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Saving the best until last. 

Despite hearing conflicting reports on what to expect at Shambala Festival  I was pleasantly surprised at the size of the event and the diversity of weirdness on offer from the moment we arrived on site on Thursday afternoon. 

It did take some time to track down our workspace, as we had no map and refused to pay £5 for an “Adventure in Utopia” (AKA a programme).   After an enlightening wander across site with our laden trolley of camping essentials, I did consult a group of 16 year old stewards, who were rather vague on how to operate their radios to ask Production where it was we needed to go.  Eventually an elusive map was found and our space located (a mere 50m from where we were stood).

Caught up with our Angel Gardens Crew and pitched up the Pink Growler right behind the Cabaret Marquee & the Travelling Community Liaison Tent (there’s no escaping them!).   Delighted to discover that none of our activities were scheduled to begin until 1pm, with all our dance sessions timetabled for no earlier than 2pm!  Crackin’!

I suffered my first injury of the weekend whilst unpacking the car when I smacked my left temple on the camping trolley!   Second one came at the tent when unloading the trolley & I got in the way of a pinging bungee cord & spent the weekend with a scratch on my throat!

SB was nackered after her exertions in the Alps on her health camp, so opted for an early night once we’d explored a bit.    I spent the evening round the campfire with the rest of the Crew drinking lager, cider and rum & coke.

Music levels were manageable so didn’t even need my MP3 to drown out the bass when I finally went to bed.   I was looking forward to Friday because the man like DTR was going to bunk in over the fence with his homemade wristband after a trip to Hobbycraft, once I’d text him details of the design.  More on that later…

Although Saturday was meant to be the fancy dress day, this hadn’t deterred many, who were outrageously attired (or in some cases, not attired much at all).  Glitter was in full effect. Wigs were plentiful.  Comedy signage was also there in spades:-

Sign at the ‘Shambarbers’

Shit emptying truck tells no lies

It says what it says

For the same (in fact £1 less) than Magic Loungeabout, there were numerous music venues, including the Main Stage, the Kamikaze stage, which was a Roller Disco in the morning, a Ping Pong tournament in the afternoon, a circus big top at dusk and hosted DJ’s and acts in the evening.

The Social Club, decked out like a full-on Saloon Bar, hosted high wire acts, comedians and DJ’s (including Bez from Happy Mondays) of an evening.

In the centre of the site was a huge white flying saucer which opened up as a nightclub after dark, where we were greeted by hostesses clad in silver Basques firing red lasers from their boobs. 

The Lost Picture Show cinema had a full schedule of films on throughout the day and a cocktail bar.  The Chai Wallah tent always had great music and there must have been at least 6 or 7 other hidden venues.  My favourite was probably the People’s Front Room where in the early hours of Saturday morning my friend and I sang & danced along with a honky tonk piano man to Jack Rabbit Slim as we lolled around on a very comfy couch. 

There were also several mobile venues – a firm favourite being the Police Rave Unit, which surprised SB when she thought there was a raid on or something.  The van pulled up all sirens wailing and opened up to reveal a DJ box within and full on rave following behind.  That’s my kind of police brutality!



Tiny Venue – Big Atmosphere

Being without kids I was determined to party even if I had to go solo, but Friday night I got word from DTR that he and his mates were IN and on their way to find me.   I was on Fire Marshall detail for the Fire Show, fucking with people’s heads as I stood among others, holding a circle of bunting in the middle of the walkway while we waited what seemed like an age for it to start.  “What’s going on here then?” asked a bemused alcohol casualty as we blocked his path.  “Bunting Holding Contest I replied.  “Cool” says he, as he shambled off into the darkness toward the Healing Meadow. 

Fire Show done, my Hi-Vis was OFF and so was I, into the crowd.  SB had gone to bed again but my word, did she miss a cracker of a night.   Tracked down DTR near the Helter Skelter and made our way to the Bearded Kitten (I seem to be following them around this year) Shambolympic arena to get a great view of the site and of The Selecter on the main stage.   I was so happy to see my old mate – just like old times, atop the highest possible vantage point, getting fucked up.  Nice!  

