Over the Easter Holidays, which seems like an eternity ago now, I went on a bit of an adventure. You may recall how I went away to Austria over Easter 2014 on an orchestral tour to Vienna, and it appears that music, Austria and long haul coach trips are now somewhat a tradition for me over the Easter break. However, this year I did not have my sheet music and violin in tow, but ski boots, goggles and a slight apprehension about what I had actually signed up for. This time I was off to Snowbombing Festival.
Snowbombing Festival is a dance music festival, in a little town called Mayrhofen sitting in the Austrian Alps – sounds quaint, sounds pretty tame to be quite frank. But it was anything but tame and quaint. Snowbombing was exhausting; Snowbombing was non-stop; Snowbombing was mental; which is probably why it is possibly the best 5+ days of your life. Although my repertoire of festivals was pretty limited, with Snowbombing actually being my first proper festival at the time, I feel it is safe to say Snowbombing is pretty unique for being one of the only festivals where you spend all night raving into the early hours and then get up a few hours later (if you even go to bed at all) to spend all day skiing, snowboarding, or just watching the world go by on top of a mountain. Add in the fact that I was working there and you can imagine how much sleep I got. It was a good night if I got 3 hours.
You might be wondering why I was working at a festival (but as most of you who read my blog are my mates you’re probably not and have heard all this before but I am going to carry on rubbing it in, I’m sorry). I basically applied to volunteer at the festival which entailed stewarding both the Road Trip and at the resort itself with cloakroom duties, wristband scanning and street patrol in my case. In return I gained a free wristband to the event itself, along with a free ski pass, hotel paid for and food paid for. Not a bad deal. The only thing that wasn’t actually paid for was drinks, although I did seem to spend a fair bit of money whilst I was away…
The Road Trip
To start my Snowbombing adventure off, I travelled to Kent to meet up with three other stewards and the team involved with the Snowbombing Road Trip which involved a massive cohort of cars that were decorated with the “Into the Wild” theme filled with hilariously dressed snowbombers. I will admit I was a bit nervous by the time I got to Kent and met with the people I would be working with at first – mainly because I’m 18 and totally uncool (I have a blog for crying out loud). I felt like I might not fit in at first, which feels really stupid now it is all over. But my nerves slowly dissipated as I got chatting to people, having a few drinks and then being thrown into action at 5am the next day, setting up for hundreds of excited customers to come barging through in zebra onesies asking for T-Shirts and stickers to put on their cars. So, you know, your normal Saturday morning really.
After the hectic morning, it was time to actually get on the road. In a beautiful splitter van, except for those who had to drive it, we begun our trek to Austria, with the bluetooth speakers blaring and the back jam packed with Road Trip related goodies ready to unpack. Most of this part of the road trip was pretty chilled out. The ferry from Dover involved a bit of a party, but we mainly just watched the customers do conga lines and dance. The most stressful part of this day was the fact that our van was pretty huge, and pretty full of stuff, meaning the heaviness of it slowed us down. The aim was for us to get to the stopover point in Luxembourg pretty handy to help set up for the evening events, but what with our slow van and also getting lost in Luxembourg city which is apparently a completely one-way, we were actually the last to arrive. Exhausted we got food, got beer, and headed to bed ready for a 4am start the next day.
The sunrise that morning was ridiculous. It made the early morning start completely worth it, and it felt like it was going to be a good day. We had set off hours before everyone else to try and beat them to the final stop so we could set up, we had music playing, sunglasses on, and we were driving happily through Germany. Until we ran out of fuel. Apparently German service stations are tricky to come by, and suddenly we were stopped on the side of German motorway with no fuel and all the main speakers for the event later that day. Oops. It seemed we were pretty screwed and for a good twenty minutes we were stood around slightly panicking and making awkward phone calls to our bosses. BUT as luck would have it (seriously, no idea what we would have done otherwise) one of our little Road Trip crew was half German and had German breakdown cover. 40 minutes later and we were back on the road, after having a dance in the back of the van first of course – although now we were running behind schedule again and the plan of getting there first didn’t quite work out. Wooooops.
But what is any Road Trip without breaking down in a foreign country? It has to be done. Luckily we got to Mayrhofen still in time to set up, with only a few of the Snowbombers there before us, and the views that we were surrounded by were so breathtaking it was hard to take notice of the fact we were a little late to arrive. The final part of the Road Trip included dancing, prizes and the best part of all, driving through the resort with music and horns blaring to show we had arrived, and we were ready for the festival. Snowbombing 2015 had begun.
