It's Sunday lunchtime and I'm standing, watching a continent of beautiful people dancing, at Noisily's delightfully decorated Liquid Stage. This space has mostly hosted psytrance stunners from across the genre this weekend though now I'm witnessing something a little different. The Kaya Project clearly have roots within Psytrance but this is blossoming into a full on, chilled-out and blissful world electronica. I smile as people cup their hands and raise them skyward in spiritual gesture. I make mental note as people adopt yogic poses over the strains of flute and tzoura. I look at the intricate light patterns bouncing around the leaves of the trees as Indra (or Zeus) decides whether it rains or shines. I'm aware of new friends and old friends dancing around me yet I am consumed by my thoughts. It's been another amazing Noisily.
I spend a fair bit of time thinking at Noisily. Rarely are my thoughts so trance-like. Sometimes, they are just plain silly. Saturday afternoon and I'm in an impeccably clean portaloo, well stocked with paper. These toilets are always so pristine and I wonder if it's genre-specific. Is it something about psytrance fans that their toilet habits are much more pleasant than those from an indie-rock bent? I convince myself that somebody should conduct a study. The thought doesn't stay with me for long.
It's possible that the thought sticks with me at all because, here in the camping field, the underworked staff from LooWatt cut forlorn figures throughout much of the festival. The ubiquitous posh festival loo is springing up across the circuit for punters who want to pay for their poop. I have some sympathy for LooWatt though because the technology behind their invention is a game changer. This system uses waterless toilets and biodegradable linings to make clean energy through which you could, as an example, charge your mobile phone. In a gazebo to the side of the loos, massages are offered as an add-on. This service costs £22 for the weekend or £2 per dump. Despite the environmental goodness, I can see why people stick to the tried and tested free Portable toilets down the hill.
When not deep in thought, I am deep in conversation; for Noisily is a festival where the music often acts as a backdrop over which we get to know our neighbours or those we sit next to as we take a break from stomping to the beat. I lose count of the number of people I chat with over the course of this weekend; brief insights into their busy lives; short extracts from their histories that they consider worth sharing. Here I am chatting with a lovely gay couple from Brighton. Eighteen years ago, their eyes met over a dancefloor at a psytrance event and they've been together ever since. And now, I'm chatting with a 62 year old woman from New Zealand. Here with her husband because a chance event has temporarily brought them home and to a festival that they'd always had their eye on.
It's back at the campsite where these chats really develop. Indeed, it's one of those festivals where you can easily allow the distant strain of dance to waft over you as you get to know your neighbours. Photographer Phil and I meet people from our hometown that we'd not previously known, dentists and doctors , Brazilians and Catalans, Scousers and Scots. Everybody gets on fantastically. We share our drinks and our food as we understand what has brought us together in this Leicestershire field. The tone is set early in the weekend when I turn up without tent pegs to pitch my tent. "We've got loads spare", offers a nearby neighbour. I then proceed to borrow their mallet and air bed pump as well. I stop short of borrowing their tent.
Noisily has got four stages this year. There's the aforementioned Liquid Stage that specialises in Psytrance. Discovered at the far end of this beautiful woodland site, it positively glimmers during day and night with bindee wearing dreadlockers stomping in their sandals. Higher up in the trees, there's the Treehouse stage. Typically a house music based stage in recent years, it now also seems to have diversified into a bit of electro-swing. This is no bad thing. I never do find the Nicolas Cage stage but I'm told that some great things went on there. Those wanting techno treats can head to the Noisily stage. Still in the same location as last year, the area's had a 180 degree turnaround with the music now blasting from the area where the bar was previously.
This is a festival that's growing as organically as it can. Two years ago, there were just 1000 punters; we're now at about 2,600 I'm told. Organisers have been adding new things so the site easily copes with such an increase. Some of the infrastructure additions are pragmatic whilst others are delightful. Access to the Liquid stage was hindered last year because the pathway to it became a little sticky in the rain. This year, despite some rain, no such problem exists. The path to Liquid had been solidified with extra stone. New woodland paths, always beautifully lit with fairy lights bouncing off the trees, have also been created to give us new territory to explore. A stunning wooden arched bridge acts as a shortcut so that we can easily move from the wonderful terrace of the cocktail bar to the Treehouse area. Large lanterns hang from the trees. Other art sparkles in the sun and glistens in the rain. Many will argue that there's no better festival setting in England and they could well have a point.
Food, drink and stall provision has grown similarly. The fabulous ‘Got Game’ still takes a central billing alongside the Italian Kitchen. Both have been here for the three years that I’ve been coming. They’re joined by other food stalls; vegetarian and curry. The queues for these bulge at peak times but, on balance, the organisers seem to have provided enough food stalls so that the wait isn’t too epic but so that the traders aren’t left with too many quiet periods. There’s more than enough bars around the site; it’s disappointing that they specialise in Tuborg and Somersby but each bar now has (often hidden from view) a barrel or two of ale to keep us bearded dancers happy. If I wanted to buy ethnic-inspired jewellery or tie-dye rugs, I could find it in abundance at the on-site stalls.
Characterised by the highest of production values, the music that blasts from the funktion 1 speakers on each stage is never short of spectacular. I look down the line up and recognise very few names. Psytrance is a niche market and it’s not my music of choice when at home. But those here know their Moonquake from their Ecliptic, their Laughing Buddha from their Hopi. I keep my ear to the ground and follow the buzz when I hear a recommendation more than a few times. It’s by doing this that I take in a truly monumental set from Grouch on the Liquid stage. It could be a Saturday afternoon but my sense of time and perspective is somewhat vague. I know the sun shines down on us all as we smile and dance in a state of bliss. The music gets into our very core; we’re all friends in this woodland clearing and those that are here are never going to forget the warm memories that Noisily 2015 has inspired.
Until next year – there’s a special festival growing here in the Goan district of Leicestershire.
Noisily Festival returns for a 5th year to Coney Woods at Noseley Hall, in Leicestershire, and the dates are expected to be from Thursday 7th until Sunday 10th July 2016.
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