Arriving at a festival is always an exciting experience. You’ve just found a decent parking and start jovially making your way inside to engage in your first mission for the day: embrace the crowd on the dancefloor with reckless abandon.
But first thing’s first: booze. Whether it's just to refresh yourself or to chase last night’s hangover, it’s one thing most party goers can’t do without. So you gather all your mates and head to the bar to get a “quick” drink before the fun.
But after waiting in line for 15 minutes, you’re now stuck with a dilemma—to miss a chunk of the next DJ's set waiting in the godforsaken line, or continue to fight your way through the barrage of eager punters for an ice cold beverage.
You decide to stick it out, as “there are always other DJs to catch.” And now you’ve just missed your favourite track. Frustrating, but you’ve already come this far, finally sliding to front of the line, cash in hand, wearing your best fake smile and brimming with confidence. It’s been a tough journey, but at least you’ve finally made it, right?
You have not.
For some reason, amongst the hundreds of punters waiting for a drink, there’s only one lonely server hurriedly losing their minds trying to serve everyone—if you’re lucky. Cool, no worries, “I’m sure he’ll get around to me soon,” you think. He’s now zooming past you every minute and for some reason never stops to even look you in the eye, presumably because your tee-shirt is a particular hue of tangerine that his color blind eyes just can’t seem to recognise.
Patience is running out and you look back to see your friends waiting for you, dancing to the music and shouting reminders that you’re missing the whole party (I’ve gathered that, thanks). After 20 minutes another barman comes to you and finally takes your order. He’s just finished his smoke break and has now decided to bless you with his presence. Hurriedly you order as many drinks as you can carry, push your way out of the hordes and you’re free!
Dancing and finally getting the experience you paid for, you realise your cup is now somehow empty. Half-heartedly pondering another possible thirst quencher, you look back and see an even larger queue… It’s going to be a very long night.
Admittedly, pulling off a major festival is a herculean task. Putting together the stages, lineups and infrastructure, hiring all the bar staff, security and cleaners, there’s always room for error. But with so much profit coming from the bar, surely making sure the bar staff can meet the requirements of the thousands of thirsty people would be one of your main priorities?
The bar, as much as the rest of the production, is a service you are providing to your audience, and the same attention to detail should be used when it comes to keeping the masses hydrated. Not only is it the only way to keep cool in the heat, it also keeps the vibe flowing and helps people on their way to having the best experience of their life. Not to mention that long lines can actively discourage thirsty punters from drinking as much water as needed. That's dangerous.
Bad bar service is always a popular festival complaint. But it’s usually not actually the server’s faults. Most of the time the organisers simply haven’t allowed for the large volume of party-goers with extra staff ready and eager to take your order. By merely hiring more staff to cover the bars, and also constantly assessing which bars are struggling, you can cut out these dreary moments for your customers. Which, I can guarantee, will make for a better experience for all.
As a bar manager, these decisions need to be addressed, and a “slow” bar is a problem needs to be fixed. This is your responsibility and a job that can prove to be extremely important in the overall feedback of the festival.
Look, we’re all just trying to have a good time with the hard-earned money we’ve spent to come to your party. But waiting in a bar line for around an hour—the length of one short set—is definitely not what we’ve paid for.
All that being said, thank you to the promoters who do acknowledge the importance of the bar-visiting ritual. Those who are actively involved with the experience for the punters are the ones who understand how these small changes can make a big difference for all. Cheers!