I have never been a fan of snow. I know this makes me seem like the worst Russian student ever, but to me snow was always cold, slippery and as someone who lacks the general ability to walk in a straight line without tripping over, snow came with the connotation of pain. Regardless of this however, I couldn’t wait to go up to the mountains and have a go at skiing, especially as I am a fan of heights and the gondola lifts had been enticing me as soon as I had entered the resort. In fact, my whole opinion of snow has been completely reversed by this trip and I am really sad that I fell in love with it at the end of ski season and now have to wait a good few months to see it again.
Saying that, I was pretty crap at skiing. As I said before, the whole balancing thing really isn’t my forte so my grand idea of just whacking on a pair of skis and having go meant I fell over a lot and only went skiing for one afternoon. I think that was probably down to the fact I had no idea how to stop until a guy my friend and I had got chatting to at a bar showed me how, and even then I looked like a lummox. I know that sounds like a bit of a waste to only go skiing once, but I actually really enjoyed myself and I have caught the bug and I am definitely hoping to get some lessons ASAP, so watch out: Next year, the slopes and I are gonna be good pals, you just watch (no seriously, watch out, I’ll be the one screaming as I hurtle down a blue run).
I may have only spent one afternoon on skis, but I still spent many an afternoon on the mountains. Working night shifts meant I had the days to just take it easy with the other stewards, whether that was sat drinking mulled wine outside an igloo built for partying at the chilled out Ahorn area, or at the buzzing Penkenbahn watching someone dressed in a chicken costume wrestle willing participants. The weather was absolutely gorgeous, which just meant the whole vibe was addictive and hard to leave, meaning a few times waiting in the queue for the last gondola back down to the town.
Some of my favourite times on the mountains were near the reggae bar, where a few of the stewards sat and watched the world go by, with our cider and our sunglasses on. A few went off to board or ski from time to time, and a few of just stayed a soaked up the sun and the vibes, which was always much needed after the night before. The afternoons like that – just hanging with some really cool people on top of a mountain – were what made the whole time there for me and I can honestly say I’ve made some pretty fantastic mates from the trip (getting all sentimental up in here).
I think it is worth noting the food briefly too. If you are a vegetarian you will eat very little in Mayrhofen. If you are not a vegetarian you will eat an awful lot in Mayrhofen. Hans the Butcher is your main man, make sure you visit him regularly. And expect some weird soups and complimentary cake with your evening meals – although that might have just been a special treat for stewards, who knows.
Dance Music is great, but I knew near to nothing about it. I’ve always been a bit more of a rock and indie lover, so although I knew a lot of the music, I didn’t have a clue what was good and bad and all the different terms for it all. It was an “educational” experience going to Snowbombing I suppose you could say.
To become educated, I spent the nights dancing to the likes of Carl Cox, Andy C, Basement Jaxx and Fatboy Slim (I can’t name drop anyone else really because I truly don’t remember who I saw but I know I had fun). Even when I was working on my final night until 4am, I was working in the cloakroom of the largest club, so got to see Sigma which was pretty great. Now when I listen to dance music I can seem really cool and say I’ve seen loads of the artists, which is a definite benefit to going to a dance music festival for a nerd like me – seeming cooler than you really are.
All my shifts ran into the nights and/or the early hours, although I was always very lucky with my shifts and seemed to never have anything too horrific. The worst night was wristband scanning at two of the smaller clubs until 4am, but my friend and I got pizza once we had finished which made it feel all worth it.
I spent every night and every day with the stewards whether I was working with them or just partying with them, and it was so nice that they were all a bunch of down-to-earth, genuinely nice people. I’m doing it again. I’m getting all sentimental. But I truly can’t wait to see them all again later this year. Wait, what’s that you say, Rhiannon?
I am in a bit of new state-of-mind about planning my summer now. I am just saying yes to things, going with it, and not worrying. Straight after I got back from Snowbombing I applied to volunteer at some more festivals, and have worked at one of them, Common People, already. I feel like I will just take what is thrown at me and go with it. I used to be an over-thinker, but I think I am finally leaving that phase and not questioning things too much where I don’t need to. Perhaps it is a maturity thing. Probably just a pretentious gap year thing. My next two are Love Supreme and T in the Park, where I’ll get to see some of the people I met at Snowbombing again, which will be a nice little reunion. 3 more weeks of work left, and then the summer is mine. Who knows what I will end up signing up to next?