Since 2004, Glade has flown a flag of independent spirit for UK dance music festivals. Originating from the popular Glade arena at Glastonbury, it took its underground concept onto a larger scale with great success, and by 2008, had won the UK Festival Awards' coveted ‘Best Dance Festival’. Glade’s passionate group of organisers have always strived to create a unique and community led atmosphere, combining a wide range of music with art installations, circus acts and healing villages to create an all round good vibe.
In 2011, Glade returned after a year out to a fantastic reception at a new venue; Houghton Hall in Suffolk. Having settled into the large estate with much success, it returns in 2012 stronger and more exciting than ever, promising the same carefully curated mix of established underground dance legends, and rising names from the bleeding edge of UK dance music culture.
The line up this year includes fourteen different stages… although to call them ‘stages’ is to do them something of a disservice! You can add a madcap roller disco and a crashed alien spaceship deep in the forest onto your festival to-do list at Glade. During the weekend, you’ll also be able to discover worlds of psy-trance, techno, dancehall and chillout, which you might not have expected to be popping off to in deepest Sussex…
Meanwhile, back in some semblance of reality, the main stages see headline performances from the likes of Sven Vath, Toddla T, Vitalic, Andy C and Rusko. An impressive roster of acts at any festival, but at Glade, they truly are just the tip of a unique iceberg.
To fill us in on this year’s bash, festival organiser Anselm Guise took time out from his busy schedule getting the rave in order, to fill us in on what to expect from this year’s Glade Festival. Anselm has been planning raves since 1990 during his time at Bristol University, was soon working in Ibiza with clubs like Amnesia, and now has taken his dancefloor vision out into the country with Glade, with as much enthusiasm as ever
Glade had a new home last year, Houghton Hall. You had a quick turnaround in getting it off the ground. How did it go?
Yes, the original venue changed their mind last minute, literally weeks before. And, I had my wedding at around the same time, so it was very stressful. Hougton Hall stepped in last minute, and it turned out to be a much better site for us. But it was a bit tricky, we had to rejiggle lots of site plans, lots of management protocols, but we pulled it off and it was a cracker. But it’s been nice to have a year to plan it, rather than three weeks...
And now this year you’ve got more scope to do things that weren’t possible with the site last year?
Yes, we’ve just had a lot ore time to be creative. The Estate didn’t know us, we were moving fast, and they hadn’t had a festival like ours on there before. So some trust needed to be gained, but they’ve said they love the way we ran the event and they’ve let us use the woodlands for this year’s event. That’s really exciting, as Glade, obviously, is very much about nature and the English countryside.
And what can we expect in the woods?
We’ve got two proper stages we’re putting deep into the woods. The return of a Psy-trance stage called Liquid, which is back for this year, and it’s an indoor and outdoor thing that’s going to run until 8 in the morning, so lots of sunrises… And we’ve another stage called The Meteor, which is really exciting. It’s going to be in a crash site of a spacecraft. The sub-bass is actually beneath the dancefloor, and the DJ is going to be in the cockpit hanging in the trees. And there’s also going to be lots of twinkliness to get lost in.
So have you been involved with Glade from the start?
Yes, there we four of us from the start. Me and another organiser, Nick, did some big psy-trance raves out in Africa. Then he did the original Glade at Glastonbury, hooked up with some other organisers, and then the four of us, one day at Glastonbury, decided to do it as its own thing.
The festival is known for a genuine community feel. Is that something that naturally occurs, or what do you do in regards to the design and the planning of the festival to encourage that kind of vibe?
Well, obviously there are hundreds of sort of party crews across the country, and across the planet, and they all have a sort of tribal community attitude. And we always wanted to get those people involved with the festival itself, the décor, and the sound, the DJs. It’s not just about booking big names. We let them make the space themselves, it’s quite participatory, people come with their friends. And you ultimately find people who come for the IDM, suddenly over at a psy-trance stage having their mind blown.
The line-up is genuinely quite leftfield and underground in many respects, which reflects that.
Yes, at the end of the day, there’s a lot of faffing around with branding, which is fine in some ways, people need to make a living. But when you’re organising a big party anywhere – a field in Sussex, a beach in California, wherever – it’s about good tunes, good people and good vibes. Just having a great time, and the rest is rubbish. And you can only tap into that energy if you hook up with people who are doing it because they like doing it.
There’s a lot of real cutting edge bass music on this year too, which I personally am really into, and that’s one of the best selections I’ve seen alone.
That’s our organisers from Bristol, the whole South West crew. That’s what I mean, getting the right people involved. We’re also keen not to make any ‘toxic bookings’. There are acts out there that are very popular but would immediately put off your core base of fans.
- Date: Thursday 14th June 2012
- Event: Glade Electronic Arts Festival at Houghton Hall
- Venue: Houghton Hall
- Artists: Andy C, Toddla T, Sven Vath, Krafty Kuts, DRUMSOUND & BASSLINE SMITH, Dub Pistols, The Correspondents, Stanton Warriors, Rusko, Max Cooper, Dynamite MC, Foreign Beggars, MC Serocee, Robert Babicz, A Skillz, System 7, Vitalic, Extrawelt, Pretty Lights
See the line-up for Glade Festival 2012
It’s a difficult balance to get right though, to keep the festival growing but attract the right crowd?
We spend a lot of our overall budget on the experience of the festival, as well as the acts. And many big names are starting to cost absolutely ridiculous amounts of money. So the décor and the site-art are just as important, and we’ve managed to avoid temptation to plough all our money into booking just big acts, and our crowd have sort of realised that the show’s at a different level. And the artists we have playing get to play with great production – great sound, great lighting – and get very excited, and often play at a different time than they might elsewhere.
You’re also a staunchly independent festival. Is that something that’s difficult to achieve, or would you just not do it any other way regardless?
No sponsorship, none of that. Everything we do is contributed by people who do it because they really love it, and have a good time doing it. I don’t know anything other, really. The reason we went with Secret Productions, who are also responsible for the likes of The Secret Garden Party and Wilderness, is because they genuinely share the same ethos as us. Experience and content first, even if we’re wondering how to pay for it after!
With just over three months to go, what stage are you at now in undertaking the planning of the festival? Are you pretty deep in?
We’re pretty deep in. We’re getting down to the nitty gritty of the site plan, the marketing has kicked in, and we’ve still a few more things to announce artist wise, which is pretty exciting. It’s looking really good.
Is the weekend itself tough for you, or do you enjoy it?
Oh I really enjoy it, to put that much work into something and see dancefloors popping off, all the smiling faces, the pretty girls and the happy guys and the rest of it. Sunday is normally the nicest. Friday, you’re just making sure everyone is alright, and by Sunday, any problems have been ironed out, the sun usually shines and it feels like a job well done. I love it, it’s pretty stressful and a lot of hard work, but I wouldn’t do anything else.
Words: John Thorp
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Originally published: 19th Mar 2012