Woodstock Wasn’t The Beginning: A Brief History of Music Festivals

in Culture

Humans are born alone, but we get together to listen to music and party. You might even say that the history of humans is the history of music and festivals. Parties have been popping long before Coachella’s lineup was announced because we’re social creatures and even the most introverted people still get FOMO. Throughout history, people all over the world have been getting together to play music and rage like college sophomores at festivals.

We have early proof of festival and party culture thanks to something that makes every party special: the music. Before humans ever settled into farming around 6,000 years ago, when we still were migratory hunters and gatherers, people were already getting together in sacred places to eat, paint, and have jam seshes. Hunting and gathering required teamwork and planning, so early humans were already getting together to create surpluses of food, which allowed for leisure time and creative expression like music and cave paintings.

Translation: even cavemen were working for the weekend.

Paleolithic flute; Wikimedia CommonsMost importantly, the archaeological record shows that paleolithic humans were enjoying crunchy beats at least 35,000 years ago. In modern Germany, flutes have been discovered in regions where people were gathering to paint caves of animals and carve small female forms. The weather wasn’t the only thing that made the Ice Age pretty cool.

When people began farming, civilizations formed along with a new reason to party: the harvest. Harvests allowed humans to enjoy the fruits of their labor with bountiful food for feasts. Learning how to garden also gave party people nature’s greatest gift—hemp—along with grains and grapes, which people quickly figured out how to ferment into beer and wine. The word festival actually comes from the Latin festum or feast. These early civilizations even had …

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Author: Tom Cohen / High Times

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