Lollapalooza 2017: Thriving in VIP

Lollapalooza was my first ever music festival last year, and it was amazing. It was also amazing because I received a free four-day pass as a participant in ThinkChicago. As fun as it was, I knew I would never pay for a ticket. This year, I lucked out again when one of my best friend’s dad couldn’t find a friend to join him in Chicago on Friday. He generously gave Steph two VIP passes, and we were beyond pumped to RAGE.

I worked from home that morning, planning on logging off at noon so that we could be there the entire day. Most of the morning was slow, so I was able to braid my hair while reading and researching. Around 11, a mini emergency came up with an FY17 report to our C-suite. Maybe it was the adrenaline or maybe it was the actual urgency, but I powered through those materials and met Steph on the Brown Line by 2.

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It was a bit chilly that Friday, only supposed to be in the 60s, maybe 70s, but Steph and I either overdressed or underdressed, depending on how you want to look at it. Everyone else on the train was wearing jeans and jackets, but we were rockin’ the bodysuits and booty shorts. We were ready to GO.

VIP has a private entrance, so we didn’t have to wait in line and made it through in a breeze (this is a BFD if you’ve ever stood in the general admission line which can take hours). They also didn’t even check our bags, so honestly we could have brought in our flasks if we wanted. Then, we remembered we were going to have open bar all night. No flasks necessary.

We walked into Grant Park, mischievously laughing and wondering where the VIP lounges were so we could avoid the general admission peasants. There are two VIP lounges, north and south, both equipped with open bars, unlimited free food from Big Star and Publican Quality Meats, golf cart shuttles, spa tent with massages, and air conditioned bathrooms with plumbing. We found the north lounge and headed straight towards the Tito’s sign.

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Tito’s had its own little stand, but there was also a giant bar. I noticed Steph staring over at the bar, and I quickly realized one of the bartenders was exactly her type. As a Grade A wing woman, I know her type better than I know my own (my only criteria is that they’re taller than me and a complete asshole, but bonus points if they’re an athlete). We gave each other a look, chugged our drinks, and headed directly towards our first target of the night.

For having Lolla Lemonade, there were a million other different versions of lemon drinks. There were a variety of cocktails, alcohol, and beers, but we mainly stuck with Tito’s, sparkling water, and lemonade. Steph, of course, had to ask what he recommended and engage in conversation. I’m that awkward friend watching while sipping my drink, waiting to hype up my friend should there be a lull in the conversation.

We stayed close to the bar, forgetting all of our plans to see different stages and shows. We had to get drunk first. It was also sprinkling, so we were fine staying under the tent and drinking. We made some friends, but I frankly don’t remember much. I know we talked for a long time with a guy our age and his dad, and they were so sweet. The guy was super cute and he knew it, but apparently not cute enough for me to remember his name or try to pursue anything.

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On the other hand, liquid courage led Steph to write her number on a napkin to give to the bartender. How vintage. I remember it took us at least 20 minutes to decide what to write, and I couldn’t tell you now what it said. The rest of the bartenders knew we were up to something and even snagged the guy from his break to talk to Steph. As fun as that was, literally nothing come of that. Bummer.

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We were sufficiently drunk in an hour, and we headed to Perry’s for Slushii. When in doubt, we knew to go to Perry’s because we love EDM. We raged. It was awesome. All of these teenagers around us were on drugs and I kept wondering how their parents let them come. I mean, my mom let me go to Club Chrome in Springfield a couple times as a teenager, but it closed after a shooting so that didn’t last long. Which was more unsafe? Debatable.

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The next couple of hours were a blur. Optimistically, we were browned out. I wouldn’t remember most of it if it wasn’t for Snapchat, but I still don’t remember most of it even with Snapchat.

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I’m pretty sure we were running all around the different stages. Literally, running. Looking at my step count, we logged 10 miles that day. Keep in mind that we had golf carts to take us between stages. We chose to run, sprinting up hills and shouting, “WE WORKOUT!” We also found some branches to do hanging crunches, and we also took an intermission to take cartwheel Boomerangs.

Honestly, we took a shocking amount of good pictures during this time. I don’t remember any of them. There’s one Snapchat of me sprinting alone and saying something unintelligible. My sister, who knows my speech patterns better than anyone else, thinks I said, “Let’s never run again?” before sprinting off in the distance. So, basically I’m a bitch that has no chill. Surprise, surprise.

We had many photobombs, too. I don’t know any of those people.

