By Danealle Khaimskiy
Daily Herald Correspondent
Grab the LED shoes, clear fanny packs and body glitter — festival season has officially hit.
And the Spring Awakening Music Festival will draw thousands of EDM fans Friday through Sunday, June 7-9, to its new location in Hoffman Estates to catch more than 60 DJs.
Whether you’re a seasoned pro who needs a small reminder or a newbie to the electronic dance music scene, here are 10 insider tips to help you make the most of any SAMF 2019 experience.
1. Bring sun protection.
SAMF is entirely outdoors and, according to the website, will continue “rain or shine.” That means there is a possibility of spending several hours baking under the hot sun.
Buffalo Grove resident and three-year SAMF attendee Daniel Kabavok said everyone should bring sunscreen. Just make sure it is the factory-sealed old-fashioned kind, as aerosols aren’t allowed inside the festival. Bonus points if it’s sweat-proof.
2. Dress for success.
Though showing up dressed as an Insta-baddie in heels and latex might be tempting, SAMF attendee and Orland Park resident Lisa Stemmons recommends dressing practically.
“Function over fashion,” Stemmons said. “You’re there all day and need good, closed-toe shoes.”
As the adage goes, “If you don’t like the weather in Chicago; wait five minutes.” So while you’re heading out in your most James Charles-inspired looks, don’t forget to pack a rain poncho.
One more thing: Keep festival attire free of cultural appropriation. This year’s SAMF rules even state Native American headdresses are banned.
3. Stay hydrated and take breaks.
With five stages, there is a lot of music to take in at Spring Awakening. Just as the DJs break between sets, fans should take a reprieve, too.
“If it’s a hot day, try and find some shade to relax in,” Stemmons said.
While cooling off, stop by the hydration station and refill on water. SAMF rules allow attendees to bring one, factory-sealed bottle of water and an empty refillable water bottle.
Outside food isn’t allowed on festival grounds, but attendees can buy sustenance on “vendor row.”
4. Charge it.
Remember those portable phone chargers mom and dad would bring home from conferences? Bring several. Though the EDM festival offers charging stations, having your own helps if you don’t want to fight the crowds.
Attendees will need their phones to access the SAMF mobile application, which will offer updates and schedules. Plus, you’ll want to capture memories of the day and find friends who have wandered off.
5. Use the buddy system.
Mundelein resident Julie Zelaya, 24, has raved it up at SAMF with her sister and friends since she was 18.
“Try and stay as close to your group as possible,” Zelaya said. “You don’t want to spend time having to find each other.”
The festival stretches across 27 acres and is expected to draw in more than 25,000 EDM fans. Separation from the group seems almost inevitable, but no need to panic. Kabakov said it’s important to pick a designated meetup location and time that everyone needs to be at no matter what.
6. Think hugs, not drugs.
SAMF has a zero-tolerance policy for all drugs and drug paraphernalia. According to the website, “narcotics officers” will be stationed at the entry gates and throughout the festival grounds to make sure festivalgoers are safe.
For those of legal drinking age and with a valid ID, 21+ wristbands will be available on site. These have to be shown when purchasing alcoholic drinks from festival vendors.
7. Go with the flow.
SAMF is three days long, running from 1 to 10 p.m. That’s about 27 hours of bass drops to enjoy. Making it to the top DJs on your list will require some planning, but there is something to be said for going with the flow.
“Don’t try to plan your day (too much),” Kabakov said. “You will be going all over the place and (the day) will rarely go as planned.”
8. Let Instagram wait.
After spending weeks planning an outfit, it’s only natural to want to capture it for posterity’s sake. However, with the cheapest ticket costing $100 once you add on fees, don’t focus on your Instagram feed more than the shows themselves.
“Enjoy the moment,” Stemmons said. “Get off your phone and don’t record the DJs. Just enjoy the light shows and music.”
Everyone knows the person with the hourslong Snapchat and Instagram stories. Everyone has complained about that person in the past.
Don’t be that person.
9. Do your homework.
Festival expert or novice, everyone should do their research as each music festival has its own rules and regulations. SAMF 2019 prohibits pacifiers and LED gloves, but does allow (soft) poi toys and hula hoops.
Those traveling in from out of town can book a room at one of the 17 hotels SAMF recommends on its website.
10. Find a way home.
It’s that time of the night — the DJs have played their last songs and it’s time to head home. There is a designated Uber/Lyft/taxi pickup location if you go that route. Shuttles will also drop off concertgoers at the Blue Line and Metra stops. General and preferred parking spots are available for $20 and $35 a day respectively; or visitors can buy weekend parking for $50 and $95. Get details at springawakeningmusicfestival.com.
At the end of the day, it isn’t about the outfits, pictures or neurotic planning — it’s about enjoying your favorite artists and much-deserved summer weather with close friends. As Yellow Claw’s 2018 hit said, “DJ, turn it up.”
• • •
Spring Awakening Music Festival
When: 1 to 10 p.m. Friday through Sunday, June 7-9
Where: Poplar Creek, 5523 Prairie Stone Pkwy., Hoffman Estates
Tickets: Remaining passes start at $79 before fees, but there are a number of choices available. Check the website for details.
Parking: Starts at $20 per day, with weekend and preferred parking options available.
Shuttles: Free shuttles will run from nearby Metra stops and the CTA Blue Line Rosemont stop.
Details: You must be 18 and have a government-issued ID to enter. For rules, see springawakeningmusicfestival.com.