June 29, 2005 by cosmoakacitizensmith
i first caught it back in 1998 at the lizard festival in cornwall. some old festie hands had decided it would be fun to run a tent with a bar in one section and a casino in the other. the funny part was that the casino had a dress code. u had to look dapper, and the main way of doing that was to hire a costume from the lost vagueness crew before u could enter it.
this was amusing because most of us were wearing fairly ragged, crusty clothes that befitted living in a field for days on end. so it gave the whole place a kind of tongue-in-cheek aura of exclusivity about it.
the thing was, it proved so popular that it expanded massively and now occupies a whole field of its own at the mother of all uk festivals, glastonbury. it’s almost become a victim of its own success, in the sense that its exclusivity that started as a laugh is now a huge part of its appeal.
the expanded lost vagueness field now includes a mock american style 50s-style diner blaring out classic tunes from the era, a number of incredible-looking stages and a “chapel” where mock weddings are held by people dressed in bondage gear.
it is a massive hit. the national press lap it up. one of the sissor sisters are quoted as saying that this is what heaven is like. and main man roy guvtiz tells me that the acts that approach him during the festival are actually bigger than the ones he has actually booked.
the place comes alive after the main festival has shut down at 11pm. the nights are wild, boozy, druggy and have some of the most out there bands booked to entertain u. a huge japanese ska combo was one that stuck in my mind. quite an odd thing to take in when yr off yr tree in a velvet-draped casino in the middle of a field.
people are dolled up to the nines, even the older, well-preserved hippies look fantastic. this is a whole part of the site that is designed exclusively for pleasure, hedonism and decadence.
i like the idea of decadence. it means two things. on the one hand it is indulgence in pleasure and the sensual side of life for its own sake: drink, drugs, sex, loud music, great food, the exclusive life of the pure pleasure-seeker. we’ve all been there to some degree or other, and hell, it’s a whole lotta fun
on the other hand, u can apply the word “decadent” to cultures which are on the edge. i suppose the idea is that if u do to much of the sensual, fun side of life, it could be that u r running away from other aspects of it. so if u apply this to a culture, it means that u have a whole society living in a fucked up way that is over-indulging to get away from itself.
which is kind of what i think is happening to us. we know our lifestyle and the wars, poverty and violence used to sustain it are finally impacting on mother nature itself. we’re being rejected by our own planet as a kind of intrusive, cancerous growth
so what do we do? get messy! open gastropubs! get entertained! overindulge to oblivion! just a thought
this is not to knock the lost vagueness crew, many of whom are mates and who am i to complain when i’ve had my fair share of wild times in their company? decadence is something that is happening outside in the “real” world, it afflicts us all and i’m just trying to put forward some ideas why in my humble way.
whatever the reason, in the current climate, it is a very useful political tool.
maybe this is it. i’m gonna get converted and turn into a puritan nut or something.
one final word about mutual aid and co-operation on the festival scene which i was waxing about in earlier posts. our mate skan spends his time at festivals getting wrecked up, putting up stages and making the impossible possible. at the end of glastonbury, we were faced with the challenge of getting five people, all our instruments, amplifiers and camping gear off a gridlocked site with only a few hours to go before a severe weather warning kicked in and no van.
enter skan with a vague plot to go off site and get a crate of the deadly liquor called special brew (max strength beer and his tipple of choice). next thing u know, as we sit around with all our gear in despair, he turns up with a van, a driver and an army of helpers. before u know it we have plotted a route out of the festival that would make security have an apoplectic fit and we are outside the site, in our van and on our way home.
nice 1 guys, we owe u big time! there will be a place in anarchist heaven awaiting us all