped leggings one day. Hope the dudes next to me enjoyed that view.

        :) good luck. I heart me some yoga and am majorly jealous of you getting to do it with hot, sweaty ladies. Especially whilst with your lady. Ugh. Sounds perfect to me.

  13. This is a comment about Megan:
    We meet at A-Camp during the now infamous sewing circle. She glances at my name tag. Asks my middle name. Immediately says, “So, can I call you A.C.? Because that’s really cool.” I enthusiastically agreed. We never spoke again but it was a strange, amazing moment (much like most of camp).
    So you guys should meet up at Bonnaroo. Laneia and Megan are neat.

  14. My friend Hannah and I are going and would love to meet up! We were actually geeking out a little over it earlier. haha.

  15. I am so stoked for Bonnaroo! Like everything about it, even the roadtrip there. Everything will be made of win. I will try to make it to the meet up on friday if I can get the girl I’m going with to come, or I might just ditch her. We’ll see. !

  16. i’d like to repeat my request to laneia that if anyone sees my little brother (6’4″, blue eyes, some sort of facial hair situation) they should say hi and also suggest to him that he take only minimal amounts of whatever drugs he and his friends have. thank you!

  17. i admit that i have done the breast painting booth (which in 2008 was staffed by 100% rednecks on LSD) and the Garnier Fructis salon

  18. Jesus, this somehow made me really want to go to Bonnaroo next year even though I don’t do drugs or enjoy crowds or dance or do anything really that anyone else thinks is fun.

  19. Hey girl… I would join your all-girl breast painting troupe inside a silk-lined tent any day.

  20. I will be joining you in these festivities ‘roo friend. Food: Spinach and artichoke nachos at the what stage. I’ve gotten them at least two times a day for the past two years. This year I’m stepping out of my box. Comedy Tent: I cried when I missed The League last year and I will not let this happen again. In 2010 we watched Jeffery Ross roast bonnaroo and it was one of my top five memories. Plus you’re in a climate controlled building right at 2/3 which is priceless. Check out the weather for Manchester. We may be in for a treat. Looks like the highs are mid 80’s! sweet. let’s do this.

  21. this post really makes me want to do Bonnaroo next year, although it is only 2 weeks after my heart’s favorite big music festival, Summer Camp in Illinois.

  22. Sadly, this article just deepens my feelings that I would probably have a nervous breakdown at a festival. I think I would just be totally overwhelmed by the chaos. But I will always love to hear about other people’s experiences at them!

  23. hey ladies! be sure to check out the food truck rodeo, where I’ll be slinging gourmet sandwiches part of the time…we are Pot Kettle Black and delicious. last year we were perfectly sandwiched between the Big Ass Waterslide and the lesbian food truck from Asheville – Eat My Box. and while i’m totally looking forward to checking out the above-mentioned places, i will say that the Broo’ers tent is badass and a lovely reprieve from cheapass beer…looking forward to meeting some of you. rock on with yer bad selves!

    • Yeah!! Everyone should check out the Broo’ers tent. I’ll be there representing Schlafly.. come find me. I love good music, good food and good people. lets dance already!

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