Secret Garden Party
Two different groups of English mates (and Alana) had all written to me about attending a festival in England called Secret Garden Party. I wasn’t too keen on going back to overpriced England, especially when there were places I had not been before still on my list to go.But I took into consideration (and needed persuasion from my friends on more than one occasion ) that I needed to go to this festival. So, being the go-with-the flow type of gal I am, I bought my festival ticket and flew from Berlin to London.
I arrived in England sporting a jacket in July.
I always thought I would move to London but coming here and seeing that the sun was rarely to be seen and rainfall came in abundance, I questioned whether I could survive in this type of weather. I hopped on a bus after asking strangers to borrow their phone to find which route to take, still phone-less after being robbed in Prague.
As I was on the bus on my way to my friend Jodie’s flat in East London, rain started POURING down accompanied by thunder and lightening . The only expression I can conjure up was , ‘you got to be kidding me’. My friends flat was an 18minute walk and I was carrying 30 kilos of luggage at 3 a.m. In the morning . I hopped off the bus and took on a fast paced walk until I found an open shawarma shop and asked them to call a taxi for me.
I got to Jodie’s flat ten minutes later , drenched from just walking for ten minutes in the rain trying to find that shop. Jodie opened her door with her signature smile and I quickly wound down , ready for Secret Garden Party to begin.
Jodie and I were camping in our own tent with her brother Mark. Mama Casey picked us up from the the train station and dropped the Casey Tribe off at the front where we passed police equipped with drug-sniffing dogs. We got through with 3 liters of vodka disguised as water and rushed to find the place that would be our home for the next 4 days. East side camping was supposed to be the happening spot so we chose a place by a tree as our designated landmark in case we were too intoxicated on any of the nights to find out where the tent was .
This spot happened to be the best place we could have picked.
Treating it as our home, we introduced ourselves to our current neighbors and welcomed newly arriving neighbors with vodka shots. It didn’t take long until our neighborhood became a family in itself.
The Casey Tribe headed off to the festival to explore . The whole place was amazing, different stages throughout the woods with hidden places that had all its attendees running around, wide-eyed and full of joy as we all took on child-like demeanors. That was the charm of the entire festival. We got to be children again. Hidden rooms throughout the festival made it a treasure hunt . The messiness of having it pouring down rain in the middle of the forest gave us a chance to be careless about appearances and having us live in the moment dancing away with the crowds. We accessorized with glitter, animal characters and tons of color. The more insane your outfit was, the better . And most importantly, it wasn’t a festival built with crowds of cliques and a nonsense showdown of “my group is better than yours”. People were here for the music, the art, and the beauty of new friendships.
Secret Garden Party was packed with moment-to-moment craziness, so I’m going to highlight moments that are too good not to be written.
The Casey crew was Jodie, Mark and I.
Jessica I had met in the Philippines with her boyfriend. She had met my friend Alyssa when all three of us took over Amsterdam together. She did everything in her power to make sure Alyssa would come and so Alyssa had been part of Jessica’s huge crew consisting of her boyfriend Ollie , best friend Bella and about 10 others.
Alana had came to the festival with her Burner family.
Alana, Alyssa and I and a neighbor camping by our tree probably were the only Non-English people in the entire festival. So much so, that people were asking why I was faking an American accent.
We set up camp by a tree like I said previously. This tree seemed to have attracted the best of the best. Our neighbors were a huge group of friends that had met at their University and most had worked on the art for one of the stages. They were festival in human form, even packing along an entire case filled with glitter, gems and face accessories. One of their tents embodied a circus tent, circular with a pointed rooftop and bands of color that made it a second landmark to the tree. Other neighbors were equally as friendly , Not forgetting to say hello when we would see each other and sit for a quick briefing of how crazy our days were getting. Day 2 we realized some gangsters had moved into the neighborhood, fist-fighting on more than one occasion but luckily the violence didn’t take place after a second fight and our neighborhood turned back into to the hippy tribe once more.
