1: Glastonbury Ethos
Is everybody sitting comfortably? I shall begin. This is a quick intro. Occasionally I shall reflect on music matters. Sometimes it is on the industry at large, artist attitudes, prejudices towards styles or longing for events. Glastonbury Festival is bound to be a common theme and so begins the first major article of Sub4Love (since its major launch last August)
You find me readers in amongst my mid-winter Glastonbury Festival pining phase. I go through this every winter when the rumours of the line up for the festival, due to start in 6 months or so, are rife; we hear no word from Worthy Farm; and I drink pear cider, close my eyes and fantasise of relaxing in the middle of the gentle bustle of people for possibly the only time in the year, relaxing. I’d be willing to bet that the clientele of Glastonbury are of 2 broad halves. Firstly, teenage and student revellers such as myself who are there for the greatest party of the year but unlike our Reading Leeds brothers and sisters would rather not destroy anything or drink to get drunk and be ill. No we hold a higher view, a more relaxed one and have a better time for it. The other half are middle aged parents of said people and although this is speculation I’d be willing to bet many of them are high powered city boys and girls who metamorphose into something their work colleagues could walk past the street and not notice. I’m not saying they strip all their clothes, start humming and praising the sun. However they become… well… human! I know this is the case for at least 3 people and judging by the population of the farm in June it would be fair to extrapolate this.
It is a beautiful thing. There is this implicit camaraderie and group spirit of fun and freedom. Everyone knows they are there to have fun and nothing will stop them. Unlike this time of year or at least the part we have just had of Christmas and New Year where you are forced to have fun whether you want to or not and the pressure to be happy and pleasant is so overwhelming we all fall out or just give up. It is not only at the polar opposite end of the year it is a totally polar approach and I tell you now it fucking works. It is this feeling, ether or even for lack of a better phrase X-factor or lack of it that leads Glastonbury to be the favourite place or even spiritual home of many. Some come for the music, some for the lay lines. Some come for the cider and some for the healing. Some come for the friends and some for the strangers. Even if they come for one they end up leaving with all of them. Not literally obviously – that would be a very full very smelly car ride home!
It is fair to say though that it is not for everyone. Some people are just not the festival types. Anyone who has been to a festival with a female is at least 90% likely to have discussed issues of toilets and showers beforehand and the male promise of “you will be fine without a shower” is met with “WHAT ABOUT MY HAIR” to which he says “no-one else’s hair is going to be any better and by day 2 no-one cares. Oh just take a hat” is often met with an unimpressed huff at best. Day 2 comes and the dry shampoo has been used and thrown away in frustration, flushable toilets have been located but ignored as the normal loos are not as bad as the reputation and suddenly all those worries don’t matter. Other than the hair conscious ladies there are other issues that apply to both. Some can’t handle camping (coincidentally I am one of these except at a festival), some can’t handle the walking, or handle the mud, or (in the case of one of my co-festival-cherry-poppers in 2008, doesn’t really like the live music thing!… yea I know). (Must say he did enjoy himself he just won’t be coming back). Then there is the weather and the hassle of logistics. For those who overcome the toilets, the wellies and the drugged up ex-mod at 3am there is a wealth of fun to had at a festival and not least Glastonbury.
People have often been captured by my enthusiasm for the festival and have promised to come as and when exams or work allow over the next few years. It is often seen as a rite of passage to go to a large festival post-GCSEs. A sort of ‘I’m my own person now so I’m gonna go get drunk, high and have sex in a field’ mentality. Not my approach I hasten to add, but then Reading wasn’t my first. Did I just say that!
For me Glastonbury is my spiritual home. Not in a hippy way but simply because of who I am. I am a liberally minded, music loving, fan of community and freedom of expression. Some who know me may accuse me of being a little more conscientious and precise than that would imply and that is true. I am about getting a job done but that doesn’t mean I don’t long for freedom and relaxation among kindred spirits and have the opportunity to do whatever I want for 5 days of the year. You will find if and when you ever go that there happen to be 180,000 others with you attitude too should you ever go. Whether you go to see Muse rock the Pyramid to the ground, see Deadmau5 dissolve the Dance Village or Billy Bragg et al rail against the man. Whether you go to get high, get drunk or both; whether you go with kids or your friends there is something for everyone and it will change your life. Whether you go once and never again or return every year like a pilgrimage it has touched millions of hearts over the years and here is to the ethos that maintains it. Bestival seems to be its spiritual daughter and hence where I am heading in 2012.
A rambling account of the ethos and feel of Worthy Farm there and unfortunately it is hard to articulate in words exactly how it is to be there except that it is truly special and touches the hearts of those that do forever. It is almost my last grip on a sense of decent human nature in Britain to be honest but that is a totally different debate.
I shall return intermittently with other articles on the weather obsession, the music more directly and other poetic notions to do with the festival all 3 Sub4Lovers truly love come rain, shine, mud or hippies.
Until next time – feel the vibes maaaaaaan