AUSTIN, Texas — There’s a misconception that music festivals and intoxication go hand in hand. While not true, the choice is challenging for festivalgoers in recovery.
“I've been sober for eight years," said Andy de la Cruz, a volunteer for Sober Park. “I never had a stopping point I always went past that threshold of having a good time into another oblivion. It's been important for people to know that you don't have to attend any kind of music show and have to drink to get the full fun and experience out of it.”
Sober Park is a group of people choosing to stay drug and alcohol free during the music festival.
“Most of my friends don't even realize that I'm not drinking when I’m out in the crowd with them because I'm free as well, you know, just kind of you know dancing around and having fun,” de la Cruz said.
At the Sober Park tent, fans comfort each other. They don’t condone or condemn. Instead they offer reassurance and respite. It's all part of Harmonium Inc., where members attend more than a dozen music festivals across the country. While the nonprofit is not affiliated with any Alcoholics or Narcotics Anonymous groups, there is time set aside for one-on-one or group meetings.
"Just check in and kind of share where you're at if there's some kind of anxiety or fear our gratitude those are all things that we talk about, just sharing our struggles," de la Cruz said.
Volunteers also handed out yellow stickers that said "One show at a time" and bumper stickers that said "You don't need dope to dance." The idea is for sober music fans to identify each other in the crowds and realize that they’re not the only ones going through recovery.
“You're not alone," de la Cruz said. "One of the important things for me being personally in recovery is that I isolated a whole lot and realizing there's whole group of us here.”