Bestival 2005 - Isle of WightWords by Cora Wade
Photographs by David Rutherford
Radio 1 DJ Rob Da Bank and his team managed yet again to pull off a rip-roaring weekend of merriment at this year's Bestival. The Bestival progressed through Rob da Bank’s Sunday Best club nights and settled into one of the finest festivals in the UK. The idea took 9 months from conception to birth and produced a beautiful, bouncing bundle of joy in 2004. Under the banner of ‘Bananas Not Guns’ Bestival 2005 began with the usual inpouring of campers and revellers streaming to congregate on the 88 acres of striking nature reserve at Robin Hill. We arrived at the car park early and began the down-hill ramble to the free shuttle bus, a la Southern Vectis, to get us to the country park. Cloaked in the late morning mist, its gates opened and let us in that we might stuff ourselves full on the tasty feast of music and entertainment ahead of us. Armed with my list of must-sees, we made our way past the holistic tents, housing palmists and therapists, to see which of us would find the Hidden Disco first. .All the usual festival shops and stalls lined the way to the main arena and as we stumbled over the ropes of huge tents and big tops, we could hear the thumping of an array of music from electro to rock to disco and punk... where to go first. After mooching around to absorb the atmosphere we found our place and sat back while the music plane took off from the main stage with The Dub Pistols, featuring SKA band The Specials’ Terry Hall. We ran over to the Big Top to jump, temporarily, with the electro-punk White Rose Movement. The crowd adorned themselves with the trademark tree branches for the pending arrival of British Sea Power, then back to Main Stage to catch Mylo’s mesmerising set - all lights and electric which psyched us up enough to be calmed by The Magic Numbers. The Numbers are this summer's major, musical discovery. They took time out to 'have a cuddle and a photograph’ with fans in the car park, before headlining with their soft sounds and 60s, American style of harmony.
‘Fancy dress is not optional!’ trumpeted the Bestival Bugle on Saturday morning. The parade was just one of the weekend's highlights, with its Wild West theme. But there was a slightly serious element to it, in that it was an attempt to break the world record for the largest fancy dress party ever. To ensure we all entered into the spirit of things there was a fancy dress stall on-site to cater for those who lacked the forethought. Rob da Bank led the parade from the Bollywood tent as the carnival float of sequinned dancers rolled its way through the site. Trailing behind were an estimated 9,000+ fancy dressers, all dancing to the beats of Island drum bands Unidos dah Ilha and Raw Samba. This climaxed at the main stage where the madcap Cuban Brothers took their cue to kick off a show of slick suits and dance moves complimented by a spot of roller boot action. In a moment of premature celebration the Brothers announced that the world's biggest fancy dress party record had been broken – but had it? Saturday's musical highlights included: DJ Andy Smith in the Hidden Disco, Fabio & Grooverider in the Big Top, Hot Breath Karaokeover at the Bollywood tent and, of course, Röyksopp on Main Stage.
With Sunday dawning on a multitude of wilting headdress feathers and sagging holsters, we were ready for a rest and made our way to The Temple; a huge inflatable church. We were promised that we would be pampered by the fairies but alas, I didn’t see any. I think a few festivalites were away with them somewhere. The walk downhill to the bandstand took us to an acoustic set from Alison David, hard to hear at first as my eardrums were set to 'maximum incoming volume'. Slowly she calmed the chaos and led us to a sweet and melodic place far, far away. Comfortably eased we ambled over to the WI tent for a cuppa. Exhausted, we instantly fell about in a childlike tantrum on discovering the cakes had sold out. So, with our lips threatening to trip us in a cakeless sulk, we wandered off amongst a gaggle of resident, Robin Hill geese. A visit to the Bournemouth born Laundrettas, self proclaimed ‘Queens of Pamper’ out to ‘Make the World a Sparklier Place’, was a must. Decked in 1950s frocks they offered a range of services from pulling those plagued by the weekend's over-indulgence into the bosom of a cuddle, to a massage and even the odd haircut. Lee "Scratch" Perry, the world's original Dub Master, made a Sunday appearance on Main Stage too. Over 50 years in the business and he’s still managing to pack them in. Mercury Award nominees The Go! Team kicked off by pulling the crowd in to their genre-fused tracks, those girls really know how to rock. They admirably paved the way for seasoned festival goers the Super Furry Animals, who had the job of bringing Main Stage Bestival to a close (it's a shitty job, but... ). So, with the tingle of anticlimax in our tums (either from the thought of the vertical trek to the shuttle bus or by the come-down of a blinding weekend) we plodded on home to the snugness of our beds and to dreams of fairies in cowboy hats, eating cake and sipping tea. Special thanks goes to Mark and his crew at the ‘Coffee Bug’ for supplying us with an endless amount of free lattes and looking after our equipment all weekend.