Glastonbury 2011… QX stylee!
Beyonce had the crowd roaring. Coldplay with Chris Martin’s emotive voice gave us goosebumps. Plan B sounded spot-on, even if he lacked charisma. Pulp pleased thousands with a surprise set. Janelle Monae was electric. Jessie J was static having broken her leg in two places, although you couldn’t fault her vocal prowess and wit.
But you read about all that in the press and watched it on the Beeb. However, beyond dem media whoring a-list acts stealing limelight, there’s a naughty lil’ undercurrent to Glasto’ that you’d never expect to see unless you saw it with your very own eyes.
So while Beyonce is writhing around on the Pyramid Stage, in a far-flung corner of the festival grounds across Worthy Farm and a long walk away from the families, the mud, the live music stages and the hordes of heterosexual masses is a hidden, happily isolated land named ‘Block 9’.
It’s a place where bearded trannies cake on the lippy and horny topless hunks fill sweaty dancefloors. Moustaches are de riguer, a symbol reflecting a bygone era of decadent clubbing that still pounds on today, revitalised for a new generation and championed by the likes of London’s Horse Meat Disco, GutterSlut, Dalston Superstore, East Bloc and Vogue Fabrics.
For this is the homosexualists quarter of Glastonbury, quiet and tranquil by day (they’re all recovering from the night before), but come nightfall and the freaks come out as the music kicks in; trannies work it HARD with the boys coming from all over to dance ’til dawn and beyond.
This year the Downlow celebrated five years of being the first gay club at a UK festival (nay probably the first in the world, even) now with Vogue Fabrics added on for extra stimulation – literally.
Across the Downlow, the London Underground is a giant council block that’s seen better days. Nestled next to it is the sublime Pale Blue Door, Tony Hornecker’s ramshackle pop-up restaurant with eclectic tranny entertainment and rooms for hire by the hour – use your imagination! Nearby is Shangri La, a futuristic and dystopian wonderland/wasteland.
The sets are immense, sprawling and awesome, far beyond anything I anticipated… for this is the dirty, beating heart of a late-night Glastonbury that nobody talks about. Until now…
I’m sitting in recovery position after a weekend of trawling through Glasto mud, which turned into a heatwave. Down at the Downlow/Vogue Fabrics disco area – Block 9 – the furthest field from the entrance, I was thinking as I approached, “Ok, ‘Radical Fairies’, mud, drag and music”.
Once I arrived it was a combination of the aforementioned (a sensation I have to say), continual ‘walks offs’ hosted by Jonny Woo, cabaret from Bourgeois & Maurice, Miss Annabell Sings and Fancy Chance through to a fully ‘turned out’ Luke Howard DJing in a leopard-fluro look!
In fact the amount of effort everyone made really quite made the occasion: Ashley Ryder escorted me into his pink S&M chamber; Danni Daniels took his knickers off; Holestar DJ’d, compered and generally multitasked, and that was just in Vogue Fabrics, all presided over by Lyall Hakaria in a body con get-up complete with a Dandy-fied ‘tache and false eyelashes.
Despite the mud it was one of my favourite years of fags in a field. I hosted the Vogue Fabrics tent next to the NYC Downlow, which was a fabulous kinky disco with Ashley Ryder holding court, Danni Daniels confusing the hell out of people and Lucy Fizz sploshing with custard, eggs and gateau in the yard.
We also had incredible performances from Bourgeois & Maurice, Les Goom, Fancy Chance, Miss Anabell Sings, Mr Teds, Natalie Monroe and other queer stars. Dirtbox and Hot Boy Dancing Spot brought their parties and Princess Julia played a packed-out, sweaty, shirts-off set for POP!
Of the many highlights, one involved a fashion designer and an egg, another was performing my track ‘NyLon Woman’ on the main Downlow stage with the Sink The Pink dancers. We had no rehearsals but that’s what happens at Glastonbury, you get on with it and turn it out!
Where do I start? I came on Friday night; it’s better to arrive late because of the hedonistic fun that never seems to stop. After a ‘quiet’ sensible but fun Friday night DJing at Vogue Fabrics with Borja Pena, Princess Julia and Ralf, I woke up on Saturday with a hangover from hell to some blasting dubstep from another dance tent in Block 9, wondering where the hell I was.
I looked around me and realized that I fell asleep in Tony Hornecker’s ‘Bordello’ on top of the Pale Blue Door. Don’t ask me how I got there in the first place. I started the day with a trip down to the infamous Slumber rave with my friends Billy Burell and Shay Malt and crew. Pillow fights, 80s, 90s and house music was on the menu.
From there we went down to Dance Valley where Neneh Cherry pulled off some serious buffalo dancing, and seven seconds later we were standing in the middle of a Chemical Brothers rave concert screaming to ‘Hey Boy, Hey Girl’.
I don’t know how, but when it was time for Beyonce on Sunday I think my batteries were gone, and so was my voice and my shoes as well.
Playing the legendary NYC Downlow at peaktime on Friday night was an absolutely amazing experience. Total magic! I will also never forget (and will probably never recover from) the seemingly never-ending supply of increasingly demented trannies that kept turning up! Ladies I salute your dedication to the cause. Oh, apparently some bands and a person called Beyonce played as well.
A Man To Pet at the Pale Blue door was pure genius! Being in the Maude Adams and All Those Children dance troupe and doing a routine to Janet Jackson’s ‘What Have You Done For Me Lately?’ was so much fun, as was living in a Tranny commune with Luke Howard, James Hillard and all them fierce trans!
AMY REDMOND, SINK THE PINK
Muddy legs, sunburnt shoulders, delirious from sleep deprivation and excess partying. Yes, another Glastonbury is over. Beyonce and the sunsets, Laura Marling and a cold cider, bouncing on squidgy mud to Jessie J, fierce looks from Janelle Monae, homo talent Hercules and Love Affair and Robyn. A dream weekend.
Music at the NYC Downlow comes from the finest DJs of the moment, including Horsemeat Disco, Hannah Holland and Dalston Superstore’s Dan Beaumont.
The performances are from London’s finest alternative cabaret and drag artists. With the likes of Scottee, Jonny Woo, Sink The Pink and Gateaux Chocolat, there’s something for everyone.
JACOB LOVE AKA PHOTOGRAPHER LOVEIMAGELONDON
My best Glastonbury moments of this year would have to be having a cup of tea with my Dad back stage at the NYC Downlow, both of us in full drag, exchanging tips on nail varnish. Or removing a transsexual’s PVC thong on stage.
Waking up in a tent in the morning with ‘prune’ fingers after wallowing in a pool literally 2” deep in sweat. Spending five hours with a very dashing young gent dozing in a yellow hammock on a beautifully sunny Sunday afternoon.
Watching A Man to Pet’s show at the Downlow – suffering from every possible technical difficulty she managed to style it out so well that even falling headfirst onto a giant fan looked graceful, chic and hilarious.
By Cliff Joannou
Photos by LOVEIMAGELONDON