So, most of you know me as Liability Magazines in-house Film and TV writer BUT occasionally I do venture out into the great outdoors; well, as great as you can get being at a sweaty British Summer Time festival, surrounded by Uni students chucking loo rolls at each other and shouting things like, “butt scratcher” and, “Alan…Alan..ALAN!… Steve, Steve, STEVE!!”. I’ve been a regular festival goer for around ten years now and have been to most festivals as I like most types of music! There are certainly perks to be had as a disabled festival regular but I’ve also found myself in some (very) sticky situations.Here are some success stories, and some NOT SO successful stories from my years as a festival regular!
Global Gathering (The playboy bunny tattoo incident) As we all did a few summers back, I went through an undeniable dubstep phase, and after a quick look at the Global Line Up I was sold. This was when sleeping in a tent didn’t used to bother me and my energy seemed unlimited. I arrived at Global Gathering, which is actually relatively local to me, and after doing the mandatory car queue, we were in a few hours later only to find that they had NO disabled access (now this was a few years back so it may well have changed). As I’d been to many festivals before I was used to un-level ground, mud and the things that come with festivals but as I was in my powerchair and they didn’t have ANY charging points, this was going to be a slight problem.
Obviously I was pretty furious and after discussing it with the staff on the gate, my husband (boyfriend at the time) and I were given free VIP wristbands for the whole weekend. Now this is where my problem-solving mode came in, we pitched our tent next to an airbrush tattoo caravan that was hooked up to a generator and spoke to the lovely guys in there, who NOT only let me charge my chair through their window but also gave us whiskey after whiskey and fantastic conversation. They even let me tattoo someone (a pink playboy bunny if you were wondering). Another plus at this festival was, because Global had no disabled platforms we were permitted to watch the shows from the side of the stage, which was all good until a spark of one of Knife Party’ fireworks literally fell into my eye. But it was all fun and games and we were up partying until the early hours.
Festival Tips for Global Gathering:
– Check their facilities
– Pace yourself – most of the stages run until 4am (headline slot) so if there’s a headliner you
want to see make sure you have a little siesta.
– Energy drinks are a MUST!
Swedish House Mafia at the Milton Keynes Bowl (The amazing lady incident)
Although this isn’t technically a festival it was an ALL day event featuring Avicii, SHM, Calvin Harris and many others. Don’t ask me how, but we actually managed to get friends and family VIP tickets through work which meant that we were put onto Avicii’s guest list. I’ve done VIP at a few festivals but never like this; it was a backstage area marquee with fresh flowers, free bar and BBQ. All the free bar was selling was Grey Goose and Coconut water. It was like, hipster, before hipster was hipster. Again, this success story starts as a not so successful story. The VIP area was GREAT but all it had for viewing was a flat screen TV and no actual stage viewing area so to view the stage you had to go out into the crowd, and as you can imagine with one stage and a huge capacity it was absolutely RAMMED and although we squeezed in a few times, I decided to try my luck. I found an amazing lady who very obviously ran the show, she was chic with a headset and you could tell that she could boss everyone when she wanted to. I started chatting to her and to cut a long stort short she let us on the stage with SHM. We literally watched their last ever set just to the side of them, to the point where we were actually moved over by security on the last song in case the fireworks landed on us. It was so surreal watching thousands of people in the crowd from the stage, and seeing everyone sing along was AMAZING.
Festival Tips for restricted access venues:
– ALWAYS ask. You know what they say, ‘if you don’t ask, you don’t get’, so if you are uncomfortable ask staff to help you find a solution
– Coconut water and Grey Goose together tastes gross! Don’t drink it.
Reading Festival (The life saver, ground fixer incident)
At Reading Festival you usually get one of two things, TERRIBLE, terrible rain or AMAZING sunshine. V Festival is the week before and I usually find, whatever they get Reading tend to get the opposite. Unfortunately this year was the former and it rained constantly, and we were camping. Reading is one of the best festivals in my opinion for disabled access and they take the needs of ALL very seriously. Not only did Reading have lorries going around the disabled campsite and platforms sucking up the moisture from the ground but they also put down security gates into the mud to act as make shift ramps and covered them in bark to again, soak up the rain! It was so helpful and so appreciated as the last thing you want when drunk in the early hours is to end up stuck in the mud. Reading’s platforms are large capacity and they have one at EVERY stage, not just the main stages. They also have a great variety of acts to suit all tastes.
