For as long as humans have been getting gacked in a field while listening to bass-heavy music, we’ve also been facing the greatest of all festival foes—taking a shit. Music festivals can be beautiful places but their toilets are consistently diabolical. No matter who you are, or how organized you were before you left home, there is no escaping the unsettling warmth and stench that emanates from these soulless evil places when you finally surrender to your colon. Eventually, it will happen, because nothing makes you poop like a combination of drugs, beer, food vans, and dancing. The cruel irony is that apart for the bowel trembling state of the toilets, festivals are made for giving butt birth.
But what if the brown beast could be tamed? Our ancestors were all about dropping a load in nature, but somewhere between losing our the need for an appendix, and gaining our inability to not order a 12 dollar taco, something about squatting has ceased to sit right. Perhaps this is the next evolutionary step? Toilet time has become a sacred ritual. It’s now a private, delicate world that should never be sullied by a compost sewage system. So, given that it’s 2014 and thousands of people want to know, here’s our guide to fighting your body’s most natural urge, compacting your intestines, and clenching like you’ve never clenched before.
CONSTIPATION IS THE GOAL
Life is an eternal struggle between constipation and diarrhea. You will spend 99 percent of your existence searching for the comfortable middle point between the two—except for now. Avoiding the indignities of a festival portaloo hinges completely on inducing a dump-free state and avoiding the runs.
By the time you reach adulthood you should know the basics of how to not to get the green apple splats: don’t leave your food in the sun, go easy on the dairy, and basically don’t eat anything that’s too delicious to be true. Constipation is trickier. We called several gastroenterologists to get a medical breakdown on how to break your BMs down. Perhaps not surprisingly they all declined to talk to us. When we finally did track down a doctor to explain how to bridle the tempestuous mistress that is your large intestine, they asked to be given a fake name.
“All your body wants to do is shit—it fucking loves it,” says Dr. Shitvago. “Bowel movements not only expel food waste, they also get rid of old cells and intestinal lining.” We took this as tacit disapproval of our thesis but continued to press on until we finally got the goods: “In a healthy person constipation is usually caused by diet and stress.”
Given you’re grossed out enough by your own body to be reading this article, we figure “stress” is already a given. With that in mind, your primary weapon in the war against your bowels is food.
POOP = FOOD x TIME
Try to eat as little as possible. Considering you’ll most likely be sweating MDMA that shouldn’t be too much of an issue. If you do have to consume something, stay away from all dairy, foods that are high in fiber (pretty much all fruit and vegetables), and stick to what’s called a “low-residue diet”. Doctors advise LRDs to patients with things like a partial bowel obstruction. Considering you have shame, fear of bad smells, and a whole festival obstructing your bowel it should suit you just fine. Sticking to refined bread and cereals like pasta and Wonder White, mashed potato, bananas, eggs, mince, and hard lollies will keep you alive while producing minimum waste. In short, eat like the depressive grown-up baby you are.
THE THREAT OF AGB
Partying with minimal food isn’t too hard, the trickier part is controlling your intake of water. Dr Shitvago says hydration is what makes for “soft fecal formation”, without which the waste in your bowel is going to struggle to go anywhere. The downside of limiting your water intake is that you’ll risk dehydration, which is way more inconvenient than going number 2 in an unfamiliar place. We recommend you drink water as you need it, but avoid caffeinated drinks. Caffeine stimulates the bowel reducing the passage time, this means your large intestine has less time to absorb water. Whatever you do, don’t have a coffee.
The second wave of bad news: after coffee, a duce’s best mate is beer. The body sees all alcohol as a poison and will do whatever it can to expel it—hence all the peeing—but beer is especially tricky. The low alcohol content means you tend to drink more and have more fluid in you, to begin with. Beer also contains a lot of soluble fibre as it’s mostly made from barley or wheat—it’s not that different from chugging a six pack of Metamucil. The added presence of yeast can also have a laxative effect.
With beer and coffee off the menu, you’ll have to find a new alternative. Although alcohol, in general, can interfere with gut flora and bacteria, spirits have a lessened effect. Drink them straight or stick to water as a mixer.
DRUGS THAT PLUG
As with coffee, amphetamines also speed up the dookie train, so consider skipping the pills too. If you have to take drugs your best bet are opiates. In fact, the most direct shortcut to backing yourself up is taking codeine. If you’re really serious about pressing pause on your entire digestive system, why not indulge in a little spirit mixed with cough syrup—or as it’s called in certain circles—”lean”. Except don’t because you might do a Pimp C and die in your sleep.
THE HOLISTIC APPROACH
If the advice above is feeling a little mundane and you’re looking for a zanier, more holistic approach, why not try and utilise some of your bodies natural responses to help you out. As previously mentioned, stress and constipation go hand in hand. From an evolutionary viewpoint, humans need to feel safe before dropping the kids at the pool. Think about your ancestors hanging out in caves, they weren’t going to squat in a bush for five minutes if they thought there was a threat around. Thousands of years later, you can’t go if someone knocks on the door.
Try focusing on how incredibly uncomfortable you are, how far away you are from a hospital, all the people who are probably talking about you behind your back, or the reality that deep down your parents are disappointed in you and would be facing their retirement in a much better financial position if you hadn’t been born.
If you still feel the urge to go after that, just ignore it. When you resist the urge to bomb the bowl, your colon continues to absorb water, hardening said poop and making it increasingly harder to push out. Now, creating your own fecal buttplug isn’t a best case scenario but it is an effective option. We do warn that keeping a dookie in too long can lean to malaise, headaches, nausea, and bloating. In extreme cases, it can make you confused or delirious. The absolute worst case scenario is the aforementioned buttplug or fecal impaction forming a solid fecal plug in the rectum. If this happens you can look forward to an overflow diarrhea or incontinence, which kind of defeats the whole point of this endeavor. Heads up: severe constipation can lead to the bowel becoming obstructed or even distending to the point of rupturing, which is super serious and lame.
Let’s skip forward a couple of days. You and your butthole have made it through the festival unsullied and it’s time to get things moving again. Be careful of straining while trying to back one out, it’s a sure fire way to get hemorrhoids. Instead, just reintroduce all the things you’ve been avoiding all week. Beer and coffee are popular treatments, but maintaining good hydration, exercise, and gentle laxatives can also help. In extreme circumstances, enemas or manual disimpaction may be needed.
Incase you’re wondering, manual disimpaction involves a trained, experienced healthcare professional—wearing several pairs of gloves—manually removing a fecal plug from the rectum. When we asked how our anonymous doctor would feel if he had to shove his hand up the bum of an otherwise healthy festival goers he warned, “I wouldn’t go easy on the fingers.”
So if you’re ready to deal with nausea, cramps, bloating, incontinence, hemorrhoids, fecal impaction, distended bowels, and a stranger’s hand up your ass then yes, it is possible to make it through a festival without turtling. Although if that sounds okay to you, you probably have bigger problems than a composting toilet.