This is our second year at Bonnaroo music festival, created in the disastrous wake of the Woodstock revival. There are a wide range of people who attend these festivals. Andrew and me are psychotic about some of these bands and we get to the venues hours in advance, in the blistering sun, to get a decent spot.
We watch the music, eat the vegetarian cuisine, but mostly we watch people. It is in one of these great people-watching moments that I realize that I can spot a real hippie: when they dance, fake hippies thrust and real hippies wiggle.
The false hippies are kids from upper-middle class upbringings who used their parents' SUVs to navigate the Bonnaroo farm. They follow The Dave Matthew's Band and buy chocolate-coated mushrooms from the real hippies. It's hard to spot the difference initially because fake hippies dress like the authentic ones.
They don't wear shoes and the girls often let strangers paint pictures on their breasts. The guys wear beads and brightly colored Bob Marley-esque caps but at the end of the day, when all the shows are over, they go back to the campground and make S'Mores and shoot Jagermeister.
The real hippie, or updated version of the hippie, wears no shoes. They spend an entire summer living at these festivals, selling tie-died skirts, bumper stickers and drugs. They often have several naked children in tow and are rarely seen without dreadlocks. These people fit in so well during the summer festivals; it is hard to image what they do in Vermont in the winter. Do they work? Do they drive?
How do they fill out their tax forms? When the women walk, they jingle. I always look for the source of the sound, but I've never seen any bells. Real hippies are happy; happy living haphazardly, selling illegal drugs to rich kids, eating green beans out of a can. I think that they're even all right with the fact that the "movement" is over: Hendrix, Joplin, Morrison, and Garcia are all dead. Trey Anastasio left Phish and these hippies are still thriving. And I'm sitting on a blanket so I don't get grass stains on my khaki shorts, watching the graceful movements of the hippies in their natural environment, the swaying, the twirling, and I wish only for a nanosecond that I was wiggling up there with them.
about the author
Hillary Boles is an English education major, meaning that she might, one day,
teach English to high schoolers. She's supposedly graduating next May, but
since she's been in college 8 years now, she's not holding her breath. She's
looking at graduate programs in Creative Writing so she doesn't have to go out
into the real world yet, and so that she can keep deferring her student loans.
She's also a bartender.