Raving with ADHD: A Guide to Making the Most of Your Experience

Every year raves and festivals capture the attention of new individuals with its vibrant lights, upbeat music, and welcoming atmosphere. However, for some individuals, raving can also come with unique challenges. This, however, is not something that should keep anyone from enjoying this community but rather something to plan ahead for and find out what methods help best to ensure a fun and great experience!

Start off Small:

Photo credit: Believe Music Hall

Something that was truly helpful was experiencing small raves before jumping into any big festivals. There are many different ways to find local raves such as radiate or simply looking up upcoming raves in your area. The first time I attended a rave, I went to a small local show in my hometown. The venue was actually one of the bigger ones, so there was space to step away, go outside, and get some fresh air incase I started to feel overstimulated. Along with starting off small i went with a couple friends who had been raving for multiple years. They were a lot more experiences than i was and knew to bring things such as fans, water, candy, and even sunglasses in case the lasers became overwhelming at any point. 

From this experience, I learned that the rave community is extremely kind and welcoming, and people are truly just there to become friends with one another. It was from attending these local raves that I was able to acknowledge what I enjoyed and what I was comfortable with. I acknowledged what items I needed to take to feel comfortable and what my limit was. 

Although it’s extremely tempting to just jump right into a big festival, it can be a lot, and the overall feeling any rave should bring you is joy, not anxiety.

Plan Ahead:

There are various ways to help prevent any surprises that may affect your overall experience. Creating a checklist allows you to go back and revisit what items you already have and which ones you still need. Often, while packing and trying to get everything together, we overlook small items that are very much essential. When creating my personal checklist, I separate it into small categories such as technology, makeup, clothing, essentials, etc. This method has personally helped me feel organized and ensures that I don’t forget things such as a portable charger or even my pashmina. Along with this, you’re able to revisit your list after the festival and identify what items were actually helpful and what items you may be able to leave behind.

Maps and landmarks:

Keiki-Lani Knudsen/Insomniac Events

Although we may want to stay together with our friends, at some point, everyone will likely want to split up, and for this reason, it’s important to familiarize yourself not only with the schedule but also with the layout of the festival grounds. With large festivals such as EDC, Bonnaroo, etc., it may be a bit harder since there are so many different stages. It’s for this reason that it’s also important to find a specific area that everyone can come back to at the end of the night rather than trying to send a million messages and getting overstimulated that they won’t send. It’s important to look for specific areas that you can go to in case you start to feel overstimulated at any point. Typically, these places are big green areas where there is plenty of space for you to sit and hang out.

When it comes to the lineup, I like to screenshot the schedule for each day and set it as my phone lock screen. I look through the list and highlight each artist that I’d like to see, and if there’s a schedule clash, then I highlight the one that I’m most eager to see. Depending on the DJ, I may plan to leave at a specific time to catch the closing of the other DJ. This helps me manage my time and find time in between to take breaks, get on rides, venture around and watch new DJ’s and make the most of my experience. 

My favorite essentials:

There are a couple of items that I enjoy keeping on me at all times in case I get overstimulated. These items include noise-canceling earplugs, which help me focus on just the music and block out other sounds that may be overstimulating. Additionally, I always carry fidget toys, sunglasses, pashminas, gum or any candy, and a clutch loop. Personally, I like having my phone with me, but if you prefer keeping it inside a fanny pack or hydropack, I would definitely recommend purchasing an antitheft one. Along with this, make sure to dress comfortably and wear the right shoes that will allow you to dance around all night.

Festie Bestie:

Having a friend who is understanding and supportive makes your overall experience so much better! It’s important to be open and communicate with them about any concerns or needs that you may have. If at any point you’re feeling overwhelmed, having a friend to accompany you or simply help you ground yourself again is truly helpful. I remember wanting to go see Seven Lions at EDC Orlando last year, but I was getting overwhelmed and didn’t want to go alone. Thankfully, one of my close friends knew and went with me. Not only did she accompany me, but she made sure I felt comfortable and happy the entire time! She took me to the rails and would check up on me to make sure it wasn’t too loud and that I wasn’t overwhelmed at any point. Along with this, she interacted with me and consistently asked me if I was doing okay or if I wanted to leave the rails and go into an area with more space. It’s an experience that I truly am thankful to have been able to share with such a kind and caring friend.

Raving with ADHD may seem a bit scary at first, but the rave community is all about being open, kind, and accepting to everyone! It can be an amazing experience, but in order to make the most of it, you have to listen to your body and accommodate your needs. Exploring the festival grounds and planning with all your necessary essentials is an amazing way to let go of any fear you may have and simply enjoy the freedom that the rave community provides.

– Katie Chicas; IG: @La.Luna.Sonreia

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