This is how we ‘Roo – How to survive your first Bonnaroo

What to expect

The Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival kicked off on June 11. The four-day music festival is held on a 700 acre farm in Manchester, Tennessee.

Billy Joel, Florence and the Machine, Kendrick Lamar and Mumford and Sons are a few of the headliners. There’s an estimated 80,000 people expected to attend this year’s festival.

Don’t get it twisted. Bonnaroo has a lot more to offer:

LeBRONNAROO: Game 5 of the NBA Finals between the Clevland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors were shown on Sunday. Game 4 was also aired during the festival.

There was also a screening of the “Game of Thrones” finale.

The most interesting Bonnaroo event is the “quote-along” screenings for films like “Mean Girls” and “Zoolander” along with R.Kelly “Trapped in the Closet” series.

The Bonnaroo festival also featured a number of comedians, including Chris Hardwick, Ralphie May and Nick Thune.


360 #Bonnaroo

A video posted by Taylor Shaw (@taylorcshaw) on

My favorite performance came from Earth, Wind and Fire. It was amazing to see the people around me singing along to “Shining Star” and “Boogie Wonderland” because more than half of them weren’t even born when these songs were released. They had so much energy! It seemed like they wore the same outfits as they did in the 70s. They were great! I immediately added “Earth, Wind and Fire” radio to Pandora.

Click here for the Spotify playlist for Bonnaroo 2015.


#SquadGoals Earth, Wind and Fire rocked it last night at #Bonnaroo.


A video posted by Taylor Shaw (@taylorcshaw) on

Manchester is about three hours away from my home in Knoxville, Tennessee. I work at a TV station as was able to get press passes for the festival. I was a little nervous about the whole things at first. I’ve never been to a music festival before and I’ve never been camping. This was one of those moments where I had to dive in, head first.

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin

Here are a few lists that I put together to help you prepare for Bonnaroo (or another music festival.)

Packing list

  • Poncho
    • Not bringing it increases your chances for rain.
  • Medications
    • Bring whatever you take at home, plus a pain reliever and allergy medicine.
  • Sunglasses
  • First aid kit
  • Bug spray (travel size)
  • Sunscreen (travel size)
  • Plastic grocery bags (5)
  • Toilet paper
  • Flashlight
  • Ear plugs
  • Towel
  • Washcloth
  • Hand sanitizers (pocket size)
  • Extra hair ties and bobby pins
  • Diva Cup
    • NOTE: I did not use a Diva Cup, but some of my friends did. They said the experience was different, but totally worth it. I’m still not sure how I feel about it. I just used the portapotty without looking down into the abyss.
  • Travel sizes toiletries
    • Baby wipes
    • Body spray
    • Deodorant
    • Body Wash
    • Sanitary napkins/products (just in case)
    • Contact solution
    • Contact carrying case
    • Powder

If you do decide to bring alcohol, make sure its in a plastic container. Glass is prohibited at most music festival.


What to wear?

Since this is was my first time going to Bonnaroo, I treated it like a costume party. I spent hours in stores like Rugged Warehouse and Target trying to find the perfect look. I’ve been told by my friends that I always look like I’m going on a job interview. I can’t help it. I love trouser pants and blazers. I traded in these items for a flower headband and metallic tattoos.

Here’s what I packed:

  • Comfortable shoes that you don’t mind getting dirty
    • You’re on a farm! You can expect dirt and grass.  The show must go on rain or shine. Be prepared. I wore a pair of ankle boots from Target that I bought a few years ago. I also used my Dr. Sholls inserts to make them more comfortable. I trashed them after the festival because they were really dirty. My friends wore sneakers, Tevas or Chacos.
  • Socks (if you choose to wear closed toe shoes)
  • 2 sports bras or bandeau
    • I wouldn’t recommend wearing a real bra. It’s wayyy to hot!
  • 2 pairs of shorts
  • 2 dresses
    • You’re going to be in the sun all day. Pack a colorful flowy dress that you don’t mind getting dirty.
  • Tank tops (3)
    • Make sure you put sunscreen on your shoulders!
  • Hoodie
    • The temperature may drop at night.
  • 5 pairs of underwear
  • 1 hat
  • Swimsuit
  • Assessories
    • Flower headbands
    • Metallic temporary tattoos
  • Pajamas
    • I wore a pair of yoga pants and a cami to sleep. When I got cold, I put on a hoodie.
  • Flip flops
    • For a quick run around the campsite.

bonnaroo tent

Camping gear

I went to Bonnaroo with a group. One of my friends, Linda, owned most of the larger items on this list. She’s a she’s been to the festival six times. I guess you can say she’s a pro.

Here’s a list of the items we brought for camping:

  • Tent
    • Lucky for me, my friends knew how to set up a tent.
  • Tarp
  • Cooler
  • Ice
  • Sleeping bag
  • Pillow
  • Blanket
  • Pocket knife
  • Chairs

DON’T leave home without…

  • An external battery
    • I bought one from Groupon and I so glad that I did. Since I was unable to charge my phone, which I used as a camera, I bought a battery pack that was good for about three charges.
  • Long strap bag or fanny pack
    • I do not suggest wearing a backpack. Look for something small, but spacious. I used a bag I bought from a market in Mexico a few years ago.
  • Cash
    • It’s better to have too much, than not enough, especially since ATM’s inside the festival will charge a fee.



Was this helpful? I would love to hear your feedback. Shoot me an email, taylorcshaw[at]yahoo[dot]com. 


‘Follow the lead’

Over the weekend, one of my coworkers invited me to go swing dancing. KTown Swing in Knoxville offers a three and a half hour “bootcamp” for beginner dancers. I found a sweet deal on Groupon which cut down the $50 registration fee to $21. It was an offer too good to pass up.

