Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Secret Garden Party 2013: Saturday and Sunday

The rain came on Saturday and I was secretly pleased- the hot, humid air hanging over the festival needed washing away. Also, I'd carried my new wellies all the way from France and I wanted to wear them. (In the end I went to New Look at Chatelet, the only shop in Paris with a 'festival section'.)

Although people dress up every day at SGP, Saturday is the official fancy dress day, the day that everyone saves their best costume for. In honour of TC and OJ's recent wedding, all the boys dressed as brides and the girls dressed as grooms. The boys kept their wedding dresses Top Secret until the day, guarding the secrecy surrounding their dresses much like a real bride on her wedding day. There were even rumours flying around about the dresses... I heard he had to carry it in three bin bags... He got it from a woman at work, it's her actual wedding dress and now she's divorced...

The boys changed into their fabled wedding dress and then the girls spent twice as long getting ready, helping the boys with their make-up as well as doing our own. Even though I think us girls looked sharp and groomsman-like in our top hats, sequined shorts and tailcoats, the boys did pull focus just a little. I underestimated just how striking ten men in wedding dresses- two of them pregnant- would be, even at Secret Garden Party. They were even picked out of the crowd to take part in the Dance Off:

Oh and just after the brides had their dance off, a girl got on stage and proposed to her boyfriend. At first she pretended to do Spoken Word and she was so bad that people started booing her, but it was all a ruse to get her boyfriend on stage... and she asked him to marry her! He said yes and everybody in the crowd jumped under the ropes onto the stage and had a Mass Hug. 

I know it looks sunny in the video, but by the end of the night, the boys were trailing brown, muddy lumps of wedding dress. 

On Saturday the festival was a lot busier. There were suddenly long queues for the toilets and the swimming lake was fenced off, security guards letting just forty people in at a time, apparently due to the fact that people had started diving in and hurting themselves. (Personally I blame those two girls with the shampoo I mentioned in the previous blog post.) After keeping it together so well for two days, bigger crowds meant that the group finally got separated.

Our group got smaller and smaller, until I found myself with just Shaz* and her boyfriend. We sheltered from the rain in a bar-tent filled with silky cushions and they bought me a cup of tea. They told me the next day that they'd felt really bad for me, because at that point their brains were melting into the space time continuum, but I honestly didn't notice, I just sipped my tea and people-watched, happy as a clam on mild hallucinogenics.

Shaz and her boyfriend wanted to go back to the tent so they could put dry clothes and wellies on, but I had already been back to the tents and changed into my wellies... I wanted to dance. I told Shaz and her boyfriend I'd go to The Drop, because that was where we'd all agreed to meet if we got lost. I told them not to worry, if I couldn't find everybody else then I'd climb up to the highest haystack so they could find me when they got back from the tent.

Sometimes, when I'm less than sober, I like having a sneaky mission that I can carry out on my own. Often I will envision fighting off rapists and muggers with my untapped super-human strength. Thank god I was wondering round Secret Garden Party and not the streets of Manchester, because I definitely don't have super-human strength and I am definitely the opposite of 'untapped'.

I got to The Drop and all my wild optimism dropped out of me. There were a lot of people and I couldn't see anyone I knew anywhere. I climbed up the haystacks until I had a good view of the arena-like space. Still, there was nobody I knew. I started dancing and resigned myself to spending the rest of the night alone. Shaz and her boyfriend would never find me. I turned to the girl next to me, who looked quite sober.

"Excuse me, have you see ten men dressed as brides?"

She frowned as if I was talking nonsense and said sorry, she hadn't. Then, ten seconds later, she nudged me and said, "Is that them, there?"

She'd spotted them! She pointed to a mass of white in the middle of the arena so I thanked her (a bit too much, perhaps) and made my way to the ten brides, although by now there was about six brides, and seven grooms. 

I'm not sure how, but by and by the rest of the group came back to us. We watched Chase and Status in the rain and they were actually really good. After that, it all gets a bit hazy. I can't remember if that was the night me and TC stayed up, creeping around the tents giggling, until two people we didn't know came into the tepee and said it was their tepee and we realised people must have been squatting in The Tepee and we knew it was time for bed... or if that was the night we decided not to go to bed and instead went to the lake for an early-morning swim, then we got food.