One night Alana and I met around 1 am to continue the festival together and not with our camp mates. We hid under shelter on and off as the rain poured down for what was the heaviest rainfall of the entire festival. We bounced around from stage to stage until the only Option left had been the 24 hour bar , a tent that had a boxing ring in the middle for partiers to dance in and benches lining up each end of the tent, mostly serving as a higher level dancing platform. Just as that morning proved to be the most rainy, it also was the most freezing with cold temperatures and a brutal wind that made us revere stepping outside the tent. Alana and I contemplated life itself as we bundled up close to stay warm. As we sat on one of the benches in the tent, we looked over and saw this small boxed building with a secret tunnel below as the only entrance to inside this giant rectangular box. Alana and I decided we should crawl through to tunnel to see if inside that box (mainly looking like a doorless shed) would serve as a warmer place than the bar. So, we left the tent got on our hands and knees and crawled through the muddy entrance, entering this box that would shortly be dubbed ‘the vortex’. It was small. Literally a box with no flooring even and four black chairs . A guy who had been playing with these flashing light orbs greeted us. We began talking and found out he had been in this box for 7 hours, which for this reason we decided to dub him The Godfather of the box (soon to be Godfather of the Vortex). All three of us sat in there for hours longer and watched as people came in and out of the box. We’d make up funny sayings to the newcomers as they entered and shortly, four of us were bonded deeply enough to call ourselves the Vortex family . Things got weird in there. From becoming the hub of where people continuously lost their phones to a girl crawling through the roof and entering the box that way, we sat huddled together laughing at a morning none of us would ever forget. At the end , we picked out names to call this box , one of them being the vortex because we all agreed it was a place you get stuck in. The family of four decided to emerge out of hiding and go dance at the 24 hour bar to mix it up a bit. That’s when Alana pointed to the DJ at the bar and on his shirt it read ‘vortex’. We took this as no coincidence and decided our box will now forever be called The Vortex.
I packed my bag to the festival with festival wear . Meaning as little coverage as possible and as much glitter and sparkles you could create a glittered army. The first night I lost Jodie and Mark I went to the tent to see if they had gone back to the camping ground. I unzipped the tent and found it empty. Defeated and cold , I looked and saw a new neighbor sitting by the circus tent. I went and sat and had a chat with him and found out he was waiting for his friends to come to get him. I asked if he had a jacket I could borrow and he said his friend coming did. Once his friend arrived I quickly asked for a jacket and he handed over this amazing long, cheetah print fur Coat. He asked only that I return it back because it had been a gift from his girlfriend as well as an alternative pillow for him to sleep on. Now finally warmed up enough to feel my fingers, I was ready to dance the night away along side my neighbors. We worked out a deal where each day I would return his jacket and each night When the temperature dropped, i would come knocking at his tent to wear the jacket once more. It suited me to a degree of perfection. Me being a tiny little thing, this jacket swallowed me up to the point all a person was able to see was a face full of glitter and a cheetah coat grooving to the beats of the DJs.
I spent the majority of Secret Garden Party getting lost . Day 1 while Jodie, Mark and I were dancing at the lake stage, I decided to run off to go on the swings that spin you in a circle. I went back to the stage after and couldn’t find them. So, I became a wanderer. I would see awesome groups of people in costumes who looked like a good time, walk up to them and say , ” I lost my friends , can I hang With you guys?”
It was always a yes.
Anytime I started to get bored , I’d thank them and wander off again until I found a new group I fancied. It was the greatest setup, like shopping around for groups that fit your style.
Day 2 Mark decided to give me 6 shots of vodka in the span of 30 minutes for breakfast. The last I remember, I was on my Mandala designed tapestry outside my tent and the next second I was with my American friend Alyssa and my English friend Jessica with her crew in the middle of the festival with Shoes on that weren’t mine. I stuck with them all day as we hopped from stage to stage , cutting bathroom lines and being the most ridiculous crew possible. Mark and Jodie didn’t end up seeing me until the next morning after when Alana and I wandered back after the Vortex at 11am. Saturday had been the only day I wasn’t lost but once more, Jodie , Mark and I continued to lose each other all of Sunday and into the early hours of Monday.
