First, before you walk into the main arena, you wander through a small wooded area, where the trees are tall and the canopies tower over you, shading you from the sky. At the entrance, a small, blond, curly-haired girl takes you by the hand and leads you further into the trees, where everything is mossy and the air damp. She weaves you in-between Gladers but you haven’t quite found your gentle, gliding, footing yet, and instead stumble over raised tree roots. She treads over into a small clearing; The Tavern, which has a crackling fire warming a few talking people and a small stage in the corner where live dub plays-out, pulling you toward it.
The front man, playing his trombone, throws out his sounds in all directions, while symbols crash in the background. With every smash the sound is blown directly into you as if, with every crash, shoals of silvery symbol-fish sporadically emerge and swim in spirals around you. The wind picks up and takes part too and cork screws up behind you, lifting up your hair. The girl dances, pushing her arms out into the wind and brushes her fingers into the shoal of symbol-fishes as they swim past. She swings round and twists her body and looks like she, herself, is making this happen by conjuring the wind; bellowing it up with her arms and throwing the air about with the music. When you join her in dance, then, you feel it. You exhale and throw your arms and body into the twist and feel everything in this moment coming together and you are both dancing in it, wind people. “Are you feeling this too?” “Yes,” you say. “Yes, I am.” You dance until the song ends and the moment passes. You both move away from the Tavern, your step a little lighter now.
The spiral stage is next along the woodland path. It projects techno-squidge that makes you crouch down and squiggle through the air like an urchin slopping out of the sea and squirming on dry land. You wriggle yourself through the rippling air, which has become quite gloopy and trails are left by your hands, as they move with the music. You take a seat, the ground is pretty damp but not to soggy to sit on and your attention is drawn to a contact juggler levitating two clear balls. Around his hands hover two large, rotating, drops of rain. They reflect the bulbous perspective of the woodland gathering of techno-squelchers. You zoom in closer and see the fine fibres of an eye, starring out from a pupil, staring at you. A cold shiver runs from the base of your spine, up your neck, lifting all your hairs erect and you quiver. Something about this doesn’t feel quite right, so you backwards role and stand up, balanced, walk in the direction you landed on and breeze onwards.
As you come to the fringe of the forest area the leaf rustling quietens. You reach an opening into the vast green arena where little wind wizards whip passed your ears. The arena has taverns, tipis, tents and stalls, all adorning the surprisingly dry field, like a charm necklace of dangling trinkets. You walk out into what feels like a fantastical village as everyone seems settled into the Glade way of life. Couples walk arm-in-arm, a pregnant woman stands bare foot on the grass near the Origin stage soaking up the psy-beats, groups of friends lay in cuddle-puddles on the floor, looking up at the clouds and pointing, walkers engrossed in conversation, sporadically throwing their heads back in hysterics.
You begin to make your way over to a giant wooden pyramid. A man in a top hat and cowhide waistcoat crouches over like a gremlin and begins to nibble at your ankles; clicking his tongue and snipping his hands like a lobster while he does. After a brief nibbling moment, he scuttles off and straightens his back, walks on as normal and becomes man again. And then you proceed onto the giant wooden pyramids in the centre of the grounds.
A garage-kind of music is being played but only the segment of the bouncy bass is really fun to sponge around in. You notice everyone seems to be walking as if the ground is placed on springs and your legs are pushed up by the ground when you tread down. Then a pitch, quite high in the scale, came into sound and remained there momentarily, but moved lower and higher as if you could hold it between your thumb and index finger and twist like a dial. The sound system there had been set up in a circle and when you stood in the middle of it the sound came at you from all directions, hitting you in the centre. You feel like there is no centre and you get blown away by the sound. All passing clouds have moved on and the sun comes out. Everyone dancing looks at each other in appreciation of being there together; happy dancing people who all feel amazing, lifted and partying together.
Two space cadets come over to you in the pyramids and invite you to jump into a space ship with them. The two have completely left this land and are glading. They hand you over a glow stick and ask you to be the pilot and to lead the way. You take the stick, confused at first, but soon begin to walk away from the Pyramids. As you walk, the cadets are at first out of site, you look round to see if you can see them and they are nowhere in vision. You turn around to carry on walking. Quickly, one cadet zips passed your ear and then out of sight again. Another zooms up behind your back, sending prickles up your neck again, and whizzes passed your ear and out in front of you, circling you as you walk, like electrons in an atom.
You sail the ship around the arena passed a man sitting on the floor alone, comfortably so, with his eyes closed, snaking his head slightly to the music with a widening smile. You fly past a girl standing and dancing to what is being played through a set of wooden head phones. You study the chord, which is string and follow it with your eyes to the ground, which everyone is springing up and down on; the heartbeat of glade, the festival bass lines – yum.
You manoeuvre the ship over to a mouth of a tunnel and guide it, and crew, carefully down into the dark mouth. As you all carefully crawl down, you and the space cadets inquisitively poke your noses into the dark crevasses until you come out of the other end. You find yourself in a kind of cabaret lounge with a band of foxes in top hats, tails coats, trombones and snare drums, playing ever so slightly off key carnival music. They come prowling up to you, as you finding your bearings and brush you with their towels.
Sitting within the foxes is a group of forty-plus year old men, one of them wearing pink frilly nickers on his head. You take a seat nearby and begin to construct yourself a smoke. He tells you that they are all on a stag do: “We could have gone anywhere, anywhere, Barcelona, Goa, Portugal, but no, he wanted to come here, to Glade. I mean, of course we followed.” He tells you that they have been partying together for twenty years. One of his friends puts on a pair of orange-lensed glasses to look through with a new perspective, and he stares around at the foxes, the pink nickers, the cabaret set-up, and the tunnel and started rolling around the floor in hysterics and then said, out of breath: “I must take these off because my eyes are beginning to sweat.”
Pretty soon the space ship was massive and held the whole festival and beyond. After listening to so much music you have rhythm running through you and the music, even when stopped for a small while, still carries on and everyone in the festival is playing with it. Words started turning into noises and noises spoke more than words. Even when leaving Glade you have the rhythm pulsing through you. Your shoulders role smoothly and you feel balanced and cat-like. The old knots that were there before have now been loosened and the old tensions lost. Glade is your healer.