Secret Garden Party 2015

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“SGP was fucking muddy and hard work, and has left me sad and angry about everything. But it was also amazing and totally worth it for the spiritual insight and friendship. So, y’know, just another festival.”

- Personal Correspondence. Wednesday following Festival
Every time I think back to Secret Garden Party 2015, it’s mud…Then other things drift in, like driving a country lane in the English winter – everything appearing through a fuzzy, shifting haze of unrelenting dirty wetness, when what you really want to pay attention to are the beautiful and important things, of which there are many!
So, when the ground beneath your feet is literally liquid which flows downhill for 5 days, even the dedicated and diligent party troubadours of TNLF struggle to fulfil their duty of finding the best new music.
The Spiritual Playground has to come first on the list of amazing things to be experienced.
Cast of Characters: Shesus & Her Twin Sisters (here shown with Captain Lavender – expert in peaceful non-verbal communication {phallic feather duster speciality})DSC_4111
Merlin-ji the Mixed Race Medicine Man (here seen kneeling before our Saint Beysus)
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The Buddha of Blandford Forum (here seen leading the chant to Lady Beysus “All the Single Ladies”)
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Yoni & Lingam – The Source of the Cosmos (here shown with Hanuman- Holy Representative of Animals Throughout the Cosmos, and overseen by Our Lady of ‘You Shoulda Put A Ring On It’) DSC_4567
Lakshmi – Many-Armed Goddess of Abundance – who led a very constructive morning yoga session each day DSC_4257
Disgruntled Santa (also a skilled dholak player) jpg
Little Acorn & the Naked Guru (here shown expressing Cosmic Love with the star of the Pilgrim’s Parade née Fashion Show, one of our Cosmic Cleaners) 11755915_10153564953722082_1122385849382826653_n
and ze Love Stop Cafe11846617_1046381985379938_2140955255271062876_n
whose finger dancing, massages and general raunchy, loved-up tone helped many people survive some challenging atmospheric conditions! They’ve also been soothing frazzled folk at Wilderness and imminently at the fabulous Green Man (TNLF passim).
Every day began with a Gong-Meditation, led by Merlin-ji (seen here with a slither of his harem), which involved the just-woke-up and still-can’t-sleeps lying down on the floor for a soothing sound bath (we could all have done with a real bath, but more on nudity later).
And every day ended with John and Yoko, in their bed, leading the assembled crowds in a rendition of ‘Let It Be.’ This was actually really quite a therapeutic experience, and very helpful in coming to terms with one’s ever-shrinking cash supply, ever-growing hangover and the relentlessly consistent rain beating down on The Kitsch-Inn, preventing one from braving a sea of slop to see the gigs that one’s editor had insisted be hit that day.
Instead of seeing those gigs – Caravan Palace, David Rodigan, Kate Tempest, PSB, The Correspondents, The Cat Empire – it was a quick slip and slide over to the brigands raising the roof at the London Leisure Pirates, where we were treated to silly and scandalous sea shanties about transvestites traversing the treasure isles, sung by the ugliest wenches this side of the Somme. And they were then followed by some grippingly good dj sets – in the quest for whose tracks I happened on buried treasure in the form of Revision Remixes. Here’s something for anyone who likes to mix – a vast range of paired down, back to basics beats from classic tunes that everybody loves. Particular favourites of ours done Pirate-style were The Eagles ‘Life in the Fast Lane’ , INXS ’Need You Tonight’ and Blondie’s Rapture .  Any of you North London heads may know the Fox and Phoenix pub… and just to reinforce how much fun you can have with these scoundrels, one of our crew actually got ‘Leisure Pirates’ written in long-lasting ink across his shoulders!
The heavens were pretty consistently open, no doubt thanks to the cosmic rays being emanated from the Spiritual Playground, but they sealed up long enough for us to enjoy a cracking fireworks display, made infinitely better by the love-heart glasses that were handed out throughout the evening. Someone helpfully put up a video that will express the effect better than any words.  Screen Shot 2015-08-15 at 10.11.09
So that certainly lightened the mood, and distracted from the quagmire separating me from some absolutely brilliant music I couldn’t see or hear, from Kate Tempest for example. I was tempted to start this line with ‘for those of you not from south London…’ but, looking at her website, I see she’s just returned from a US tour, so I’ll not be patronising to those across the pond, nor spend too long talking about this absolutely cracking vocalist and songsmith. I was lucky enough to see her in concert at The Hootenanny, and wish I had tickets to see her at Bestival or Outlook.
The Correspondents can always be relied on to raise the roof and some eyebrows, and no doubt they didn’t disappoint on this occasion – but I wouldn’t know (blame the mud). So here’s a taste of their on-stage shenanigans if you’ve never seen them before. 
David Rodigan is now a UK institution, thanks to the ever-reliable BBCRadio6 and, to a lesser level of reliability, Radio2; and he no doubt spun some chilled out reggae classics to sooth the edgy masses, and get their mud-caked wellies shuffling. Again, I speak only from past experience, so include a taste of his goods here.   
Caravan Palace did a huge amount to popularise electro-swing, and the genre is now massive. I’d like to suggest a few of my own favourites…

