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Saturday, 26 July 2008

Secret Garden [P?]arty

Well it's not over yet, but I went down to Cambridgeshire to check out the Secret Garden Party, which, all told, was strangely very quiet and mis-organised.!? I went down on wednesday to help artist Will Parker set-up the video installation we had been working on. Will's exhibit consisted of a time delayed video feed, one side of which was slightly delayed so you could, in theory, interact with yourself, a bit like this;

The first day was spent... waiting... for a carpenter, scaffolder, electrician, organiser - in fact anyone of any use to turn up and help us set the space. Lots of promises and no show from anyone. A team were building an entire bar in the same tent with food serving facilities and they too were waiting... and being delayed.. in fact they had to stay up the entire night building it ready for the 12 o'clock opening the next day with little help or contact from anyone from the festival. Will's install never got made while I was there due to structural concerns, a complete lack of three wooden walls and no electricity. We were promised that it would happen, but be relocated. I don't know if it ever did.

I've never been to the Secret Garden Party before and well, it was curious. It looked great - there were trees of shoes, random doorways, houses of straw and wood, random nan's living rooms, a dance-off boxing ring, mud pits, a boat and more props, flags, circus tents, surreal scenery and curious clothing than you can imagine, but behind this attractive frontage was a distinct lack of... well.. Party!

On wednesday the workers on site had to trek to Tesco, 4 miles away, to get food and drink as pretty much nothing was available on site - no drinks, no alcohol, no food! The dance-off boxing ring, which was the only place pumping music late and being rawkus were told to stop at 10pm and a topless girl was asked to put her shirt on. Hmmm... I went back to my tent at 10.30 bored out of my mind to relax for 5 mins and fell asleep, missing, I'm guessing, very little.

Grandma's living room in a field

So along came Thursday and the crowds started arriving - hooray! - but it turned out that the production of the festival was so far behind that the main stage wasn't even built for the thursday evening and, despite the increase in numbers, the place started to feel more like a theme park that was closing for the night than the first day of a festival. I overheard one conversation discussing how with only 3 people in the que in front of them, it took someone an hour to get through the festival gate as they were searching peoples bags so thoroughly.

Thursday night however was a vast improvement on wednesday, not that that was hard. So it's going better - I'm getting pissed on the alcohol I brought in yesterday from Tesco - a can of Red Stripe being £3.30 here (thats £13.20 for a 4 pack of lager!! Not exactly the reasonably priced selection of food and drink available mentioned on their website). Anyway I find a dance tent and get lost in a small crowd of zebra women, dandys' and deranged farmers. My minimal techno hit out of the way, I venture off and find that a Teddy Bear house is pumping - great methinks, only for them to announce 5 minutes later that they only have an 11pm license and are closing... so I find another tent with techno playing, and the power cuts out twice on the DJ who is working from a computer, by which time the crowd has begun to dissipate.. and they announce they too only have an 11pm license and are now closing........!! fucking hell.

Wrongness was on the menu at the Teddy Bear's house

I wander off to buy a drink at a little Honeymoon lodge, only to find they have run out of everything except Mead, which I except in desperation. Very little is going on. Fuck it thinks I, I've got better things to do than wallow in disappointment. I try to buy some food from a chinese shop, of which they have none left. "What can I buy with £2?" I ask. "2 Springrolls??" replies the guy behind the counter. So off I walk bemused with a single springroll wondering what the hell happened to my festival experience?

I can only hope for all those who are there now and paid £125 a ticket that Friday and Saturday were fucking amazing!?!


  1. The good news is that Will did get the video installation complete and shown over the remaining days