I Tried Using Tinder’s Festival Mode At Splendour To Get A Date & It Actually Worked
There’s no denying it anymore: I am a dating app fiend. I’ve seen it all, I’ve heard it all, I’ve accepted it all. I thought I had basically done it all until a new opportunity presented itself to me this year: Tinder’s Festival Mode.
Now for some background, I have been on and off Tinder for 10 years. 10 WHOLE YEARS. My relationship with Tinder is the longest one I’ve ever had — people should be buying me anniversary presents. Now that I’m in my early 30s, I spend a lot of time throwing money at people for getting engaged, getting married, and/or having babies. Yet, no one is offering to sling $100 my way for remaining loyal to a dating app for so long?!
Make it make sense.
For context, I did spend four years off the apps when I was in a relationship, but since 2017, I’ve been on and off again and have technically stayed with Tinder longer than some of the marriages I see happening around me. That has to count for something, right?!
But, I digress. As one Instagram friend put on her Stories over the Splendour weekend, there are two types of millennials: the ones at Splendour and the ones who stayed at home to play board games. She was the latter, I was the former. But I was a millennial on a mission, a mission bigger than just trying to get on a shuttle bus home at midnight covered in mud.
The hypothesis: Can a single gal go to a three-day festival, using Tinder’s Festival Mode, and have a successful date?
Come with me on this journey.
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I had been swiping through Tinder’s Festival Mode for a good week before descending on Byron, filled with a new chaotic energy after a month-long sobriety stint and dating hiatus. I am based in Sydney and had spent much of winter in hibernation, staying as far away as possible from the constant La Niña downpour and various virus strains spreading like wildfire.
Swiping from the comfort of my Sydney apartment, dressed to the nines in my Nutella Oodie, things weren’t looking too hot crash when I ran out of matches on Festival Mode. I was probably trying to find my perfect match a little too early in the game.
Ultimately, deep down, I am a bit of a type A personality: I’m fairly chill in most areas of life but I like to have a structured plan for my days. My theory was if I matched with someone, spent a couple of days chatting, and then organised to meet them at the festival, I’d be able to structure them into my day accordingly. Who said dating wasn’t romantic?
The problem with being structured is when you’re at a festival that’s fallen victim to wild weather warnings, all plans go out the window — such as day one of Splendour. We soon learned that day, we were absolutely not going to make it to the grounds, meaning I was going to miss the performance of the one man I desperately did want to see this whole time: Yungblud.
Which is how I ended up at a media party, drinking Prosecco, wearing a Tinder bum bag and playing with the idea that maybe I’d meet someone here — IRL, but also with thanks to Tinder because of my getup. It was a great convo starter, but there seemed to not be many single men there. Or at least, not any that wanted to approach someone wearing a bright green shirt and silver fanny pack.
Not all was lost, however. At some point during the night, Australian Idol royalty Ian ‘Dicko’ Dickson descended on the party much to the thrill of myself and my friend, and we quickly got a photo with him. “You know Matt Corby is right over there?” Dicko said. We did not care. We were rubbing shoulders with celebrities (Dicko, obviously) at this point, and we were only one day in.
my friend and I were quite excited to get a photo with Dicko at a party last night and he was a bit baffled and was like "you know Matt Corby is right over there"
— Tahlia Pritchard (@Tahls) July 23, 2022
We called it at a respectable 8pm and went home: there were two days to go after all and my Tinder wasn’t going to swipe itself. I needed a kebab, and I needed a solid hour lounging in bed, trying to find the man of my dreams.
Upon waking up the next day, Dicko was all but a distant memory. But in good news, I had successfully gathered some Tinder matches, chatting idly with a few about plans for the day, whether they were braving the mud-fest that was Splendour, and who they were excited to see.
One Tinder match stood out from the others, and we chatted briefly about our lil hangovers, whether we could get a party nap in (separately that is, not together, Mum, if you’re reading this!!), and exchanged numbers after realising we’d both be in the gold bar area of the festival.