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and the original, to empower you more creative djs out  there…
‘Noah’ the Grant Lazlo Remix
‘Louis Prima’s Shadrack’ the Fonograff Remix
and the various ‘Swing Machine’ playlists provided by Green Park Systems online provide hours of interest…and where I also discovered a long reggae mix worthy of Rodigan or the sadly still-missing at time of publishing, DJ Derek.
Now, let’s get naked.
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And go to the sauna, and then jump on a trampoline, because it’s bloody miserable grim and cold out here. Walking into the sauna, it was literally cheek to cheek. And what’s more, because one has to bow low to enter, , the penitent man gets a top rate view on first entry – well it was better than an intricate series of circular saws! I shouldn’t have to say ‘but’, but…I know that all sounds terribly off-putting to some of you. Others, Burners and co. wouldn’t bat an eyelidScreen Shot 2015-08-14 at 21.33.28… say no more..
…please just don’t ask me ‘what’s it like?
I can’t deny things ended well. Readers of my previous article, Green Man 2013, will know I think highly of Chaiwallahs. And they didn’t disappoint this year at SGP, closing their live stage with Joe Driscoll and Sekou Kouyate. None of the videos online do justice to the brilliant rapport these guys have on stage, battling each other, koura vs guitar, to display their digital dexterity, and incredible singing abilities from such radically different traditions.
 
See them on tour!
So, it was time to strike the Spiritual Playground stage, whose playlist had really been the backing track to my weekend, and many others’. I’ll always think back to the muddy, enlightening filth of SGP2015 when I hear:
‘Take Me to Church’ by Hozier
‘I Will Follow Him’ by Little Peggy Marsh
 
or the classic ‘Praise You’ by Fat Boy Slim
 see the Spiritual version here at 7 minutes:
This amazing drone video also shows some of the other highlights of the Playground, including the thrice-daily ‘Praise to Beysus’ session, inspired perhaps by the beautiful spiritual tradition of the Sufis, which the ‘King of Kings of Qawwali‘, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, did so much to spread globally.
…and you can also catch a glimpse of the daily ‘Cosmic Union’ ceremony, where the in-house giant genitalia performed a sacred dance, discovered by Shesus herself in ancient texts unearthed in Blandfold Forum, re-enacting the creation of the cosmos.
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That’s the feeling you get after creating the cosmos…
And here
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 you can see your intrepid correspondent taking the sacred Kale-Prasad-Wafer from Merlin-ji…ALL HAIL THE KALE! I’m not kidding you that, the next day, the congregation’s chants could be heard from the other side of the festival (downwind admittedly), as your correspondent prepared his writing materials for another big night of reporting ahead…
And now, having written this article, when I think back to SGP’15 it’s not mud – it’s like driving down an English country lane in early summer, with the foxgloves nodding at you and the sun winking through the branches of ancient oak trees, looking forward to every twist and turn!
For more amazing photos of this festival, please see the galactic galleries of Michael Marks, and of course the SGP archive website.

One Response to “Secret Garden Party 2015”

  1. max 

    hey that was me djing in the pirate tent, glad you had a good one!

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