I spent last weekend at Lounge on the Farm, a local festival that’s got bigger in each of the four years I’ve been to it. What I like about going to a festival is that it’s like a kind of alternative reality where everything is done for pure pleasure. Cynics might say that profit plays a role, but although some people undoubtedly make a tidy sum out of it – or given that it’s a festival maybe that should be ‘an extremely untidy, unshaven, smelly sum’ – they’ll only make profit if what they provide is enjoyable.
Thus, you walk about surrounded by happy people, some of them off their faces, while music drifts at you from here, there and everywhere – ska, blues, hillbilly, indie, jazz, prog rock, Motown, dance, reggae, folk, punk, whatever. At Lounge, they make a thing of the food on sale being locally sourced (although this year the presence of Pizza Express was a symptom of just how big this festival is getting). So the hungry festival-goer could enjoy anything from two different brands of locally-made ice cream to an organic falafel wrap, or for the meatily-inclined, a burger made from a cow that lived on the farm where the festival takes place.
Because everybody’s having fun, there’s no violence. There’s certainly some of the idiocy that comes with drunkenness – some sozzled fools broke our plastic picnic table by jumping on it while staggering back to their tent – but I’ve never seen anybody actually get hit. In spite of the fact that some of the punters are staggering drunk by early afternoon, with pickled eyes and bare torsos so sunburnt that they’ll have lost several layers of skin by nightfall, I’ve never even heard anybody issue so much as a threat.
Being a festival, the freaks dominate. Sights which would make you turn your head in the everyday world get no more than a passing glance. Hey, there’s someone dressed as a cow! Hey, there’s a guy with devil-eye contact lenses! Hey, there are eight 20-year-old girls with sombreros and Mexican bandit moustaches carrying inflatable flamingos! Meh.
In fact, as I have no piercings or tattoos, I felt like a bit of an outsider. Like Judge Dredd’s informer, Max Normal, being the one ordinary one in a world of freaks makes you the biggest freak of them all.