Bravely, after a coconut margarita up the road, my mate and I headed into Splendour in all our gumboot glory, wading through the mud straight to the gold bar.
Now this is where the journey to finding love (or at least finding your Tinder match) becomes murkier than the grounds of Splendour. Have you ever tried finding a mate at a festival? Exactly. It’s hard work: between service dropping in and out, crowds of people, and throw in the fact you’re looking for the face of someone you’ve technically never met before, you’re in for a journey.
But I am not one to be swayed by difficult circumstances: if that were the case, I would not be dating straight men for one.
As some point, my mate and I decided we had to call it and attempt the bus ride home before things got too hectic, which was maybe the best decision we made all night: we managed to get through the bus line in about an hour which seemed to be record timing considering a lot of people got stranded until the early hours of the morning.
Plus, being on the bus back to Byron meant I had reception again and not all was lost with my Tinder match: I can’t say I am one to usually go on a spontaneous midnight date but when in Rome (Byron), and when you remember you’re out of Sydney and a pub will actually let you in past midnight, you can actually just… meet up with your Tinder match. Just like that!
So I took my just-ordered Dominos home, grabbed a slice, changed out of my muddy boots, and hit the road to walk back to the pub and have a drink with my Tinder match.
Admittedly, for someone who writes about dating, I have never been an overly spontaneous dater but there’s something about holiday romance that just naturally pushes you out of your comfort zone. Most of the time dating in Sydney, convos fizzle fast, and then I have no desire to meet up with someone who hasn’t tried harder to have a chat before suggesting a meet-up. Plus, throw in the risk factor of being a woman, you do question if meeting up with a stranger in the middle of the night — in a town you don’t know — is the best idea you’ve ever had or not. But I had risk-assessed the situation, my friend knew what I was doing, and the man in question didn’t give off serial killer vibes.
The date itself was actually a great time. In my experience, the beauty of meeting up with someone while at a festival or on holiday is that it’s always going to be a more fun/chilled vibe. You’re not going in with any preconceived notions of what the date means, or wondering what their five-year plan is and if it’s compatible with yours.
Dating in your 30s can usually be hard for that exact reason: if I go on one more date in Sydney where the guy yells at me that he doesn’t want children before I even find out his beverage of choice, I will lose my goddamn mind. Sir, I don’t even know if I want a second drink! I frankly don’t care that you don’t want to impregnate me! I’d prefer you didn’t either, I haven’t even figured out if our last names could be hyphenated yet because I don’t know anything about you!
But using Festival Mode in Byron to meet up with a match after a day in the mud and just have an enjoyable chat, a wine, and a flirt? Honestly, I recommend it, unless you hate having fun.
After saying our goodbyes, my date and I were embarking on very different journeys: he had to go back up and actually perform at the festival, and I had to go home and finally eat my whole pizza before debating if I could face day three of the mud, music, and ultimately the chaos of getting home.
Now to answer the burning question, the thought on everyone’s mind: did Tinder’s Festival Mode lead me to love? Am I now destined for an interstate romance? Will this be a beautiful story to tell at our wedding?
I’m just kidding, sorry to this man if you’re reading this.
The overall recommendation I have for singles out there is if you’re heading to a festival, you should absolutely give Festival Mode a go. I’m not going to lie, I was slightly skeptical if I’d actually go on a normal, successful date but I am living proof that it works. Plus, you’ve got the added benefit of knowing you’re swiping on people that you probably have at least one thing in common with, given you’re at the same festival and seeing the same bands. If you’re like me and love to bond over music, it’s an immediate win.
Now, I’m not sure if my date will say the same about me being a normal, successful date after I told him I was writing a whole article about being on Tinder, but I’d also like to shout out to him for being a great sport.
And to all my fellow emo kids out there, maybe I’ll see you on Festival Mode later this year for Good Things.