Festival life

The bridge to the Island of freedom on opening day.


I’m nearing the end of the festival now. I can honestly say that I’m glad it’s almost over.  

While there were many things I enjoyed about the festival, the overall atmosphere is something I’m not comfortable with. There is very little mutual respect given among people, and when the sun goes down all decency evaporates. Something as simple as standing in a cue for a shower or adding money to the electronic payment system used at the festival becomes a passive agressive battle to hold position.  

The opening day provided a great opportunity to get pics of the island before it was literally covered in tents.

More troubling is that sexual assault is common and apparently acceptable. I was apalled when I was at one of the club stages one night and saw a “boy” walk up to a “girl” and grope her breast for a prolonged period of time. Her response? “Teach me.” 

I say “boy” and “girl” because a man wouldn’t do such a thing, and a woman wouldn’t respond that way. Some may say that she took control of the situation. I say she accepted being assaulted and continued to give power to the aggressor.  

Weird parade of dinosaurs and techno music. Pretty cool really. They were pedal powered and had full neck and jaw mobility. They also belched smoke… 

The next day that scene replyed in my mind many times and I really couldn’t believe that people act in such a way. It’s one thing to dance, talk a bit, and mutually agree to some form of sex, but I can’t understand straight up assault and then giving into it. 

Two days later I was assaulted.  I was just walking down the path through the crowd before a concert when a girl reached out and very firmly grabbed my testicles, as she continued on her way. I’m not sure I’ve ever been so shocked, angry, hurt and… invaded. I didn’t even have time to do anything other than bend over in pain and say a few curse words before she was gone into the crowd. 

I have never been a very forward person in terms of sexual advances, so I’m quite sure that I’ve never “assaulted” anyone. I now have a small idea how women must feel, becaude I’m sure it happens relatively often to many of them. I’m sad that anyome has to endure the invasion and sense of humiliation and powerlessness. 

I have never looked back on an instance and wished that I had hit a girl. But, I do this one. I wish I had knocked her straight into the dirt.

What I wish I did…

That ended my time at the festival. I was done being crowded. I was done dealing with the lack of decency.  I was done dealing with the general drunken bullshit. I did listen to a few more bands, but I stayed out of the fray and only arrived at the festival in time for what I wanted to see. 

I’m saddened that people take the “island of freedom” to mean that they are free to ignore mutual respect. I’m saddened by the way people act when in large crowds in general. Individuals are generally okay, but mobs and crowds change peoples behavior for the worse.

I feel bad that my entire festival experience is clouded by so few instances. The fact is that I had a lot of fun. I danced more than I probably ever have. I had moments of deeper thought in the “I Ching” labyrinth that made me really consider future choices. I had perspective widening experiences at: theater, circus, contemporary dance, classical music, opera and african dance events. There was also an incredibly moving and engrossing documentary regarding immigration from the immigrant’s perspective.  So many positive experiences overshadowed by a few experiences that really struck me to my marrow.

One of the thermal baths in Budapest

Parliament house. It is ridiculous…

Looking up the Danube. Pest to the right, Buda to the left.

Addendum: 8/24/16 

I probably won’t go to another festival, but I don’t regret going to Sziget. Budapest provided me with so many fun and interesting expereinces that the fact that I was uncomfortable for a small portion of it doesn’t matter in hind sight. Even just a short time removed I am constantly seeing posts on Facebook from people I met in Budapest and am reminded of the positive times much more often than the negative ones. 

The start of the climb to the citadel.


Published by: Andrew Monfort

I am a former engineer who decided to follow my dreams. After 9 years of working as a process engineer in the oil & gas production and refining industries, I decided to follow my passions (cycling and travel) to see where they lead.

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