Summer for most people means packing a suitcase and jetting off somewhere hot to lay on a beach and top up the tan. For me, it’s packing a backpack and my 2-man pop up tent and heading off to remote fields in the UK, covered in glitter to drink overpriced beer and dance in mud.
For the past 14 years, Secret Garden Party has been on my list of places to go but for one reason or another, it has been overthrown by something else; 2010 was Glastonbury, 2013 was Hideout Festival in Croatia (before it became one big shuffle contest fuelled by dodgy ketamine and protein shakes), and every year since something else has taken priority. This year however, it was a combination of some truly stellar acts, that this will be the LAST SECRET GARDEN PARTY ever and the thought of missing out on being part of its history that meant that I didn’t even blink before a resounding ‘YAAASSSSS’ left my mouth and I had already started to air out the tent and shout ‘Where’s my other welly?’.
Let’s go dancing…
A week later, butterfly wing cape and top hat ordered on eBay and my partner in crime chosen, I’ve been hit hard with the realisation that my first SGP experience will unfortunately also be my last. Not through choice you understand, but because Head gardener Freddie Fellowes and his team of garden-lovers have decided that enough is enough and that 2017 and 15 years under their belt is the right time to end on a high.
I’m a closing party kind of girl. I always feel that when something is on the way out, it usually ups the anti to ensure they end with a bang, but the level of talent and experience that friends have told me about previous SGP’s makes me wonder just how they can possibly top their winning formula, however checking their website I quickly found out.
Who am I to disagree…
One of the things that I love about SGP is that every year has an ethos and a theme and I couldn’t be more on board with 2017’s offering. ‘Sweet Dreams are Made of These?’ is the title and it is exposing the obsession with fame and celebrity and starting the conversation on how easy it is to take a VIP room and throw it open to everyone.
‘Where everyone likes / follows / adores you, the bouncers all know your name and the Sweet Dreams are made by You…’, something I feel like getting printed on my t shirt for the duration of the festival.
Intelligent input darlin…
I’ll be honest, I’m not excited about SGP for the art; for me, art and performers help to set festivals apart from your regular gig or open air concert, but I’m not sleeping in a tent for 4 days and driving cross country to look at paintings and sculptures and bracelets made from beads, although give me enough beers or party favours and you’ll probably find me waxing lyrical about brush strokes and sculpture techniques till the sun comes up. I’m there for two reasons; the music and the buzz. Being part of a crowd of 10,000+ people, all singing to the chorus of your favourite bands greatest song. Waiting for the drop of this years biggest track and jumping up and down in a sea of other equally sweaty and excited ravers when the bass drops and the light show goes off. THAT’S why I’m there.
And I will most certainly be doing this when house music superstar Eats Everything takes to the decks. I’ve seen him play twice already; where he absolutely took the roof off WHP in Manchester one Christmas and I have vague memories of swaying about to his set at Hideout festival in 2013 and even if I don’t remember details, I definitely remember having a good time!
Switching up the BPM and getting ready to be throw about, I’ll be heading over to check out Sub Focus, where I hope he sticks to the classics that made him famous as I was left slightly disappointed by his album ‘Torus’ and subsequent tour that I queued up for hours to watch. Not the ‘hit you in the face’ gurntastic triumphs of his previous bangers to say the least. But one would hope that for the last ever SGP, he will pull out all the stops. His technique of using wireless synths and custom made noise trigger software to create sounds live is just insane and the level of raw talent from this guy is worth going along for. That and there is usually a pretty crazy moshpit to jump into if that’s your thing, although I will be at the edge and hoping not to get dragged in!
Other’s on my list of must see’s will be Waze & Odessey, Soul Clap and Maxxi Soundsystem, who again, have played many line ups at gig’s I’ve been to but have always been a little overshadowed so I’m giving them the full spotlight this time round.
For when my stomping feet get tired and I want to chill out and sip a cider, I’ll be heading over to see Kate Nash and get all the nostalgia feels and my over-pronounced fake posh Brit accent, although I reckon I’ll have to make a friend in the crowd at this one as my rave buddy has already told me he ‘ain’t standing listening to that posh bitch warble on’. The best thing about SGP? You enter an arena alone and by the end of the first song you have probably made life friends with 50 people, all dressed up as something different. That’s the other great thing about SGP, fancy dress is not only recommended but actively encouraged and if you rock up in khaki green with black hunters and nothing else, it is you that will be the odd one out. Fairy wings, full size giraffe’s outfits, stilts, glitter, mermaids…you name it and I bet you will see it wandering about at SGP having a great time.
Louie Louie, oh no, we gotta go…
Back to the music and I could not have been happier to see Seramic on the line up. The first time I heard ‘People Say’ will be a moment that will stay with me forever and you bet your life I will be there, belting it out and trying not to have too much of a moment through their entire set.
Perfect for kicking back and maybe having a nibble on some food will be Toots and The Maytals and if you aren’t sure who they are, rectify that immediately. I guarantee as soon as you hear those first rocksteady, ska beats and distinctly Jamaican vocals you will recognise them. I’m excited to see a little bit of music history, even if it isn’t my usual genre of choice and I suggest you do too.
Add to all of the above a games arena, a Lost Woods Disco, a stage shaped like a castle, a fully functioning spa, coloured powder Holi-style and so much more than I can possibly list and the only real question I have is how am I possibly going to fit it all into 4 days? Simply put, I’ll sleep when I’m dead because the UK’s worst kept secret is getting my full attention even if it is for this one last time.
The last ever Secret Garden Party takes place at Abbots Ripton, Cambridgeshire from Thursday 20th to Sunday 23rd July 2017. Tickets are available here.