Finding love at music festivals just got way easier, thanks to a new Tinder feature that lets you match with potential festival flings weeks before you even secure that plastic wristband. Launched on May 1 (just in time for festival season) and inspired by a spike in Tinder usage at large events, Festival Mode is likely going to be used all summer long by music fans hoping to hook up while attending popular events like Lollapalooza and Ultra.
To use the feature, Tinder users have to match with the Festival Mode card, and then they can choose to add 12 event-specific festival badges, ranging from New York's Governors Ball to Tennessee's Bonnaroo, to their profiles that'll indicate which festivals they plan to attend. After that, users who are set to attend the same events can match with each other and chat beforehand. Access to specific badges is available approximately three weeks before each festival's start date.
However, Tinder doesn't require you to verify you're going to a festival before adding a badge, so you don't actually have to be attending each festival to see who else is going. So in theory, you could use Festival Mode to eye all your potential hookups before splurging for a three-day pass, or take a more innocent look to simply see if you happen to know anyone attending as well.
Festival Mode is a follow up to Tinder's Spring Break Mode, which launched earlier in 2019 and allows Tinder U users to find matches in their planned spring break destinations, from Cabo to New Orleans to Puerto Vallarta. The new feature is also reminiscent of Tinder Passport, which allows users to change their location (ostensibly before a big trip) and match with people across the world. All three of these options speak to our ongoing desire to connect with strangers across the world who might have similar interests, whether it be for romance, hookups, or friendship.
There are some potential downsides to a platform like Festival Mode, though. For one thing, as Alex Zaragoza at VICE points out, "Having sex at music festivals is a terrible idea" for health reasons, considering the amount of drugs, alcohol, and general griminess that rule festivals.
More pressing, though, is sexual harassment, which is disturbingly high at music festivals, with a 2018 study by Our Music My Body reporting over 90% of female concertgoers experiencing harassment and assault on a large scale, even despite the fact that assaults often go unreported in a festival setting. Through a feature like Festival Mode, potential predators could learn who might be vulnerable under the influence of sun, music and more weeks in advance of a festival — and find out their location and other identifying details.
Festival Mode most certainly has its perks, but like all apps focused on connecting users with each other, it clearly has a potential for misuse that shouldn't be ignored. Here's to hoping Tinder and the festivals they collaborate with will take the requisite precautions and make plans to work together to increase safety measures for women, as well.