Monday, 12 August 2013

Secret Garden Party 2013: Thursday and Friday

It's time to blog about the Secret Garden Party, before I forget the festival completely. Already it's hard to remember specifics, the weekend has become a beautiful blur of sparkly things, sunlight, wedding dresses, cider, feathers, mud, dancing on haystacks and moving through a crowd of deformed goblins.

I think I lost my head a little bit, but not in a worrying way, I knew I'd get it back once the festival was over. Anyway, you don't need your head for SGP- you just need glitter and a tent.

I can't even remember what we did on the first day of the festival... TC and I were dreading getting a tube, a train and then a taxi with all our bags, but it turned out to be a very smooth journey, not just because we cracked open the lager at 11am, but because we were slightly ahead of the masses. Our train wasn't full, we didn't have to wait for a taxi and when we arrived at the festival, there was hardly a queue to get in.

Once everybody else arrived, we put our tents up in a circle, erecting a huge tepee in the middle that would be our 'communal space'. 'The Tepee' sounds like a real SGP stage name- like The Drop, The Pagoda or The Crossroads- and actually, on Sunday night, The Tepee turned out to be the best stage in the whole festival, staying up and raving long after The Great Stage had finished...

But that was the last night of the festival. On the first night of the festival we, erm. Hold on.

No, I can't remember.

All I know is, I wore my hair in a fishtail plait, because Candy*- one of TC and OJ's friends who I've met a few times now and who likes my blog (SMUG FACE)- said that she'd read on here how I'd spent my last, lonely days in Paris practicing fishtail plaits in the mirror.

It paid off by the way- I wore that plait for two days and when I finally took it out, my hair didn't need washing and it was all big and crimped. Anyone who thought that my last few days in Paris would have been better spent out and about, visiting things and enjoying the city, has been proved wrong, very wrong. Who needs the Louvre when you can do a fishtail plait? That is a skill for life and I am not being sarcastic.

I sense that you're getting bored with the whole fishtail plait thing, so I'll move on...

There was definitely hoola-hooping on Thursday night, other than that I have no idea what happened. We spent a lot of time dancing in The Drop, which was a DJ booth and dancing space hemmed in by tall haystacks. We didn't have a mad night, as there were still three days of raving to come.

What I love about festivals is, no matter what time you go to bed, you wake up quite early and are forced to get outdoors and socialise: no time is wasted lying in bed feeling like death.

I did however, upon waking, have a small paranoid panic and had to hide in my tent for a while, looking at the entrance but not knowing how I could ever unzip it, because I wasn't sure what was awaiting me on the other side...

What if nobody was there and I had to go back into my tent, but somebody was awake and heard the whole embarrassing thing? What if it was someone who I hadn't really spoken to before? But what if they didn't want to speak to me for Some Reason? What if they didn't realise I was in the same group?

In the end I needed a wee and so was forced out of the tent.

There were a couple of people up who I'd spoken to at length and so like the new girl at school who's mother has told her to make an effort- "Get involved! Join a team or something! Start taking some bloody initiative!"- I joined them on a mission to get tea and sausage sandwiches.

In the end we didn't get sausage sandwiches, because the girl serving them had clearly been up all night ingesting all kinds of chemical fun, meaning she couldn't take orders or make drinks properly, so we had to find somewhere else to eat and they didn't do sausage sandwiches. We found somewhere else, where the staff were bright-eyed, bushy-tailed and serving organic bacon and eggs on focaccia rolls. (The food stalls at SGP are a world away from the bog-standard burger vans you get at some festivals.)

The weather was gorgeous and after breakfast we went for a swim in the lake. For anyone who's never been to SGP, the site is built around a lake. There's a bridge going across it, but you can also hire a rowing boat or be punted across (the festival is close to Cambridge, famous for its 'punting') to the stage  in the middle, which this year was a pirate ship being devoured by a sea monster. (The last time I went three years ago, it was a giant flying machine.)

We didn't however, swim in this lake, because this year they'd built a brand new swimming lake. The water was freezing but it soon warmed up, once we dunked our shoulders in. People were sunbathing around the edge of the lake and it felt so quaint, like an old man looking back with rose-tinted glasses on the jolly English countryside of his youth, except in his visions I doubt everyone was drunk and covered in glitter.

I've just remembered, me and Shaz** saw two girls washing their hair in the lake with shampoo. How disgusting. We definitely took the moral high ground and even debated marching (very slowly and with a lot of effort, as we were chest-deep in water) over and telling them off. If people put shampoo in the water, the swimming lake would soon get all scuzzy and scummed-up...

