October 28, 2015 | by Maryam Hassan

What do you get when you put 10,000 punks in a city and feed them PBR and pizza for three days? Fest! Also a hell of a lot of people getting their mack on.

Ah Fest, the start of so many ill-conceived romances and dirty hook-ups in stairwells. I’m not one to judge here, as I have far too many silly, slightly regrettable Fest hook-up stories of my own. One year I didn’t watch any bands past 9 p.m. on Sunday due to men being distracting. Last year saw the emergence of Tinder, and the Fest hook-up game suddenly got a hell of a lot more complex. Don’t fret, it’s okay everyone, my name is Maryam Hassan, I run a dating blog called How To Date Punk, and I am here to guide you through the circus that is Hooking Up At Fest.

Before we begin, let me state that you do not do anything to anyone unless you have consent. DO NOT EVER assume anyone wants to make out with you. We go to Fest to have a great time and we have a great time because it’s such an awesome place where everyone feels equal and safe.

Let’s start with the obvious, stay safe. I know we’re not kids, but it never hurts to remind you to have condoms or remember to take your pill. Fest isn’t one big orgy, but I know as well as anyone that you can escape back to hotel rooms very easily. We once had a ban on sex in our room and two of us still managed to have sex in it, so just think about what you’re doing and protect yourself.

You are very unlikely to meet your soulmate at Fest. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen, but you should approach most interactions as one-off. Fest is like this awesome bubble, where you connect with loads of people because you are all stoked to see your favourite bands play, but no amount of holding hands during The Hotelier will change the fact that this is a one-off. This is great on many levels, it means you don’t have to worry about that person later on which also means no overthinking. Move on to the next person, move on to no person, go watch a band and continue having fun, the choice is yours!

Tinder. Oh Tinder. The best hook-up app of them all. At Fest you will match with absolutely everyone, and if you’re like me and bearded dudes with American accents are your weakness you will probably right swipe on everyone too. Things to keep in mind when using Tinder at Fest, firstly you may not meet up with everyone you start to talk to, secondly you all may or may not have hooked up with more than one person that day. I feel like I’m assuming everyone is more out to kiss face than watch bands, but it really is amazing what you can achieve between sets, between food and in dark corners of venues. Don’t be mean to anyone on Tinder, don’t catfish people, don’t lead anyone on. No one likes a bully. If you’re going to meet people this way have manners and don’t expect it to lead to sex, or kissing, or anything past a high five. Tinder can also be used to find people watching the same bands with you and to just hang out! Remember that!

No one likes kiss and tell. This might just be something that’s personal to me but I hate it when people talk about anything to do with me and my sex life behind my back. I’m not saying I’m innocent of always being good and never saying anything, but over the last couple of years at least I’ve been really good at keeping quiet. Have respect for the people you make out with and don’t go broadcasting it about, because at the end of the day it’s private. Even if you don’t see that person again for the rest of Fest, people talk and you don’t want to start rumours, so keep all opinions, negative or positive, to yourself and don’t be a dick. If you do have to talk about your hook-ups then at least leave out names, you don’t know if the other person wants to be discussed or shown off (I’ll give you a spoiler here—they probably don’t).

Don’t let any guy or girl get you down over the weekend. This is connected to remembering everything is probably just a one-off. If the other person sees you and ignores you or is weird for the rest of the weekend after your hook-up try not to let that ruin things for you. There are so many great things going on and to ruin your weekend over anyone who clearly doesn’t deserve the time or effort would be such a shame. If anyone acts strange with you be glad you probably won’t have to see them ever again, and that there are literally thousands of other people you can talk to all weekend instead. Find your friends, make new friends, and forget anyone who makes you feel anything but amazing about yourself.

I realise I’ve made Fest sound like a sea of hormones here, it is and it isn’t that. But it is so easy to start up conversations with people and just make friends. As someone who spends most of her time at Fest working I’m generally by myself. The fact people are generally friendly and in a good mood is great for that, because it means I’ll always have people to talk to. Fest is a fantastic place to make friends, that’s the thing to remember. I’ve made friends over the weekend that have gone on to be some of the best people I know now, and the friendships you make seem to be stronger than the fleeting hook-up connections. So my best advice? Don’t go into Fest aiming to hook up. Go aiming to make friends, watch bands and have the best weekend you can for yourself. Take the hooking up as a nice side aspect of the weekend.