Me & DTR. (The pic is fucked up cos the photographer was too)

We had a good float around the site, trying in vain to bag a pod at the Pod Cafe.  Even when Garyman threw himself into one of the pools in protest, nobody was prepared to relinquish their seat in a pod so we gave up and wandered down to Angel Gardens. Collected Mandy and she led us down the Enchanted Woods.  

Many a year at festivals have I missed out on what is now forever known as ‘The Ewok Village’.  A mystical place that only seems to be there at night – a festival Brigadoon if you will.  Something I usually never get to see because I’m in the tent with the childerbeast while Bman larges it.  This time it was my turn though  🙂   By the time we went down in the woods, it was no Teddy Bear’s Picnic!  Casualties abounded among the disco balls strung up in bird cages. The huge Machu Pichu pyramid built from Yorkie & Milky Bar wrappers; the giant pulsating jellyfish dangling in the trees that played different sounds when you tinkled with its tenatacles.  Sculptures created from kitchen utensils loomed from the undergrowth, & in the middle of it all, an eco dome full of ravers, ripped to the tits on whatever they could get their hands on.  Everything from shit cheap cider, mCat, E’s, weed, coke; that nitrous oxide shit and good old fashioned Miss T Quila for me.  (Not sure that taking a bottle the old Blue Agave plant extract in one of my kids school lunch bottles was a good idea – I’ll make sure I rinse it thoroughly before they go back to school.  If not, it might make their lunchtime a lot more interesting!) 

Yum yum

The Ewoks were all in bed

When DTR & his pals pulled some young spewers, Mand & I had a Brandy Chai then basically larged it round the site, making cameo appearances at every convievable music venue. 

We raved in the UFO Club. We bogled & shook some booty to some Dancehall at the Social Club. We politely declined the generous offer of a threeway with Trev, who resembled a tortoise with a mohawk at the Chai Wallah tent, then finished the night in the People’s Front Room, where it is permanently 3:35am (as we discovered after god knows how long). 

I don’t know what time we called it a day. I just know I had a bloody great night and that I got into my sleeping bag just as the rain came down & that I felt absolutely fine in the morning – no ill effects whatseover.  Quality!.

(I never thought I’d ever bounce along to this one again in a public place either! And that was just while I was waiting in a queue for some food! Dedicated to my old bro Dave)  and it still gives me the goosebumps!


Saturday brought further injury when thanks to my shitty peripheral vision I failed to see a 6ft light rig and smacked my forehead head on it!   It was also officially fancy dress day so the freaks didn’t bother to wait to come out at night.  They were in full ensemble from quite early on.  I tried to photograph as many as I could but there were just too many of them.  I was glad I hadn’t bothered to attempt fancy dress, as nothing I could have cobbled together would have compared – particularly to this:-

Mine look similar without the prosthetic makeup!

We saw;- Teenwolf, The Royal Family, The Bradley Wiggins Appreciation Society, Dastardly & Mutley and Penelope Pitstop; naked people, hairy people, scary babies, a live Girls World; Mexican Day of the Dead drummers; 3 Marios & a Luigi; big hair, no hair, high hair, foam hair, robots; several Tim Burton characters; daleks; a horse pushing a pram; about 2-dozen bees and any amount of wrestlers and men finding any excuse to dress as women.

As we sat in the sun waiting for the parade to start, a squadron of Army paramedics appeared from nowhere. (The S*M*A*S*H*E*D Paralytic Response Team).  They anounced that “This lady looks unwell”.  I realised they were looking at me (though I thought I looked fine).  Before I knew it I was surrounded.  They administered First Aid in the form of vodka and brandy down my throat, CPR, Mouth to Mouth,  a huge plaster on my shin and a bandage around my head; then made me skip infront of the masses of people watching before announcing me fit and well and giving me a release sheet which stated that I’d had leeches, a butt plug and a lobotomy!  Then they were gone into the crowd as quickly as they had appeared. 

SB has action shot pictures which I am sure are beautifully flattering & she will make sure she doctors them with skin enhancing tones and highlights before publishing them on Facefuck!

I managed to fire off one pic before I was jumped by the leader of the Team – a female sargeant major nurse type who almost sucked my face off.

Nurse! The screens please!