FAMILY ADVENTURE DAY:
I decided to create a family adventure day with Mark and Jodie. There were three hidden things at the festival for festival goers to find .
1. A hidden sunflower field
2. A secret room hidden filled hammocks
3. The Vortex
I first took them to the sunflower field. Alana and I found it the morning
Of the Vortex. We went to the toilet and when we opened the door to exit the porta-potty we looked straight ahead to a door wide open and at the end of a tunnel we saw the sunflower field.
Alana and I wanted to save the experience for the day after, where we would each experience the sunflower field separately with our camp mates.
The Casey Tribe walked around , grooving to the background music as we soaked in the warm views of a field of flowers.
Next stop was The Gay Brother Tent where the hidden hammock room was. I heard about it from other people at the festival. Apparently it was a hole in the wall you had to crawl through to get to this secret room. I walked past the stage with men in drag performing for an overly excited crowd. I began feeling around the entire inside of the tent, feeling the walls for an opening until I got to a part of the tent with the wall draped In camouflage. I lifted the bottom flap and there it was! The tunnel. We crawled through, walked past a fountain and to the left was this amazing star-covered tent with hammocks everywhere. Another treasure found! We sat in there swinging in the hammocks and chatting with other partiers in the room. We numbered so little compared to how many people attended the festival and I sat there amazed at the fact that most of the people at this festival will leave never knowing this room even existed .
Next stop… The Vortex.
The Vortex had been all I talked about both Saturday and Sunday and it was a must-see, although I knew it wouldn’t be the same because The Vortex Family was no longer in it. We were what made that box. That morning and all the events that happened made the Vortex what it was in my Mind that on family adventure day, it was more of a showing of the place where an amazing morning happened.
Family adventure day was such a hit that on Sunday I took Alyssa , Jessica , her crew and new crew members on a family
Adventure day part 2. It served as a Pause in between dancing and searching for another stage and everyone absolutely enjoyed the adventurous aspect of if looking for hidden gems.
‘TIL THE VERY END:
The only time I slept was Sunday morning at 2 am when my arms stopped being able to move and my legs felt like they were about to collapse. I woke up and got ready to dance until the very end . Alyssa came with Jodie,Mark and I and the four of us linked up with Jessica and her crew at the festival. Alyssa and I went from losing people to finding people but her and I remained together . I had felt bonded to Alyssa more than I ever had in my life that night. We were just so in sync with everything we did . All the stages ended early and Alyssa, Bella and I headed to the 24 hour bar where we found Jodie and Mark once more . We partied in the ring this time and watched as the hours and the crowd dwindled down until it was 6 am and the most hardcore of festival-goers were the last ones standing. Alyssa and I warmed our hands around a fire pit outside the 24 hour bar along with others not wanting to let the reality of the end of the festival sink in. Alyssa and I walked back, each step bringing another memory of all that had occurred and the sadness of having to leave each other. Her six months in Europe had come to an end and she was leaving back to San Francisco . We cuddled up together in an abandoned tent that was left behind by one of Jodie’s friends and slept for a few hours before having to say the ultimate goodbye.
It felt unreal. The end of it all.
It felt like the festival just started and leaving just didn’t feel right. I guess that is when you know you have had the time of your life. When the ending of it becomes the equivalence to having a tooth pulled.
Secret Garden Party was amazing . I got to be a kid again. I got to explore, dress up, dance with all my amazing friends and even made new ones. It’s times like this that makes me radiate with an unbreakable happiness. There’s a thousand more moments I wish I could write from trash picking in exchange for food to amount of numbers written on my arm to Security raids , to the many hunts for favors we did but some things deserve to remain just a memory.
P.S. To The Casey Crew :
Thick thighs makes the #%*+ rise . 😊