Festival Tips for Reading Festival:
– If you don’t fancy camping Reading have a host of hotels for all budgets in the town centre (all walking distance from the festival)
– Go to The Purple Turtle in Reading Town centre for some great cocktails and an even better juke box on Thursday night.
– If you are flagging/or avoiding the rain go into the comedy tent in the day! They have amazing acts, from comedy to dogs that can hypnotise people, it’s a great place to boost your energy.
– Check out Daniel P Carter’s stage if you like heavier music! And make sure you get down the front.
Festival #Fails! Electric Daisy Carnival (The no good bands incident!)
My first year at EDC at Olympic Park was AMAZING, but since they moved it to the Milton Keynes bowl it has been TERRIBLE. I was invited to EDC by friends, and I was really looking forward to seeing some of the artists that were in the tents rather than the main stage, (Dillon Francis, Jaguar Skills, Shy FX) so after the rigmarole of getting through and actually getting into the arena (after a massive “walk”) I asked the staff how to get to the tents, her answer was “YOU CAN’T, all of the tents are over the other-side of the bowl at the bottom of stairs!” I was absolutely gutted and ended up watching people I didn’t want to watch for the whole festival. The worst thing was EDC didn’t see it as a problem.
Festival Tips for EDC:
– Make sure you like the acts on the main stage!
– The platform is REALLY far back so if you want any kind of atmosphere be sure to brave the crowds.
– Dance, drink and enjoy the atmosphere (wheelchair drink smuggling is easy at this festival! So stock up on cheap bottles!)
Download Festival (The BBQ incident)
Download was my FIRST ever festival and as a Sixteen year old trying to look cool with my mates, when my mates mom asked I said “I don’t need disabled camping, I want to be in the mix of it with everyone else!” Little did I realise that that would mean that I don’t get the Disabled wristband – the ONLY way that you can use the disabled toilet! As if going around in an electric wheelchair isn’t obvious ENOUGH – I needed a flimsy paper wrist band to prove that I was in fact disabled. So, after realising this, and being told it was “too late” to get verified for a wristband and that I’d need a DLA letter or blue badge with me (not a copy) to prove that I was disabled, the loo’s were pretty much a no go. I tried a standard portaloo, but fitting two people in a tiny portaloo with a large step is pretty much impossible even prior to alcohol consumption. So basically, we got thrifty, I made a BBQ LOO (TM Kelly Perks-Bevington – patent pending) and basically every time I needed a wee I had to pop back to the tent (20 min walk from the arena!!) for a BBQ wee. Not the best times but it made for an entertaining first festival.
Festival Tips for Download:
– Make sure you book into the disabled campsite! It’s so much closer to the arena and it has great charging facilities for chairs.
– If it rains, stick to the main stage. When it rains at download it becomes a slippery mud slide. Aim to be at the bottom of the hill halfway through the day and stick to the main stage. Then it’s just a case of getting pushed up the slope at the end.
– Plan who you want to see in advance as the stages are quite far apart!
V Festival (The no disabled VIP’s Incident)
As much as I LOVE a festival, milling through crowds of people sitting on the floor and running over numerous plastic cups can get a bit old. I often try and get VIP these days (don’t judge, I’m getting old). So, after getting to V, getting into the VIP and queuing for ages, I’d already had a few Gin’s and I was absolutely desperate for a wee (sensing a theme here?). To cut a long story short in the WHOLE VIP area there was NO disabled toilets! V really weren’t expecting any disabled VIPS and it really annoyed/upset me. I went and spoke to someone and to cut a long story short they ended up crane lifting a disabled toilet in to the VIP area there and then, and gave us free drinks on the VIP bar (they said one, but we had them all day!) CHEERS V!
Festival Tips for V:
– Make sure you look for a toilet BEFORE you actually need it as you may have to wait for one to be crane lifted in.
– Go early as their queuing process takes ages and the staff can be quite disorganised when it comes to disabled tickets/collection points
– Definitely take a look at their Virgin Media house/chill area! It’s so cool we managed to catch Jaguar Skills doing a secret set. It’s really good for a quick dance between acts and it’s fully accessible.
That brings me to the end of my festival stories for now; I could literally go on forever. Have you got any embarrassing festival stories or useful festival tips?! Let me know @KellyPeebz OR if you want to hear more about my festival do’s and don’ts drop me a line! Look out for my next article on Liability Magazine, next time I will be back to my usual category.