Leave it out, Tinder, nobody needs an app for gammy festival sex

There's no point wasting precious phone battery on such profound disappointment

This week Tinder announced the introduction of a shiny new feature called Festival Mode. The basic idea is that swipers can stick a badge on their profile to signify that they’ll be attending a music festival in up to three weeks time, in order to match with other people heading to the same muddy field. The reasoning is that there’s a clear demand for a dating app tailored to festivals: the company reports that registrations increased 36x around Lovebox, with a 25% surge taking place at Hyde Park’s British Summer Time. Tinder plans on rolling out Festival Mode to the likes of Parklife and Bonnaroo, along with non-camping festivals like All Points East. 

And honestly, some of it makes sense. Attend a day festival, and it’s likely that you’ll end up staying over at an actual weatherproofed building with a sturdy bed and running water afterwards: the ideal place to decamp to with the new love of your life. Organise your time effectively, and you might even be able to fit in a visit to Wetherspoons – a legitimate date – after the event curfew. But what about if you’re trapped in a cramped campsite? How in the name of Satan’s clammy scrotum is that going to work out for anybody involved?


The thing is, camping festivals are the very antithesis of sexiness. The call of the horn will always win out above all, but even so, why on earth do we need a bespoke feature on Tinder, geared towards helping horny music-lovers to enjoy Mediocre Sex and Disappointing Missionary Intercourse in a £10 pop-up tent bought from a major supermarket? Both of those things sound like potential names for a DIY punk band from Exeter, and frankly the line-up is the only place that these two things should feature in an enjoyable weekend.

If you genuinely relish the prospect of developing serious chafing and/or heat rash after rolling around in a sweltering hot tent with your new festival sex friend, then all power to you. Perhaps romance really can be mustered after three days without so much as a wet wipe shower – soundtracked by George Ezra soothingly crooning ‘Hold My Girl’ over on a distant festival stage and the unmistakable tinkle of a passing reveller urinating directly into your porch – but I highly doubt it.  Obviously people shag loads at camping festivals anyway, but you really do have to ask the question – why on earth would anybody want to invest spare time into trying to carefully choreograph such underwhelming events, weeks and weeks in advance?

Tinder isn’t just a hook-up app, of course – everyone knows a sickeningly adorable couple who met through the medium of the swipe – but there’s an added logistical issue that comes with the festival territory: namely, where on earth can you go on a wholesome date in a field filled with swaying jaws and jauntily dislodged flower crowns? Can you imagine what an awful waste it would be to match with Kristen Stewart’s doppelgänger, only to end up making painful small talk over the roar of an EDM set, before holding hands in one of those bars where you stick tubes supplying pure oxygen up your nostrils. Trying to rustle up breakfast in bed (well, sleeping bag) out of tinned spam and the free yogurts they’re handing out down by the Park Stage? It’s just not going to end well for anyone, is it?

If you’re looking for a cute date, or an earth-shattering awakening, don’t bother at festivals. You’d be far better off going somewhere less disgusting in the outside world and swiping to your hearts content there, safe in the knowledge that you’ll probably end up matching with someone who has washed within the last 72 hours.  

Plus if it all works out, you can smugly go to festivals as a couple in years to come, and snog each other’s grimey faces off throughout the whole headline act. At that point, you’ll be freely farting in front of each other anyway, so what’s a bit of PDA and shared poor hygiene between lovers? In other words: Save that precious phone battery, and leave things down to good old fashioned chance.