“Heady” Festival Vocabulary

The festival world is so far from reality it even has its own lingo. Newcomers to the scene may find themselves confused during conversations, so here’s a freak vocabulary lesson to keep you in the know.

Shakedown Street

Every festival has one, or more than one. Derived from the beloved Dead this refers to a row of vendors found usually within the campground. When you arrive at a festival-ready to shop just locate the local Shakedown for many festival goodies like clothes, glass, jewelry, hoops, and all other manners of fun.

The “official” Shakedown may be a licensed area with vendors armed with permits and legitimate businesses; however, there is usually an “Illegal Shakedown” or “mini-Shakedown”. These areas have seasoned illegal veterans who do not have permission to sell but have banded together to help each other lookout for The Man to not get busted.

Because this Shakedown is not licensed they may have better deals or even be willing to make trades and barter. This area is also generally where “party favors” can more easily be located and purchased.


In the festival world, a “miracle” means something entirely different. To “miracle” someone is to provide them with a ticket to the festival free of charge.

Often these are people who are prominent in the festival scene and have just found themselves in some bad luck, perhaps following the scene for months and simply running out of money before the last stop.

You may be in the presence of a worthy soul who feels that karma will provide for them what they need. However, BEWARE!  You may also be in the presence of a true freeloading asshole that has no intention of actually enjoying any music and vibes but rather plans to gain admittance only to rip people off with fake drug deals, or even just plain steal from other campers.

If you are in the position to “miracle” someone into the show, just make sure it’s they’re the former.

Ground Score

This refers to awesome unclaimed items you find on the ground around the campsite. You may find that during a festival weekend you can ground score all kinds of fun items like money, drugs, sleeping bags, and who knows what.

I even ground scored a hula hoop once!  Someone just left it on my car after the festival was over, so starting my new obsession with hooping!

The best time for a solid ground score harvest is if you hang around the festival grounds until the next morning after the shows are over. If you have the time to wander a little you’ll be surprised at how much cool shit gets lost or simply left behind.


This is one of my favorite terms!  We’ve all seen them out and about, and some of you may be one. The term wookie in this case refers to the dirty dread heads who have spent a large majority of their time frequenting shows and festivals. They sometimes resemble homeless people because many of them live on the festival circuit and live the festy life year-round.

If they are coherent they can give great advice and usually know where the best shows, food, and goodies are. If you see one in their natural habitat don’t be alarmed, wookies are usually a friendly animal. So hunker down, buy them a grilled cheese and talk some music.

Who’s Got My___?

When walking around a festival you will certainly find characters mumbling “Who’s got my blah blah blah?”  These people do not have turrets but rather are either looking to buy or sell certain party favors.

Much like those who hold out signs claiming to need tickets, but may actually be selling tickets, this phrase is often used both ways. If you are looking for something just mumble this phrase to anyone walking by and they will either ignore you or stop you if they have something to offer.

If they are looking too they may even give you tips on where they are planning to head next on the hunt.


Let’s use this in a sentence, shall we? “I had so much fun at the Wakarusa late-night sets watching all the little Spunions at Bassnectar and Ghostland.” I have to thank Matt from TheUntz.com for giving me this little gem of festival vocabulary.

I now feel that it is the only word to describe all the little sweaty, spun, lovin’ it folks running around late night from DJ to DJ, dancing till they can no longer walk.

The late-night sets are full of them, and the high energy vibe they bring really keeps the party going throughout the night. We should thank them, for the Spunions are usually the ones who get the after-party tents set up in the campgrounds so that we have somewhere to go after the shows end and party all night!


This is a loosey-goosey form of dancing, often found at shows where a large crowd of f-ed up people are in attendance.  This dance involves very little skill and basically just entails a small amount of swaying and flailing your arms around.

It’s the easiest dance to do when you are really wasted but really feeling the music. It’s a timeless art that has been around for ages, and as long as there have been hippies, there’s been a noodle or two in the crowd.


This is a loving term given to festy kids who were probably nicely dressed suburban children of CPA’s and SUV driving soccer Moms at some point. They gave up the cushy life to dress like bums and travel the festival scene, finding its music and drug scene far more appealing than the upper-middle-class society of their youth.

These little rascals usually partake in the best party supplies and always know where the after-party is, because when you have a backup bank account full of money, the party never has to end. Rage on trust fun kids, you’re parents may not understand you but we do!

Have a Good Show!!

Pretty self-explanatory but this is a farewell greeting to any festival friends you meet along your adventures around the campgrounds. It’s a nice way to say goodbye to people you may never see again but who have made your weekend a lot more fun.

Well, there you have it. Some music festival vocabulary to help you keep up with all the festival oddities. Get out there and have a good damn time.