A few years ago, there was something missing from British club life. All those nights out were over-populated in ultra fashionable glam-wear, highlighting a superficial and sometimes alienating side to the dance music scene. You would come back from Ibiza and revel in the fact that clubs there were full of up for it clubbers, often in mad costumes, which gave something special and unpretentious back to the scene. Although who knew, that bubbling under the surface of British club life, a similar vibe had been brewing
It's the emergence of 'the Gatecrasher kid' in their techni-colour-multi-flashing-furry-sparkly cyber wear that has put the fun back into the dance scene this year. We saw it at Homelands, amongst the rain and mud - the attitude was the same - as vibrant and positive as it was in the sunshine this weekend. The 'Crasher kids have been spreading a healthy bug, and it exploded at Gatecrasher's Summer Sound System this weekend!
The weather was glorious, and spirits were high when we arrived. People seemed happy to stay in the sunshine and dance to whatever music was available, be it at the Radio 1 Outdoor Stage or to the sound of the funfair. The tents were relatively empty, although those that decided to stay in the shade gave it their all. The placement of the dance tents had changed from the original plans, half the DJ population of the festival were stranded at Heathrow due to computers crashing, half the revellers were stuck in traffic outside the site and Gatecrasher coaches had turned up hours later than planned, though you would never have guessed all this the party was in full swing mid-afternoon.
Scott Bond drew the biggest crowd to the main tent at around 3pm, and it was one of the few tents to remain full for the majority of the event. The Progressive Arena was slow to warm up, kicking off with Ashley Casselle and continuing with Craig Richards, though it kept its die-hard dancers happy.
There wasn't a huge variety in music styles tent to tent, the exceptions being Metalheadz kicking out some wild drum 'n' bass, and Bed, attracting the smiley chatty crowd, a substitute for a buzzy chill out room most of the day.
Bed saw Erick Morillo perk it up with some of the funkiest, most soulful Garage of the day, and David Morales giving a warm, almost Balearic feel towards the end of the night. Half the tent sat around in animated conversation, the rest twirled around and danced. It was probably the best place to make friends, the infectious smile spreading across the room The wild card of Bed's day was Roger Sanchez at 9pm, playing deepest darkest house to a responsive crowd, definitely getting the whole tent on it's feet.
Hard Nation was a real favourite during the day, and was the most mentioned in terms of the crowds preferred DJs. It was one of the first arenas we visited, to find a hardcore crowd glued to the stage in worship of Sarah G (Barry from Milton Keynes declared her "the most gorgeous DJ ever") and later Rob Tissera, the foot stomping was merciless, and backflips optional. Everyone there was up for it and happy to ignore the sunshine outside. It boasted the finest selection of home made costumes, from kilts to Roman Emperors. Andy Farley brought smiles to faces in his blue Hawaiian shirt and looked to be enjoying it as much as the crowd.
Outside, the sun-worshippers turned their praise to Judge Jules who played the Radio 1 Outdoor Stage - a godsend to the ever-increasing crowd of lobsters who refused the shade of the arenas. Jules' set was energetic, as was he, who seemed to be enjoying the revelry as much as the punters. He continued his fun in the main arena, greeted by one of the loudest cheers of the day, only to be outdone by the roar that reverberated around the aerodrome as England scored their goal against Germany.
A hardy crowd could have been the world's most reserved football crowd ever, watching England's victory in front of a giant TV screen. So the spirits were lifted even higher, and Judge Jules was seen running from the end of his set shouting "Sorry I can't stop - I've got to catch the end of the match!!!".
Backstage, madness prevailed, probably fuelled by the green double decker bus, serving the celebs free Absinthe .. We found Children's BBC presenter Dominic Wood running around like a nutter, though hiding his (fake) lip ring for the photos Danny Rampling had abandoned the crowds for his 1.30 am set to play the VIP tent instead because, "Bed had too much ego." Ooooh, handbags at dawn, Danny .. Jeremy Healy dropped in to play the VIP tent too, brightening up the place in a pair of pink flowery Vivienne Westwood trousers ..
Paul Van Dyk was one of the crowd's faves in the main tent, keeping happy levels up for Paul Oakenfold and Sasha to follow him with impressive sets in a heaving tent.
Meanwhile, Metalheadz had gone bonkers; from Cold Cut to Goldie to Fabio and Grooverider the sun came up, though the arena saw few signs of fatigue. It saw some of the craziest dancing and most energetic crowds of the day, often seeming like a million worlds away from Hard Nation, which was beginning to look like a pop crowd in comparison
I suppose that people had started leaving by 6 am, but the arenas were slow to empty. Deep Dish in Bed, Lisa Lashes and Fergie in Hard Nation and Tall Paul in the Gatecrasher main arena kept a tight hold on the hardcore crowds. The queues for cars to leave the car park were slow, but the music was blasting from every stereo available, and people just danced by their cars instead. Back in London, around 11am Sunday, the cyber kids swarmed out onto Oxford Street, heading for Provocation at the Office Bar. They won't let the party end, and that's the way it should be.
Gatecrasher really lifted the spirits, and they'll stay that way for a long time to come.
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