While I am no stranger to dancing, partner dancing is new to me. Two people dancing, learning and moving together. Weird.

I started taking lessons when I was eight. I attended Nina’s School of Dance in Durham, N.C. until I was in high school. I took tap, ballet, jazz and modern classes. I also performed in recitals or at special events around the city.

I loved performing. It gave the dancers a chance to showcase their talents.

As I got older, dancing never stopped for me. I was a cheerleader in high school. I also took dance classes in high school. I was a member of my college’s modern dance company. I had opportunities to teach and choreograph performances for recitals and pageants.

Dancing is a part of me.

KTown Swing does not have their own studio, so we gathered at a coffee house downtown that lends space to the instructors.

There were a large crowd. Some wore regular clothes while others wore dresses and dancing shoes. I went to Walmart to buy a pair of Ked-like tie up shoes for swing dancing to go with my dress. There were quite a few men and people of different ages were there too.

We got into a circle and paired up. The followers stay in place while the leaders alternated thoughout the class. This gave everyone a chance to dance with other people.

One of the issues with swing dancing for me are the roles. There’s a leader and a follower. The leader is usually the male. They are the ones that iniciate the movements for the follower.

The leader to follower ratio was off, so some people were without a partner. I was one of them. One of the instructor saw me dancing by myself, so he came up and danced with me.

The footwork in swing dancing was not challenging. I grew up taking dance classes, so I am comfortable with keeping counts and fancy footwork.

My instructor noticed that.

He suggested that I “follow the lead:” pay attention to the body language and follow the flow.

That was hard for me.

When he said those words, it’s like I saw my whole life pass before my eyes.

I am a very independent person and allowing someone to lead was hard. Giving up control of my body and my movements was hard, but I did it.

I feel like this can be applied to life. Sometimes you have to give up control in order for things to work.


Here’s a look at the steps that I learned. 

Stream of conscious post

This is a stream of conscious post. I set my timer for 15 minutes and just started writing. I let the thoughts in my head, flow right down to my finger tips as I laid it all out with the tapping of the keyboard. 

It seems like when I’m not at work, I’m still watching WATE 6 On Your Side. Its its cool to see how things are on both sides of the coin. I know the people in front and behind the camera. I look at anchors like Lori Tucker and Bo Williams as the viewer at home would, but what I have over them, is I actually know them. I work with them. I think they are great journalists and role models inside and outside of the newsroom.

It’s almost 5:30 p.m. I should be preparing to go to bed. By preparing, I mean taking a sleeping pill. I don’t trust myself to go to bed at at night and wake up at 2 a.m. without a fight. I’ve been on this schedule for almost a month. Getting up at the crack of dawn doesn’t get any easier. It’s tough. I took a nap today when I got home, which was around 1:30 p.m. It was glorious. I woke up from my 30 minute nap wanting more. I wanted to sleep longer. I didn’t want to suffer the consequences later, so I pulled myself up and when to the Walgreens. I have to make myself be productive when I get off of work. I’d rather just lay around and sleep, but there is things that need to be done. Like washing clothes, making sure my apartment is clean and doing fun things so it doesn’t feel like all I do is eat, sleep and work.

That’s what it seems like anyway. I commend all of the #amnewsers out there.

I feel like I’m losing my balance. I feel like I’m stuck. I need to get out of this rut. I need to find balance. I’m working on that. I realize this in my life and I’m working to overcome this battle. I know that this is only temporary, not permanent.

My birthday is on Monday. I will be 25 years old. This is shocking. 25. WOW.  I can’t beleive it. I will officially be labeled mid-twenties. I don’t have any plans for Monday. This weekend my dear friend from graduate school is coming to visit me. I’m so excited. I hope the weather is nice so we can do fun things like the Rosinni Festival and go to a winery. I cant wait to hangout like the good ol’ days when we were students. It was almost a year ago. That is also hard to believe.

I think I may have onset carpel tunnel syndrome. I can remember taking typing class in middle school. I dreaded it at first. But boy, am I glad I took the course . I know there are some people out there that can’t type. That’s shocking. Why are you grown and still pecking at your keyboard? Get it together. I totally disregard the first rule of typing, keep your wrists raised. I type with my wrist lowered, which would explain why they sound like popcorn when I move them up and down. My toes do the same thing. I blame that on dance, though.

I miss dancing. I miss performing.

I have to plan activities for My friend and I to do when she comes. That’s another thing to add to my never-ending “to do list.”

This has been a long 15 minutes. I typed a lot. I had a lot to say. I think this is a good exercise to clear your brain. I had a lot going on up there, from work to personal life. This helps me let my juices flow. I want to do this more often. I feel like there is always something going on up there. Always.

I am watching a story on the news about the co-founder of a local non-profit who passed away last night. Her name was Ellen Turner. She and her twins sister Helen founded The Love Kitchen. They served meals to the homeless and homebound of Knoxville. I’ve never met them, but just hearing their story brings tears to my eyes. I can’t imagine how the other sister feels. They’re 87 years old. That

First post

Here we go.

I had every intention to start a blog on January 1, 2015. It was a start of the new year. A chance for me to begin writing my thoughts, dreams, goals and possibly rants in a space that I created.

I failed.

But not entirely.

Why wait for the start of a new year to begin a project or idea?

That’s what I asked myself.

That brought me back to this space.

It’s a place where my professional and personal ideas, thoughts and products collide. I mean after all, that is what makes me, me.

So, here we go.

My first (of many) blog posts is complete.