Photo by Nate "Igor" Smith Once you arrive at the Gathering, you quickly learn you did not need to bring all that food.
Even as we enter day four of our time here at the Gathering of the Juggalos in Cave-In-Rock, Illinois, we still haven't yet exactly mastered the art of being productive, functioning people in a kingdom of hedonistic insanity. As we ascend the mountain of madness and slime, more and more things become apparent. For example, a lot of the shit we brought is completely useless here. There are some things that simply do not belong at the Gathering of the Juggalos.
So after compiling a list Friday of the items that you should bring to the Gathering, we used our rapidly deteriorating intellects to put together a list of the opposite: Things you should avoid bringing along when camping with Juggalos.
This is a festival, which can only mean one thing: port-a-johns galore. All the crapboxes you've ever wanted to see in your wildest dreams. Defecating in public is intimidating enough for many of us, and in this particular situation, it would probably be best to just not eat for a few days. The toilets here are all strangely lopsided and feel like they're moving when you're in them. The outsides are covered in spray paint and the insides of them are either covered in mud or poop. When the rains come--and boy, do they--one can't help thinking, while wandering the grounds that the entire earth beneath our feet is actually just human waste.
9. Bug Spray
This seems to fly in the face of conventional logic, we know, but other than this weird lump that spontaneously appeared on the back left side of my neck (which could be some sort of inaugural "backne"), there is no evidence that insect life is capable of existing at the Gathering of the Juggalos. Even with sugary Faygo soda sticking to every surface, the noxious environment leaves confusingly few bugs to be found.
8. Skinny Jeans
Interaction 1: "Hey faggot, where did you get them skinny jeans? C'mon, tell me where you got them skinny jeans! Hey, where are you going, skinny jeans?"
Interaction 2: "Yeah, I knew you guys were press when I saw you wearing those black jeans."
Interaction 3: "I usually wear skinny jeans, but I actually went out and bought these baggy pants when I realized I was coming here."
If you're coherent enough to find the condoms, you're probably clear-headed enough to realize that you should not have sex with the thing you're about to have sex with. Besides, if you decide you really need to get yourself some strange, you can always just use one of the many mud-covered discarded condoms on the ground.
6. Anyone That You Care About
You're going to be drunk. You're going to spend thirty minutes in a bathroom. You're going to get caught up in a conversation with a Juggalo dad selling cigarettes for another thirty minutes. And then you're going to lose track of the people you came with. You have to trust that the Gathering will see whoever you're with to total safety. Which, at this point, is a concept we are no longer 100 percent familiar with.
5. Cell Phones
Your cell phone will not work. There is absolutely no reception out here in the land of the shirtless and careless--it is little more than a glorified flashlight here. If you do happen to bring your phone, you will likely lose it. Personally, I passed out in a field the first night we were here and tried to walk away from my phone while it was laying in a pile of mud. Thankfully, an associate was there to remind me it was something that I might want to use again in life, back in reality.
It seems that at every outdoor festival, someone is dragging their helpless canine from one dumb corner to the other. While I don't think dogs can be traumatized by seeing a large shirtless man with a skull painted on his chest staring into the sky and holding a power strip plugged into who-knows-what, they can have their ears blown by the phat beatz and skinny dudes with braided pigtails shouting into megaphones. Even worse, you could be the distraught young man we met who was ejected from the festival after his service dog apparently bit the dog of Insane Clown Posse's Shaggy 2 Dope.
3. Spray Paint, Fireworks, and Glass Bottles
These are the only things you will be screened for by security. And sometimes you will have to wait to be searched because the guards are preoccupied by girls taking their tops off, of course. Save time and leave this stuff at home.
A lot of the food here exists in the state fair format--it's on a stick or eaten with your hands. Also, in the event that you disregarded our earlier warning that "eating food equals pooping in this terrifying space" and brought stuff from home, you can still make a PB&J sandwich using the free butcher's knife pendant you got with admission.
Have we hammered this point home enough, yet? There is a monumental amount of drugs around here. It is akin to being the most attractive person in any room and being offered sex--it seems like every single person around you is propositioning you, and sooner or later, you're going to cave. So unless you're one of the many juggalo entrepreneurs out there, prevent yourself from the Deliverance-style danger of smuggling illicit substances past rural police and just buy everything in sight, on site.