This is my first year without the Secret Garden Party.
2009 - the year they put the Tower Of Babel in the middle of the lake
We decided unanimously last year we weren't going to go back. Successive years were failing to top legendary previous ones. The place felt more corporate, the festival-goers more bothered about being trend-setters than fun-seekers. There was more theft, meaning heavy (and often quite scary) security. It wasn't a garden anymore. Well, it was...... just a slightly less magical one for us.
2008 - my first year. Shark mouth main stage. So exciting.
Beat-Herder has none of the elaborate, quirky touches of the SGP - it's just a massive rave in an extremely beautiful place. And it would have been the perfect replacement if it hadn't been for the swamp. It got to a point on the Sunday (after it took my friend and I ten minutes to walk the twenty yards down the boggy hill to the main stage, clinging to each other the whole way) where Dunkirk spirit floundered in the face of just wanting to be clean, and not have to walk for hours to get to a loo, of wanting dry feet and to drink or eat something that didn't have the crusty tang of Lancashire mud.
Yes we're having fun, but this is the first night and look at our LEGS
It's partly the summer we're having, but I suspect it's also because I'm getting OLD.
I've toyed with the idea of Latitude(maybe I could go to a festival where people read the weekend papers in deck chairs and there's socialist comedy and lots of beards?), which quickly disipated upon getting home and realising how much it costs to go, and how much I would hate everyone there apart from myself. I started to think wistfully about how much better All Tomorrow's Parties was.... only it wasn't. Because, regardless of how good the music is, how lovely and dry the chalets are, how awesome the group you go with are.... 95% of the people who go to ATP are bloody boring bastards who can't dance and wouldn't know a good time if it dropped a glittery piano on their heads and played Happy Talk on it whilst simultaneously kicking them in the bollocks (they're all men, of course, if there were more women at ATP it would get better immediately).
Statistical fact: 50% of the girls at ATP are on the stage
We waded back to the car on the Monday morning after Beat-Herder, gloop slopping over the tops of our wellies, shouting to everyone "Croatia next year, yeah?". And maybe we will. Maybe abroad is the only answer remaining.
Where do you go to find the spirit of the festival without the whiff of corporate dollar? Where do you find a good time with friendly people without a heavy price tag? All this with good music AND civilised enough to not want to cry for your mother by Saturday afternoon? Is it even possible?
Lend me your thoughts!