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Global Gathering is the best festival I've ever been to. At other festivals I've seen fights, been followed round by strange people and generally had a lot of experiences that put me off going to festivals again.
Global Gathering changed all that though, everyone I spoke to was friendly and lovely, the music was brilliant and generally I had an amazing time.
I don't want to bore you with the same details and information you can glean from the Global Gathering website, so I will tell you my personal experience and give you the advice that will make your GG just that little bit better:
- Get by the "No Alcohol" by making mixes of vodka in carton of fruit juice and just close them up so they look sealed. Also you can make vodka jellies and these get by security fine as well
- Use a flag, paint your tent, do something to make yours stand out as finding it in the dark when drunk can be a nightmare
- Always carry a wind up torch, you can even get ones with wind up radios and phone chargers attached, they cost under a fiver and will be useful in countless situations
- Be careful what you put in the front pocket of your bag, while you're raving away someone might be pinching all your stuff!
- If you're freezing cold and rain has soaked all your warm jumpers, don't pay £40 for a hoodie, get a foil blanket instead, costs £2 and will warm you up just as much
- Closest to the entrance is not neccesarily the best place to camp, have a look what's around you, you don't want to set up then be listening to the dodgems all night
- Use Metcheck to check the weather before, but be aware their preditions will only be accurate within the last few days before the event
- Bring wellies regardless of the weather report, as even a little bit of rain makes the campsite muddy, more so with people walking all through it
- Get enough money to last the entire festival as queues and charges for the cash point are massive, also hide a spare 20 of it in random locations like inside your bra or a sock so that you always have some if you lose the rest
- Buy a lanyard as GG don't release set times for stuff previous to the festival
- Take a bit of food before you go as all the food they sell there is greasy, stodgy and expensive (think nearly £10 for a small pizza!)
- Wear something colourful so you're easy to pick out from a crowd for your friends, will also make a talking point for people to come and befriend you
- Check websites like Liftshare to see if anyone is travelling to Stratford from your area- it will save you loads on travelling costs
Me and two friends made a very late decision to take the trip to Global Gathering in 2006. Having ruled out the full weekend based on lack of enough funds, we finally decided to go ahead and get tickets for the Saturday event. We made the trip down to our local HMV where tickets were on sale. With booking fee included, it ended up costing around £100 each. Seems a lot for one night? Well, the line up of DJs and performing acts was so great, we decided it would be worth it.
Anticipating a drive of around 2 hours to get to the site, we set off at around 12noon - the music was due to start at 2pm. All was well until we had almost reached the site when the traffic kicked in! I think we sat in the queue for about an hour, of course it seemed like a lot more because we were all eager to get there as soon as possible.
I took the decision to drive and not drink on this occassion, although I was celebrating my 21st birthday that weekend. I find it very easy to not drink when going out anywhere as I prefer the comfort of my own car and the knowledge that I'll be able to get home when I want.
So, we finally parked, got tickets ready for inspection and after a quick tap down at the gate (followed by a quick sniff from the police dogs), we were in. First step was to buy a festival guide with set times. At £10 it was a huge rip off, but proved an invaluable guide with all the acts listed with their time on stage, as well as a full map of the site, not forgetting that it would serve as a great souvenier.
Feeling rather peckish after the journey, we had a quick scan around the food area. I decided to get a portion of chow mein from one of the chinese food outlets. Costing £6, I was sceptical, but having experienced festivals before, I wasn't suprised. However, the food was rather good and filled me up for the duration of the night.
Drink prices varied across the site, with soft drinks and bottles of water priced around £2-3, and beer slightly more expensive at around £4. There were spirits and other alcoholic drinks available at around the same price.
So, on to the entertainment...
Being a DJ myself and having an interest in Trance and Hardhouse, my favourite areas were bound to be the Godskitchen and Polysexual tents. Offering the best of the best of the worlds DJs in those genres, it was a tough decision as to who to go and see! The full list of arenas on the Saturday night was:
Radio 1 Beach stage - Mainly house music
Godskitchen Arena - Trance and Techno
Carl Cox Arena - Techno
Bedrock Arena - House and Techno
Defected Arena - Funky House
Polysexual Arena - Hard House
Accelerated Culture - Drum and Bass
There were also several smaller stages dotted around the site offering a whole range of entertainment.
The site layout was quite easy to negotiate once I managed to gather my bearings, with only a short walk of a couple of minutes from one end of the site to the other.
So, with 50,000 people packed in, the fun was about to begin. To namedrop some of the biggest DJs, I was particularly interested in seeing Eddie Halliwell and Paul Van Dyk in the Godskitchen arena, although sadly it was revealed that Paul Van Dyk wouldn't be attending as he had a family emergency, still, lots to see anyway!
The weather was fine until about midnight when the heavens opened. This seemed to force everybody into the nearest arena which added to the great atmosphere. One bad thing to come of the weather was that it somehow damaged the set up in the Godskitchen arena, the largest. The main PA system and all lighting lost power for about an hour and it just happened to occur whilst Eddie Halliwell was due to be playing. Fair play to him though, he carried on regardless with the only sound coming from his DJ monitor speakers. The crowd was still moving to his amazing performance and imagine the lift when the power finally came back on. A sudden surge of volume and illumination really gave a kick to proceedings.
I don't want to go into how well each DJ played because that is all a matter of opinion. One thing I will say is that the aerobatics thats took place as part of Fatboy Slims performance was something to treasure. Two biplanes with wingwalkers performed for about 15 minutes during his set and it really was marvellous. Something out of the ordinary anyhow.
I felt that the festival was really well promoted and organised. The arenas were layed out logically with ample food and drink available at not too extortionate festival prices. The ticket price is something that could be reduced for next time. I don't mind paying £100 for an event if it's worth it and I would say that £100 would be a fair price for the full weekend of entertainment.
All in all, Global Gathering was one of the best nights out I've ever had, with 16 hours of full on entertainment it was something that I'll never forget and would definitely recommend to anyone with an interest in any kind of electronic music.