Going to a big techno festival for free! Sounds appealing even to people who don’t listen to that genre of music. I was one of those people.
A month ago, I received the news from a friend of mine, a Leisure and Events student, that a volunteer foundation called 'Revolution' is looking for people to volunteer at Elrow Town festival in Amsterdam. Elrow Town is an electronic music festival known for its vibrant colours, crazy costumes and Tech House music. Up to this point I have never been to an actual festival nor have I heard of Elrow Town before, therefore I had no idea what to expect. Luckily, a lot of my friends decided to join the festival as volunteers as well– most of them were a part of the 'Corona Check’ team, which is pretty self-explanatory. On the other hand, I applied blindly, because I wasn’t aware of the variety of possibilities you are provided with as a volunteer at festivals. A few days later, turns out I was accepted for the ‘Creative team’ consisting of a 12-hour shift from 11 am to 11 pm. The moment I figured out what I have applied for I was a bit sceptical and considered changing my shift for something else so that I could finish at the same time as my friends. Fortunately, I didn’t and decided to just follow my fate as a part of the ‘Creative team’ without having any expectations whatsoever.
Since I didn’t really have time to prepare for the festival, the morning trip to Amsterdam was a bit chaotic and rushed. I had to take two trains and a bus in order to get to the location of Elrow. I got ready on the bus and I hadn’t slept more than 5 hours the night before, you can imagine that I didn’t feel nor look my best that morning. Generally speaking, it wasn’t the most relaxing and enjoyable experience ever, but after an hour and a half or so, I ended up receiving my volunteer bracelet and a ‘Revolution foundation’ T-shirt and the eventful journey began.
The team leader brought me to one of the 3 stages where I had to follow my assigned tasks. Since it was still the start of the festival, there weren't a lot of people inside, however, the 3 stages were something I hadn't seen until this point in my life. Every stage had its own theme and vibe (there was an 'Ice Age' stage, an 'Ocean' stage and a central stage which was the biggest and most colourful one). At the start, I didn't get that much time to explore everything I wanted to, because I ended up backstage, where people were dressing up as different characters. Everyone was getting their costume and makeup done and I was super curious as to what kind of role these colourful, hippie-looking guys were supposed to play at the festival. To my surprise, my task as part of the Creative team of Elrow was to inflate huge balloons and all types of other inflatables and later on to throw them at the crowd. I did it with a friend of mine for a bit before it got busier and afterwards, we had all the time we needed to explore all stages and visitors of the festival. Very important to mention - there was food provided for full shift volunteers at the cafeteria and it is safe to say that It was one of my favourite places at the festival. I don't know if it was the delicious meals, the high infectious energy of everyone around me or the exciting conversations I had with people from all around the world, but it is safe to say I had the time of my life. The festival was full of colour, intriguing people and places. The beauty of Elrow are all the vivid colours and crazy decorations and what was even cooler is that everyone was dressed accordingly. I have to say I did feel a bit underdressed however I was so mesmerized by everything that was going on around me, that I didn’t have time to think about it. As part of my shift as a volunteer, as I mentioned previously, I got to go in front of the stage, dance, interact with the people on the first row and throw huge inflatables at them. I even got access to the actual stage, and I had the opportunity to experience the DJ's performances from up close.
During the festival I barely saw anyone from my friend group because there was no service and I was constantly moving around, talking to new people and dancing at all the stages. Everyone from Elrow and the actual festival itself had such a mesmerizing and high vibe that I genuinely enjoyed listening to techno music for the first time in my life. Since that day, I have been applying for volunteer jobs at dance festivals almost every weekend. It is safe to say that I am hooked!