I think it was that night. As I was eating my chilli burrito on a haystack, I noticed that everybody around me looked really weird and a bit deformed. I felt quite sinister so I went to bed...

When I woke up a few hours later, I didn't know what to do. I felt like I was walking through a dark cloud and everybody was suspicious. I went to the toilet and gave everyone shifty, sideways glances as I walked past. When I got back to my tent, I just lay face-down in my sleeping bag, crying my heart out.

In hindsight, I think a lack of sleep and food was to blame. Also the alcohol. Also, I had just moved back to England after living in Paris for three years and I didn't know how I felt about it or what I was going to do next. 

(No, seriously- I didn't even know how I was going to get home. My mum was staying in Cambridge for the Folk Festival and her friend's sixteen year old daughter Edie was also at SGP with her friends. Her dad had said he could pick us both up and take us to their house in Cambridge, where my mum was staying. Perfect... except my phone was out of battery and I couldn't get hold of Edie on TC's phone. Edie's was the only number I'd saved on her phone so I couldn't call anyone else.)

After some crying- which made me feel a lot better, there's nothing I enjoy more than weeping hysterically for No Reason, it feels so cathartic- I emerged sheepishly from my tent. Candy* was awake and sitting in the mouth of her tent putting make-up on, chatting to a small group, so I sidled over and soon we were playing the Word Association Game and it pulled me back from the brink.

Later on, when I was dancing and everything was funny and the music was great... I couldn't believe how sinister I'd felt earlier on. 

It's not normal, is it?

But it's ok, because I always pull it back. I think Sunday was my favourite day. We danced in The Drop for hours and hours and hours, we saw 2ManyDJs, TEED and Disclosure, then I bumped into Harriet- as in my first Paris au pair friend! 

On Sunday, SGP always finishes early, as they don't have a late license, something to do with noise I think. We headed back to The Tepee for a rave, but I didn't think we'd actually rave, I thought we'd sit off, chatting for a bit and being chilled out.

I've got an image of everyone's faces around the tent pole in the middle and The Tepee is warping and growing behind them and we're all smiling and dancing and it went on for hours and hours and hours. At one point I needed a wee and decided to go on my own. I thought it would be an adventure, one of my secret missions and it was... because I got lost for what seemed like hours, wandering around quiet tents in the dark. I kept hearing footsteps behind me and there was nobody there. I didn't even go to the toilets I normally went to, they were completely different loos. It was so weird.

Eventually I saw a tepee lit up in the distance, but when I got there I heard posh voices inside, chatting. There was no music. Heartbroken, I turned away and walked back into the darkness. Eventually, I found The Tepee. Everybody was waiting outside, about to embark on a Rescue Mission. Either that, or they were just having a fag and hadn't noticed I'd gone missing.

Argh it was so much fun. When I finally went to bed, I'd decided with TC and OJ that I'd leave the festival with them, then contact my mum from their house to let her know where I was, but in the morning, TC came into my tent with her phone- Edie was calling and she said her dad was picking her up from the East Entrance in forty minutes.

I packed up my things and said a hasty goodbye to the few people who were up. As I dragged my case across the campsite, people kept looking at me and I thought it was because I must look really good in a bedraggled, edgy kind of way... When I finally got to a mirror I realised it was because my face was bright red with sunburn and I had a coldsore. Ignorance is bliss.

I can't believe I almost didn't go to the Secret Garden Party this year, I know it sounds like I went a bit sinister but that was only for a couple of hours. It was four days of intense fun, it really is a party like no other. 

Oh I've just remembered! The fireworks on Saturday night were amazing, when they set fire to the ship in the middle of the lake:

Photo from the Secret Garden Party Facebook page.

*Remember, I've given everyone made-up names, just because I can.


  1. Looks like a fantastic partylishish weekend! Impressive fireworks toooooo :)
    -Katie Citizen Images

    1. It was amazing! I'm on an old computer and it won't let me put links in my post, but google the Secret Garden Party for more photos and information.

    2. WIll do :) hope you're well!