The power of the festival

So as you can see from my 365 challenge, I went to Ealing Jazz Festival this weekend. The whole event was lovely. It was filled with people both old and young. At just £5 with a BYOB policy, pretty clean portaloo’s and churros at your disposal I thought it was all very well put together.

My one criticism would be that the music wasn’t jazzy as I had expected, you know? Saxaphones, people swing dancing, a hazy image of calm. Instead the music has more of an African vibe with drums and maracas. But this post isn’t intended to review the festival. Not really anyway…

I have never been to a real festival. By real I mean, staying overnight in a sweaty tent getting smashed off wellie loads of warm cider. I can’t say that I feel I’m missing out. Granted, when I was fifteen I spent hours of my evenings attempting to persuade my father that Leeds Fest was safe and there were zero drugs, so I would absolutely fine! Obviously, this failed and as fate would have it, I have never had the urge to visit a festival since!

I think what put me off festivals the most was the story of Poo Girl. I think everyone has heard this story and if you haven’t, I suggest you Google it. I am not about to give you a dramatic rendition of it all – I’ve just eaten, Thanks.

So I went to my first festival this weekend. A tame, family filled festival, but a festival nonetheless. As we arrived the field was filled with groups gathered around sat on picnic blankets, enjoying their tales of the week previous. The sun was setting behind the circus tent that sheltered the band, omitting the soft vibrations of “African Jazz” that gave the whole setting a real “It’s Friday, Let’s Chill” feel. I loved it.

We set up our blankets and slowly got merry on Stella Artois Cidre (It would have been wine, but glass was not permitted on the grounds!) An hour or so later and the prospect of a little dance arose. I was game. I’m always game for dancing, booze or no booze. The enthusiasm spread and soon the majority of our group had headed into the dark depths of the circus tent and were swaying and shaking to the rhythm of the drums. The older residents of the festival were perched front row on camper chairs eyeing up the drunken folk attempting to dance.

Then something happened, I don’t know how it began, or why it began. But a fellow group member decided to start a Conga. Yes folks, an old school, funky, Conga. It was great, people who I had never seen or heard of in my entire life joined in. But then, that is the spirit of the Conga. As with all Conga lines it lasted mere minutes. However what then descended was the largest group photo I have ever been a part of. First one stranger photobombed, then another. Eventually it was no longer a photobombing session but a group photo of people who didn’t know each other, but, the knowledge that they were there, enjoying the music, the vibe, the Conga together as one, was enough to form a bond strong enough to class this photo as a group photo. 

This scenario moved me. Genuinely, as cliche as it sounds, I was overwhelmed by the friendliness and group feeling that was spread throughout the tent. Having just moved to London I have learnt that it is difficult to get a Hello out of some people down here. But to see this restored my faith in the human race and our ability to communicate and enjoy the simple things in life.

And that ladies and gentlemen is the power of the festival. (let your fifteen year old daughters go, it might just do them good in the long run!)

jazz fest


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