Putting Our Foot Down On An Offensive Festival Trend
As with many times during the magical journey of Electric Forest, I had to stop and take a look around, truly absorbing the energies around me. However, while in the midst of the frenzy at the legendary festival in Rothbury, MI, I had to ask a few questions which remained unanswered until now. Something very blatant stood out. There were a ton of people, both men and women, wearing feather headdresses. This seemed extremely odd to me. As far as I knew, Native American garments such as these ceremonial headdresses were only used during special occasions. So why were all these people among the festival madness wearing them? I asked:
“Is today some sort of holiday?”
“Does this pertain to some band I’m not aware of?”
“Is someone selling these at their camp site?”
“Is it because it’s Sunday?”
“Isn’t that kind of offensive?”
So many questions, and all I received were blank stares. Of course it was in fact Sunday (the final day of the festival) so maybe people were too worn out to form sentences, but it still very much confused me. To be honest, following the festival, I didn’t think too much about the booming number of feather headdresses, until I found out Bass Coast Festival in British Columbia was planning on completely banning them from the festival grounds. It might seem wild that a festival is telling people what to wear, but in reality, if we all take a step back and think about why this could be, we might kick ourselves for not seeing the obvious before. Such a symbolic and ceremonial piece of clothing should not be taken for granted in festival culture, or any other culture that does not receive it as the sacred garment that it is. My list of questions was finally answered. No, it wasn’t a holiday. No, there wasn’t some band out there wearing these as a stage act. Sure, maybe someone was selling them, but the day of the week didn’t matter and it is absolutely offensive. Maybe offensive is the wrong word here; maybe it is something that just gives me an uneasy feeling. It reminds me of that little twinge in your side one may feel after accidentally cursing in front of the elderly. The day a festival attendee puts on a mitre to party, is a day that person might regret if he ran into the wrong people. This is simply a silly fashion fad, and it should be given more thought before being embraced in a party setting.
Of course these headdresses are stunning in terms of beauty and meaning, but these gorgeous symbols are not for high fashion. Bass Coast falls on sacred grounds, and donning these headdresses at the festival would be the ultimate kick in the face. If you are one of those people who thinks these accessories are gorgeous, don’t get me wrong – I completely agree. This time however, let’s leave them for those who truly appreciate their meaning beyond the aesthetics.