17. England – “Show Me the Night That I Dreamed About Before”

The riskiest part of the music festival endeavor was shipping my £75 wristband to the hotel of another traveling friend. I hoped its arrival aligned with his two day stay, and that our paths would cross to complete the exchange. Birmingham, Oxford, London, Middlesex, Salisbury, Gillingham in Dorset, and finally Barnstaple.

Ever since I’d first heard the jaw-drop-inducing harmonies of the sisters who make up “The Staves” play in Denver, I had longed to see them perform live more. Naturally, this led to a cross country journey once I had embarked a quarter of the way across the world and found myself in England. Though my work application was well received, my lack of an EU passport meant I was disqualified from volunteering in exchange for my ticket. I was by no means deterred from finding my way to those festival grounds. With a heart full of enthusiasm and my mind filled with YouTube clips of Somersault, (in all it’s outdoor adventure, flower-child, heartfelt music glory), I bought the ticket and had it mailed to a hotel where I knew a fellow traveler would be staying.

Since I was staying with a different friend, I had prepared everything necessary for a weekend away at my soon to be campsite: tent, food, and an ungodly amount of wet wipes for the muddy bare feet I was bound to come home with each night… the only way to see The Staves was to attend the entire weekend, and I was thrilled for the new music and culture I would be exposed to for the following three days. From what I had seen on the many video blogs and slideshows, it was going to be an extraordinary experience. My mind had danced with the dream of using the weekend as a retreat of solitude with no cell phone reception, hours tucked away writing in my journal, and meeting new acquaintances at food trucks and trapeze workshops.

Waking up the morning of departure proved to be difficult. Cool breaths of wind oozed through the cracks of the window panes and seemed like frigid fingers clasping around my throat. Tears of the sky slipped down the glass, and not the inspiring kind. The day was dreary.

Apt to bouts of depression, the sudden shift in the weather had made me feel sick, if not merely weary. In the first moments of the day, I veered my planned course of attending the festival solo as if it were a deer in the headlights to avoid.

An intense fear overcame me, and I now dreaded an entire weekend away. When the time came to solidify my plan, I decided I would only go for the day, so as to make it worth the British lad’s time for driving me (though I was paying him gas and should have felt empowered to decline his offers to spend a few hours together). On top of it all, the over-friendly gentleman who had offered to drive me as a favor to my friend and host did not read or honor my firm displays of disinterest in any romance. This lead to an anxious two hour car ride for me as I attempted to remain composed and grateful, rather than annoyed and admitting I felt manipulated by his flirtatious and amorous conversation. But alas, under pressure and guilt, I accepted his offer to receive a tour of the surrounding areas rather than enjoy the fairgrounds for the entire day. We walked through English gardens and even stopped to drink a proper tea, but something in me was agitated all the day long.

As the concert drew closer, my chauffeur brought me to the entrance of the  I walked through the fair grounds, I saw various tents and felt a vibration of excitement and thrill and belief in possibilities rise up in me once more. Sadness stroked my cheek as the events began closing down for the night while concert goers flocked to the main stage. Hobbies of circus emphasis or body painting or forest dancing or bow and arrow targets… all said goodnight as flickering torches were put out while the dusk drew darkness up from behind itself like a blanket.

The Staves performing at Somersault Music Festival, 2015.

One month prior, I thought I would leave these grounds entirely differently. I had wanted to interview festival goers and write up a piece on Somersault. Instead, I had cowered at the insecurities from within my trembling soul. The memory is bittersweet for me now. I learned so very much. It taught me that I must fight for myself; that assertiveness should much more often be applauded that I was raised to believe.
I discovered how often we defeat ourselves before putting ourselves in the arena; our greatest opponent can often be our own inner voice.
I began to speak to myself in an uplifting and encouraging manner, and surround myself with individuals who remind me I am capable of achieving things I set my mind to.

So, although my write up is late, I can say with utmost sincerity, the Somersault Music Festival in England’s stunning countryside is an electrifying and uniting musical and exploratory excursion, and one that should not be missed.
P.S. remember your rain boots.

Read more about Thirty by Thirty here

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