On our way back to the tent we nipped into the 'natural showers' which were basically hose pipes trickling cold water. There was no queue for them and as it was such a hot day, the coldness wasn't unpleasant. Secret Garden Party is definitely the most luxurious festival I've ever been to. (If you think a cold hose pipe doesn't sound very luxurious, you should try going to Leeds festival, where people leave little poos outside your tent and the toilets drop down into an open cesspit.)

After my surprise shower (I'd planned on staying dirty and unwashed all weekend) I got ready for the day's festivities. I wore a sequined butterfly top that I bought from a vintage shop in Paris a couple of years ago and was really in love with until I saw the exact same top hanging in Clare's wardrobe... Vintage mon cul.

Throughout the day, I saw five or six girls wearing the exact same top as me- no exaggeration. I went up to most of them, complimenting them on their choice of top and then asking them if they got it from a vintage shop and then pointing out how we'd both had the wool pulled over our eyes. Actually... I was so fucked, there's a strong possibility that there was just one girl in the same top as me, who I saw and harassed six times.

Friday night was the night things got a little magical. At one point we were stood on a hill, looking down at The Great Stage and everything in my vision was multicoloured and sparkly and I felt like I was in some old, faded footage of Woodstock Festival, in a documentary about The Summer of Love.

It's really bad, but I can't remember who we were watching. Somehow at SGP, all thoughts of DJs and bands dance away out of the back of my head and I find myself drifting around, drawn to any beat I can dance to.

The only person I really wanted to see was LV, who wasn't in the programme. At one point they announced on stage that LV would be performing there the following day, but the following day I couldn't remember what stage they'd announced it at.

Anyway, on Friday night we all went a little crazy. We danced on The Pagoda, a dance music stage built out into the lake, for hours and only left because there are no toilets there and once you leave, you have to queue to get back in. One of OJ's best men, who was wearing a huge Native American headdress, climbed into somebody's rowing boat that was moving past The Pagoda. I remember seeing him on the other side of the lake, sat at the stern of the boat like an Indian Chief.

Later on his girlfriend arrived, also wearing a huge feathery headdress. I suddenly noticed that everybody in our group was either chatting nonsense to each other and giggling, or else they were dancing in a little space of their own and I had the vague notion that we should be meeting someone somewhere, but we were all too mashed to do anything. I looked to the girl in the white, feathery headdress and asked her to take charge... so we all stomped around following the big white headdress.

We were pretty good at sticking together over the weekend, but there was always somebody who wandered off and got lost. Also, we needed one person to step up and be the leader at ALL TIMES, to stop us from wandering around, laughing and talking to people in strange costumes.

Friday night is coming back to me in flashes.

The Pagoda, photo taken from the Secret Garden Party Facebook page
We were on The Pagoda as the sun was setting, I made friends with a really nice couple who reminded me of TC and OJ. I made them come over and dance with us. I only remembered that couple earlier on today and burst out laughing, because they were nothing like TC and OJ at all, I was just really, really fucked and wanted EVERYBODY TO BE MY FRIEND.

After dancing on the lake at dusk, we left the safety of The Pagoda and went out into the darkness. There were goblins and people with deformed limbs and crazy out of proportion shoulders. (I kept seeing them throughout the rest of the festival and freaking out and in fact, when I was in Stockport with my gran last week I saw them again, walking through the bus station, but that could just be Stockport.)

I can't believe I've written so much and I've only covered Thursday and Friday... I'll leave it there for now, with an LV track thrown in for good measure:

*Are my nicknames for people becoming more and more ridiculous? One day 'Candy' was putting on a bright pink lipstick called Candy Yum Yum and we said that it should be her Left Bank Manc nickname... I can't just go around calling people by their actual names because, unlike me, they have Real Jobs and Reputations to maintain. I'm not just being paranoid either- both B and Kayt have had people ask them if they are in my blog, so it's time I started using more inventive nicknames. Also, if I start giving everyone names like Candy Yum Yum, my blog will read like a magical children's story, which is how I secretly see my life, apart from the binge drinking and slagging about.

**Another code name for one of TC and OJ's friends who I've met a few times before. I'm going to stop mentioning people by name, because I'm beginning to sound like a fantasist making up stories about her ridiculously-named imaginary friends.


  1. Hey there! Great post! You have got me so excited about SGP next week! Can I just ask you a question? It's my first year this year. I'm travelling via coach on my own down from Manchester and meeting my friends who are coaching up from Bristol. What are the queues like getting in? Are they super hectic? Is it worth us getting through the queues and finding each other on the inside or is it ok to find each other on the outside and queue together? Cheeeers! Madz x

    1. Hi thanks for commenting- you're going to have such a good time at SGP! The queues can be sooooo long, I would recommend meeting your friends beforehand rather than queue up for potentially hours on your own. Although... when I went last year I got there early, got in really quickly with my friend and waited inside the festival for everyone, see what it's like when you get there. Have fun!