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Chair massage at Bestival

Another festival! I was slightly nervous about this one though as I had signed up to do chair massage and would be on my own rather than the set up at Camp Bestival I would be responsible for getting clients and finding a pitch. Having never been to Bestival it all seemed a little scary.

Three of us had booked to do chair massage, Regina, Imogen and myself, so we arranged to drive us down together on Wednesday. After a slightly rocky start and last minutes preparation we set off later than planned and with the added confusion with a road closure, we got to site with twenty minutes to spare to get our wrist (ankle) bands and car passes.

The festival was on the same site as Camp Bestival but with a different set up, some of the fields hadn’t recovered fully so weren’t used, this meant there was quite a walk from the car to the pitch for our tent but a couple of trips and we were settled pretty quick. The three of us felt a mixture of anxious and excited for what the next day would hold for us.

Thursday morning we found our way to the Slow Motion area and met Lucy who had t-shirts for us to wear and she gave us a few tips on where might be good to put the chairs. All the therapists were so lovely and helpful and Jamie gave us a few reminders on technique on the chair. I was rusty and her reminders made us feel lots more confident.

As the festival opened to the general public everywhere became busy. We had the idea of putting the chairs at the entrance to the arena so as people arrived they would see us and hopefully when they had pitched their tents would come and find us for a massage.

This didn’t seem to work. The festival was filled with late teen early twenties and they seemed keener to find their friends, explore and have fun rather than relax. It did slightly dampen our spirits as it wasn’t a good start, it made us question if we would break even let alone make a profit! Had we made a mistake? We lasted about three hours and had done about four massage each, people were becoming more drunk so we dragged our chairs back to the tent with our heads down. We decided that evening to be more positive and try again the next day in a different area.

I woke about 7.30am to the sound of heavy rain on the tent – this was not a good start, I felt beaten already. I mediated for a while and managed to nod off again. When I woke the rain had eased and I felt more determined.

I volunteered to explore the site to find some good spots. In The Lawn area there was a more family vibe with craft tents and near a food tent there was some sheltering in trees if needed. I felt this might be worth trying. It was a walk though and the ground was too muddy to use the wheels on the chair so it took a while to get there and set up. It was later than we expected to set up due to the rain but also coincided with lunch time so hoped to be busy. For first half hour people politely read our sign and half smiled and walked on – we gave each other treatments to demonstrate what we were doing. Eventually we had a client and within an hour we had a queue! As it neared 6pm it got quieter so  we packed up and headed back to our tent, our chairs they felt lighter and we all had a new enthusiasm, maybe festival work was for me after all.

Saturday morning was unfortunately more rain and so we didn’t venture out of our tents till afternoon to make the walk to set up, but the day was productive again and we finally covered our costs and started making profit. Phew!

We were so popular that at 8pm we were still there, it was getting dark and the arena was getting busy. The thought of walking back through the mud with the chairs and trying to avoid drunken partygoers was not appealing. Luckily a lovely stall holder nearby offered to keep our chairs safe for the night in return for a free massage the following day! Why on earth did we not think of this sooner! The three of us were buzzing after a productive day and not having to carry heavy equipment through the mud again was a big bonus.

Going straight into the arena meant for a fun evening.

Waking on the last day to more rain was no longer a shock but the wind was high and we witnessed a few people giving up on their tents and putting them in the bin.

The arena had been closed for health and safety but as we had crew passes they let us through – the ground was so wet and straw was being laid to try and make it safe enough for people to enter the arena again. It was a miserable day and enthusiasm was low.

We were so grateful to the stall holder that we didn’t have to carry the chairs back through the site. It was a slow day, we heard many people had left due to tents being destroyed or having enough of the mud. Thankfully we had made a profit so we were happy with the clients we had that day.

Regina had great idea to take the chairs out through the path and onto the road around the festival and back to our cars to avoid all the mud. Wheeling the chairs on the road was so much easier – it was a longer distance but quicker and easier.

On returning to our tent we realised the wind had blown so hard that the rain had got into the tent, we had no option but to pack up and be ready to leave that night.

I had planned of going to the beach again like Jenny and I had at Camp Bestival but the weather changed our plans.

We enjoyed what was left of the day and once the fireworks had finished we headed off, arriving home about 2am, happy to be back to a hot shower and to sleep in a comfy bed.

I have asked myself during the weekend, would I do this again? My answer kept changing, once we found a good spot it was great and people we met were lovely and we fed off the festival vibe. The experience was great and really it was only the weather that held us back, every other obstacle we could get over. So yes I will be doing this again.

I think you need to go with the thought that you could afford to loose the pitch fee so if weather was really bad and you didn’t make money it wasn’t a total loss. It was a roller coaster of emotions over the weekend and next time I think I will have to be better prepared with a waterproof cover for the chair and a trolley to carry them so it will go through the mud better. Also better waterproof clothing for me! It turned out my new coat wasn’t as waterproof as I had hoped. Once you have a good pitch make friends with a nearby stall holder to arrange a deal to look after your chair – this made a huge difference! Like I said though its all experience and next year I will be super prepared for anything and I’m looking forward to doing it again.

I would love to hear about your massage festival experiences good or bad – leave a comment below or get in touch at hello@busyhive.co.uk