One of the best things about being home here in the UK has been dropping straight in to festival season, I really couldn’t have timed it better. So, as the weather turns and we head into spooky autumnal October, I thought I’d reflect on my best bits of summer.
My Top 3 of 2016:
Bluedot 22nd June-24th June, Jodrell Bank
Wow! Right, ummm. Bluedot was all about the science. SCIENCE! Being up at the site of the Lovell Telescope was mindblowing. The festival was basically perfect for me, with exactly the right balance of science, music and comedy. Plus a whole bunch of stands where actual IRL physicists were answering questions, at whom I just shouted SCIENCE through sheer exhilaration at being in their presence.
There was a beautiful, pop-up planetarium, fashioned out of wood triangles and tent, which was an exact mathematical dome, even though it was hand-built and portable. I also ate the best cheese toastie of my life. Bluedot was a field full of nerds, my favourite genre of people. The only negatives were there were only chemical toilets and the festival was very majority white men.
Highlights: Planetarium Show with history of Jodrell Bank, Large Hadron Collider demo, Pulsars & Explosions talks, 65 Days Of Static, Public Service Broadcasting, Gwenno, camping right next to a mini radio telescope.
Afropunk 24th September, Alexandra Palace
A poc, feminist, queer-friendly event, Afropunk was one of the best things I’ve ever been to. Re-entering the patriarchal, white supremacist world again after just a few hours in Ally Pally was strange and scary after that wonderful feeling of a world without those oppressive aggressive forces. I cannot imagine what it would have been like for all the black and brown people whose space it was. I’m super grateful that I was able to go to this event, a celebration of black music and culture. The set-up was perfect, with two main stages alternating acts and a second room full of stalls and another stage.
All the music was brilliant and all the fashion and dancing was amazing. As one Vice journalist recently wrote “Afropunk made Fashion Week look like trash”. There were no negatives at this event for me.
People often ask how they can be better allies, or what they can do to “help” oppressed groups. I have been guilty of asking this kind of question before. As a person with a great deal of white privilege and some gender privilege. The best answer I’ve ever heard is “just shut the fuck up and listen”.
Stop asking the question, stop interrupting, stop trying to help people who don’t need any help, stop inputting on conversations that are not yours, stop trying to prove how ‘good’ you are. This is not your space, this is someone else’s space. Show up, be counted, stand next to people and do not let hate happen in your presence. But mostly Shhhhhh. Listen. That’s all.
Supernormal 5th August-8th August, Braziers Park
Set in the stunning grounds of an activist commune, this festival had visual and aural experiments everywhere. The sparse programming left a lot of time for thought and reflection, collaboration and creation. The night skies were stunning and I felt pretty honoured to be able to be there in the company of nature and such weird and wonderful artistic minds. The site was covered in beautiful hand-built structures made only days before the festival. The only negative at this one for me is that there is a lot of class privilege within the activist worlds and the artist worlds, so gathering those two worlds together, I didn’t find my own sense of belonging.