More about: Big Chill
After a hectic festival season so far, what I needed was a festival at which you could simply relax and be yourself. Therefore Big Chill festival appeared, at least in name, to be the solution.
For me it was not all about chilling out though: I volunteered as a steward for Oxfam and happily swapped some party time for a free ticket to the festival and that great feeling you get when you know you are making a difference to Oxfam’s lifesaving work (as stewards we give our time and work for free and the charity receives a large donation from festival organisers in exchange).
The campsite and facilities can make a huge difference when you are working. It’s not that great to have to make a 5am trip to a dirty Portaloo before starting an eight-hour shift. Big Chill proved different from all my past experiences: it had the cleanest toilets I’ve ever seen at a festival. Having arrived from a rather manic London on Wednesday afternoon, it was also fantastic to see a campsite situated in a plush valley, sparkling with sunshine.
My friend and I registered with the Oxfam stewards' leaders and received our shift allocations: a total of around 25 hours of voluntary work during the festival. We were both very pleased to discover that we were working twice at The Revellers Tent, the second largest music venue on site - even if it did mean working through the night.
Another nice surprise was meeting a few of my friend’s university housemates who were also working for Oxfam. We pitched our tent near them: rather wisely, they had brought along a gazebo, a social must for the seasoned festival-goer, and thanks to this outdoors sitting room we made friends with plenty of other Oxfam volunteers. I was surprised that many were looking forward to The Chemical Brothers rather than Kanye West’s only performance in the UK this summer.
A well-organised festival and good-mannered crowd meant that during my shifts I didn't get a constant stream of people coming to ask questions, and that I could enjoy the music almost as much as anyone else. In fact, while working in The Revellers Tent I got to experience the energy of Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings and the sublime two-minute improvised rap by Devlin, which was a real privilege when combined with the fact that I was also helping Oxfam at the same time.
However what really made the festival for me, and I’m sure for the five other Oxfam volunteers that accompanied me, was working on the set of The Electric Hotel, a choreographed theatrical experience that aimed to tell the tale of goings-on in a 1930s hotel. The audience were given headphones while we had to pretend to make small-talk in the penthouse bar of a four-storey mock hotel set. It wasn’t what I was expecting to be doing at the festival, but then again the entire weekend proved to exceed my original expectations.
The Big Chill - Best Bits In Photos
More about: Big Chill