Recovered from my ambush and after watching the parade we had our dinner in the staff canteen and I managed to find out that DJ Yoda, who I really wanted to see, was on that night on the main stage at 8pm.  I would be there by any means necessary.  Fortunately I didn’t have to abandon my Angel Gardens duties, as I wasn’t expected back there until 9pm for the Lantern Parade.  SB had no excuses of bedtime so the poor girl dutifully sat in the cold on a haybale, watching a DJ she had never heard of, because I told her he was one of the Top DJ’s to see live before you die.  In fairness she could have kept warm by dancing with me on the bales but chose to sit it out 🙂

Atop highest podium – as per…

what I had been waiting for… & well worth it!

I also got to see Roots Manuva, which was good because I missed them at Beacons when I went to bed in a grump because of the rain.  Rain later on & the fact that DTR pulled again, curtailed my Saturday night partying & I gave up fighting against it and was back  in the Pink Growler making a pot noodle by 12:15.  The wind felt like it was going to blow the tent away so I deployed the MP3 and slept to the sound of my eclectic mix of music. 

Sunday morning, we decided to risk the Shambala Springs Spa and I’d love to report that it was a blissed out experience but I’d be lying. 

Showering in a supposed hot shower (a hosepipe attached to an apparently defunct boiler) only served to chill me to the bone.  The cheap plastic shower curtain kept attacking SB, which admittedly funny from the outside (wish I’d had my camera), did nothing to convince either of us that we had made the right choice.   The hot tubs were not hot (nor were they time machines).  They did contain, I noticed with some distate (and my mouth firmly closed) a few rogue curlies, likely as a result of all the naked people.  Clothing was ‘Optional’ and ‘nakedness encouraged’.  Cocks & cunts akimbo – particularly in the ungraceful entry to the pool we chose, which had a lovely helpful step up to it but not one within, so an inelegant straddle was required to get in and out.  I know more about seveal ladies gynocology then I needed to after Sunday morning let me tell you! 

I’m not prudish (well, ok, maybe a little) but it did seem a bit of an excuse for any old lech to pay £5 to go beaver spotting. Well 40 years old & past my prime I may be, but it’ll cost more than £5 to cop a blim of my ladyparts!  I expect, nay, demand, at least a full night out, with chips & curry sauce on the way home and the promise of another date before I’ll flash my quim!

I’d have been better off squatting under one of  the on site water taps & spending my fiver on the Pieminister stall – less hairs on their pies.

Another bash on the head in the afternoon on the same lighting rig that I hadn’t seen the day before and another fight with the trolley when packing up and I was about done injurywise for the weekend.  Probably just as well that I chose not to handle any of the tropical creatures at the mini petting zoo.

After our last craft session with the Angels, we checked out the Shambolympics.  Crazy Bearded Kitten lot giving people poppers, spinning them round and then getting them to do the high jump onto some inflatable sumo suits… It gave me some ideas for livening up Sports Day at school next year – not sure how the new head will like them though!

Favourite overheard soundbites of the weekend have to include the 2 confused sloaney looking 16 year old girls in the queue for the loos; “Oh I see darling, if the lock is on red it means someone is inside – we need to wait until it goes green”  (FFS!) and a posh young lad at the Red Bus (not the same one from on the way to York) saying “Right! I’m looking for a small Malaysian man”

What could possibly go wrong?

As we left for the car, a night early (a bit gutted I missed the Big Burn on Sunday night, but hey ho). I got to see the flying nun again – a motorized grand piano driven and played by a man dressed as a nun, singing Club Tropicana – You couldn’t make this shit up!  About sums up the whole experience really. 

In the words of one of my best mates- Brilliantly Bonkers!

So that’s my festival season over for 2012 but I’m open to invitations if there are any parties on the go, as long as they don’t involve  old hippies who look like a tortoise with a mohawk!

Official Shamabala pics available on this link:


About TheDHW

Not loathed by totally everyone so that's good right?

2 responses »


    In NO WAY were Angel Gardens Crew & Management aware of, or condoned any assistance I may have given to anyone getting in over the fence. These people were attempting to get in anyway and in the end, needed no assistance from me. I apologise for any embarrassment caused to Sam O’ Brien or anyone from the Angel Gardens family.

  2. I hope that the leeches did the job. Can I have the butt plug back please?
    At your service.


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