Going to field-based booze ups ain't what it used to be. As I descended on Wilderness, I didn't realise that I was about to get a 5 step lesson in what it means to be a festival-goer in 2013...
Middle Class has a beard, the word ‘creative’ is in his job title and he takes himself incredible seriously. You will probably have friends like him, you may even know him if you shop in wholefoods, rarely use your Tate membership or have a passing acquaintance with the website Okcupid. I only mention him because if you started going to festivals when all that was required were rags in bags and bog roll, you’ll have realised we’re not in Kansas anymore and Middle Class and his ilk have inhaled the festival circuit. Earlier this summer a report came out stating the average festival punter is 35 and spends £420 each time. To test this theory out I took my friend Middle Class to Wilderness Festival to see if this truly was a natural habitat in which he would excel…
Here are 5 signs that signify the festival landscape has resolutely shifted.
Sign 1: The journey
Paddington station is a mash land of tent pegs and tiaras, commuters are hemmed in by camping stoves and rumours of portable picnic tables clogging up platform 4. Angry girlfriends berate weary boyfriends as they manfully attempt to haul walk-in wardrobes leaving a trail of neglect behind them.
I: Middle Class can you get us some food for the train and maybe a few cans?
With the expectant taste of pork pie jelly forming hexagonal spots of ecstasy across my lips Middle Class arrives into the cavernous iron girders of Paddington, looking, as you’d imagine, smug.
I: Middle class, what the fuck is that?
Middle Class: Sushi and Prosecco, you said you wanted some food.
I: Christ Middle Class, we’re going to a Festival, I’m all for poverty and glamour, but I need sustenance, I need carbs, I need unshakable foundations and you bring me… Raw fish!
Sign 2: Extracurricular entertainment
Two of the most terrifying words in the English language: Performance. Art.
Wilderness cradles Performance Art like a jaundiced new-born. Cricket games enthral the crowds with scant regard of the rules. You’re coated in opportunities to make, sing, dance and debate till your hearts relent. Admittedly in the innocence of youth we’ve likely all performed a haiku, but Middle Class was quiet literally born in the trunk of a traveling show and with the smell of the grease paint and roar of the crowd he’s away.
I: Middle Class what’s that?
Middle Class: It’s a flight attendant uniform.
I: Yes, got that bit, but what is that particular flight attendant uniform doing on you?
Middle Class: Oh, I joined up. We’re going to march across the festival as if we’re on a jumbo, all whilst singing Madonnas ‘Like a Prayer’
True to his word he and his fellow ‘Pilots’ set off at dusk in an easterly direction with no particular destination and devoid of all known reason.
Sign 3: Kitsch club nights
From Soho dungeons to roller discos the real enjoyment at Wilderness is found in its avenues and alleyways. Notably there’s the RSPLB (Royal Society for the Protection of Love Birds) where all staff are dressed as Girl Guides (never explained) and create a singles night for the lost and lonely hearted. Middle Class steamed in with nostrils flared expecting them to be filled. Luckily he met Lisa. Lisa was arrow thin, hooked nose and produced the sweat of a thousand man army – a match made in chemical heaven then. Middle Class likes drugs, most of them do, but likes things to be discreet: the thing he is most likely do after an orgasm, for example, is delete his search history. Lisa however, was not discreet, Lisa was a beacon for the indiscreet, a frosted nosed gibbering gibbon of a girl.
Lisa: Fucking love your beard, can I touch it?
Middle Class: Don’t see why not, thanks for sorting me out by the way.
Lisa: No worries cock, fancy a dance?
Middle Class: I would but you appear to be bleeding from the nostril
Lisa: Don’t worry about that babes, I’ll just bang it up the other one.
Middle Class: I really must be going…
Sign 4: Neighbours pursue separate passions
The crowd at Wilderness in my experience are almost always agreeable and with a sizeable handful of children running about a mutely level of respect forms within its the camp site. However ,emerging from the tent on Sunday morning with the look of a man who’d had a busy night under the strobes, self-drawn lightning bolt still clinging to his cheek bones and uttering sentences as half-finished as the cans and cartons strewn across of the festival site, Middle Class attempted to sketch the previous evening together whilst trudging towards the on-site lake in hope of a post chemical christening.
Complete stranger: Oh it’s you, did you get it sorted?
Middle Class: (with a look best described as blank) Yes…
Complete stranger: Good, me and Sarah heard you raising quite the ruckus back at your tent, you seemed to be testing the patience of a few people.
Middle Class: Oh sorry, are you camping near us then?
Complete Stranger: No, we’re in the next field across.
As the horror slowly spilled over his conscious, Middle Class, without fully understanding why, ached in places he used to play.
Sign 5: No good decisions are made after 2:00 am
Wilderness knows the art of timing, whilst most tastes are covered they are not exhausted, should you want to don marks and prance then you’re sorted. Should you want to belt out Prince till your hoarse, you’re covered. But at 2:00 am the site gently rocks to sleep in anticipation of the next day: that doesn’t mean, however, that all the guests follow this well thought out advice.
On Sunday night I found Middle Class outside a strange and uncomfortably small looking tent – not his own. One from which a noise arose that simply could not emerge from human bones. He was down and out, out but not quite through.
I: Middle Class where are your clothes?
Middle Class: In the lake.
I: Bloody hell man, what time is it?
Middle Class: 2:30.
I: Right I’m off to bed, what’s that noise?
Middle Class: Lisa
Early Bird tickets for Wilderness 2014 are now on sale, you can get them here