When my college weight lifting coach asked if me and a teammate wanted to work Bonnaroo, my thoughts were ‘um duh… free concerts, the experience, all while making money?!’ So, a few details were discussed… I had to become an unarmed security guard (which for me, consists of paying money and bringing a passport picture). I guess my coach could vouch for my bouncer like skills. I mean I did hold the womens power clean record at the time. I was scary… and those hippies would be sure to bow down and do what I said.
First let me say, my teammate that was supposed to be going with me (and really the only reason myself and my parents were ok with the situation) ended up being unable to go due to a bad break-up with one of the football players. So I packed my bags, and headed to the gym to see which guys I was going to be camping out with for the next 5 days. We get a huge speech from our coach, and he tells the guys that if anything happens to me that he will personally kill them, and then we go outside to wait for the greyhound. It arrives, and I board to find the entire Georgia Tech football team on there. Nope, no other girls. Just me and 2 football teams heading out to Bonnaroo. My mind kept going back and forth between thinking two things. 1. Hmmm, there are a couple of cute guys on here and 2. I really might get gang banged.
So we arrive, and are taken to our tent… a HUGE tent. They tell us to grab a cot, and pick a spot. I really dont know how many cots we fit in that tent, but I would say atleast 100. Maybe 5 girls, 3 that weren’t lesbo… yes, that’s counting myself. I pick a spot in the middle of my bodyguards and spread out my pretty blue sheets only to realize we had like 15 min to get our first assignment.
We all report to a tent and are split into shifts to search the cars when the gates open. When I say search cars, I mean we were told the following. If they look suspicious, take the seats out, remove all luggage, check gloveboxes, push all buttons, and use flashlights. If they had more than 2 liters of alcohol per person we were to confiscate the rest, if they had weed that looked like it was for more than personal use, confiscate it. Any paraphernalia take it. Weapons, duh you idiots… they’re mine now. You would be surprised the things you see… I confiscated a machete, yes… a 3 foot long sharp knife. Really?! Multiple knifes, hatchets, and axes. Lots and lots and lots of extra marijuana… 12 big black trash bags full at the end of it to be exact. I, on the other hand, was no help. I dont know drugs. Sorrrrry, I can’t tell what a white bag of stuff is, and I dont know how much weed is enough to be a big deal. There is no telling what I let through those gates. So, there were about 3 days of 12 hour shifts in the bazillion degree weather of doing that. If it got too busy at the gate, we weren’t as strict. I do remember one particular car that came through where everyone was naked, whooping and hollering… even when they got out of the car. I also remember a guy crying when I took his bowl. There were people straight out of the woods, people in million dollar RV’s, people from other countries… you name it, they go to Bonnaroo.
Sleeping in a tent full of men was interesting. My boys were more like big brothers. I couldn’t go to the port-a-potties without an escort, someone waited outside of the portable shower for me, and made sure I always made it to the make-shift cafeteria.
After everyone had arrived, our shifts switched to being stage guards at the concerts. I, being one of the few women, got the very important job of being the handicap ramp guard. This meant that I had middle of the field front and center view of all of the concerts, and that I checked everyone for there white ‘handicap’ bracelets. Not a bad gig at all. I saw BB King, Pearl Jam… who pissed off Kayne West (on purpose) by doing an encore and making his show late. By late I mean, I watched the sunrise as Kayne’s prick ass performed after he was the only performer the whollllle time that insisted on having his own set put up rather than using the main stage. I saw Jack Johnson, and had the night off for Metallic and lots of techno tents and ‘glow stick shows’. It. Was. Awesome.
If you haven’t been, you hear rumors about hippies running around and nudity and such. Well, this isn’t false… but its also not entirely true. While I did see plenty of F’ed up people, there were also the frat kids, the families, the senior citizens, and everyone in between. I did see a few butterfly painted chests with no shirts on (yes, women), and had to call the paramedics when some girl ran up to me crying that her friend was dead (cause a bright yellow security shirt can help with that…) but I was able to find someone to help the girl whose eyes were in the back of her head seizing.
All in all… It was definitely one of the most interesting things I’ve done. Maybe not as a Security Guard, but I firmly believe that everyone should have the Bonnaroo experience at least once.