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We were headed to Perry’s again, to see 3LAU or Grammatik or, well, I don’t know, to be honest. I do remember, though, some teenagers (okay, they were probably under 25 idk), stopping us to say, “Hey, we have some Molly, but we’ve never tried it before and we’re nervous. See?” They showed us a packet of “Molly,” but it honestly looked like Trader Joe’s sea salt, so beats me.

I assured them, “Relaaaaax, you’ll be fine. It’s like pre-workout — you’ll just sweat a bunch!” Then we frolicked away to the stage.

For the record, I have never taken Molly or even pre-workout, so I have no idea where that came from. Did they want us to take it for them to make sure it was safe? What? I’m still so confused and even Blackout Mary knew that was worth remembering (and Snapchatting). My sincerest apologies to the parents of those boys.

After another show (I think), we headed to the lounge to get some food. We hadn’t been hungry, but we were being responsible adults. We quickly realized we were starving, and we inhaled the free food. The pulled pork sandwich was the best thing I’ve ever eaten — hands down. I think we ate every other plate, too. Satiated and happy, we decided to check out the spa tent.

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We waited in line for massages for about 20 minutes before being told they were closed. Wtf? Whatever. We drank more. And some more. I think at the end of the night we had 8 drinks each? Maybe it was 10? I don’t know. “VIP is sooooooooo worth it!”

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It was starting to get dark, and the headliners would be coming on soon. We had planned it out to see DJ Snake first, then the Killers, then take the golf cart to finish with Blink-182. We had to make a pit stop though and lay on the ground. We needed to come back to life.

Once we were, we sprinted over again to Perry’s, meeting some friends along the way.

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DJ Snake was AMAZING. I was thriving. I know that because I posted a million Snapchat stories of DJ Snake with the caption, “I am thriving.” I also apparently tried recording on my GoPro, but I would later learn that 65 out of 70 minutes were all facing towards my hand. I don’t think we were even there for an hour? I have no idea.

Steph met a boy and was doin’ her thang, but I was dancing and living it up with my bad self. Apparently, the guy told Steph, “Look, your friend is dancing all alone. Go join her and have fun and you can text me later.” She assured him, “No! She does this all the time! She loves it, I swear!”

That was not the first time that guys have felt bad for me dancing alone. LOL.

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We decided it was time to head to Grant Park stage to see the Killers, so we squeezed our way out. Steph got the guy’s number, and I realized I hadn’t found any guys so far. As we were walking, Steph pointed to a random guy and told me to kiss him, so I grabbed some stranger’s face and continued to walk away after about 10 seconds. Again, my sincerest apologies.

Before we made it out of the crowd, we realized we hadn’t taken advantage of our VIP access to the stages. “Let’s go backstage! We’re VIP!”

We tried climbing up Perry’s backstage, but that was a hard “no” from security. Bummer.

I don’t remember what song the Killers played while we were at their stage, but I know that it wasn’t Mr. Brightside, Somebody Told Me, or When You Were Young. So, we took the golf cart to Blink-182. We ran through the crowd, singing our hearts out to All the Small Things. For their last few songs, there were fireworks and it was an amazing way to finish the night.

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We maneuvered our way out of the crowds, walking down the streets to the Green Line. I remember feeling the same feelings as last year — a strong sense of unity as we all charged Michigan Avenue. Beggars were creative, and we marched on.

We took the Green Line to Soho House for the Allan Rayman after party. However, we decided to just go to the pool. With our shoes and ankles covered in mud, we swaddled ourselves in towels, lying on the rooftop. More mischievous giggling ensued.

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Finally, we decided to go downstairs and check out the show. He was good, but we were also losing steam. We got some walking tacos (best drunk food ever) and decided it was time to call it quits. It was midnight, and we went hard for 8 hours straight. Bed was necessary.

I took the 8 bus home, showering and crawling into bed by 12:30AM. I told my family I was safe and didn’t get kidnapped or robbed (keep in mind, this was the first time blacking out in Chicago since St. Patty’s Day), and I went to sleep with a smile on my face.

The next morning I woke up with a weird kind of headache. I rarely get hangovers, and I think it was mainly from the loud music. My neck hadn’t been that sore since my 2010 Halloween party when Whip My Hair first came out. Was it all a dream? So much was a blur, and I was scared, yet excited to review my camera roll and Snapchat Story. For the next week, Steph and I would be texting each other, “OMG I just remembered this happened…”

What I do remember? Multiple times, I was near tears saying how happy I was.

Maybe it was all a dream.

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++ Mary K

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