Festival Coverage

A Practical Guide to Hopscotch: Mistakes I’ve Made and How to Avoid Them

We’ve all made mistakes.  Sometimes you can laugh about them later, or they become a thing you try to keep on the DL forever.  Sometimes they keep you working hard but not smart. Sometimes they fill you with regret. At best, you can even learn from them.

Ideally, you want to learn from other people’s mistakes. Take mine, for example: in these last few days of self-reflection as I try my darndest to make this Hopscotch weekend the best one ever, it’s not hard to pinpoint a few instances where some decisions may not have been the most conducive to an enjoyable and/or festival experience.  

I’ll try to outline some of the basics to consider, lest they are not obvious for some people. Just take it from me, don’t learn the hard way.


1.  Wear well-worn, comfortable shoes.  I mean, we all know Hopscotch is kind of like fashion week for Raleigh, but don’t wear shoes you’ve recently acquired (even if they’re awesome and you really want to show them off) because who knows, maybe they’ll start giving you blisters after two hours of being on your feet. You do not want to spend any day/night of Hopscotch limping around while the back of your ankles are being rubbed raw by your cute new loafers. Don’t take the gamble, it’s not worth it.  Your shoes will end up a mess by the end of the night anyways.

2. Moisture+Friction=Blisters.  This might be a handy equation to keep in mind this weekend.  Also, socks absorb moisture (this is good).

3. Do not stay up all night  (unless it’s the last night, but still).  You know what is not fun?  Nodding at the bar. Dozing off at a show. Wishing you were in bed when you’re at an event you’ve anticipated for months.

4. The Buddy System.  Okay, so this one isn’t based on one of my own experiences, but it has happened to someone I know (who will remain anonymous).  People get drunk and things get lost.  Don’t end up incapacitated without any resources!  Stick with your buddies if you’ve been drinking a lot.  Also friends don’t let friends walk home alone when everything is spinning.

5. Stay hydrated.  Even if you’re not drinking, chances are if you’re Hopscotching you’ll be sweating.  A lot. Dehydration can cause headaches, fatigue, irritability, and vomiting, all which make show-going and celebrating a lot less fun. Try to carry a water bottle.  Do not hesitate to ask for water at the bar.  I personally think that bars and restaurants should be required to provide free tap water (while this is not a law, I think most establishments already do this for liability reasons).  

6. Visualize how far apart venues are from each other relative to performance times.  I’ve missed a few shows in the past because I had neglected to consider something as lame (but evidently crucial) as travel time.  For example, it takes about 15 minutes to walk from the Duke Energy Center for Performing Arts all the way to CAM, and that’s if you’re on a mission.  Consider that their shows start at the same time all night.

7.  Let your transactions be quick and dirty.  Closing out when you want to leave is a bummer, especially at a packed venue.  Carry cash and you can bounce whenever you feel like it, not 10 minutes later. Most merch is also cash only! 

8. Wear a book bag.  Maybe this is just me, But having a book bag makes it easier to carry a water bottle, merchandise, and even a jacket or umbrella.  They’re also harder to lose than a purse. Just don’t stuff it to the extent that it’s a burden on your shoulders.

9. Use *real* Ear plugs. One Hopscotch a few years ago I ran into a friend (whose anonymity I keep as a courtesy) on the street during the day.  At a day party, he had improvised ear plugs with toilet paper, which got stuck too deep in his ear.  Everything we tried to do to get it out made it worse.  CVS was closed and no where else sold tweezers.  Thankfully an insider at Jimmy Johns got access to their First-Aid kit and he was able to pull out the tissue.  While I’m not saying sticking toilet paper in your ears is better than nothing, you’ve got to protect your sense of hearing.  If you’re perpetually unprepared like me, shamelessly try to bum a pair off of anyone else you see wearing some.

10. Check the weather. I’m looking at you, 2012.

-DJ Acorn