Waxin’ the Palace; Chatting to the Man Who Convinced Wiltshire Council to Have a Rave!

All the local mainstream are on it like a fly on a turd, and the negativity of keyboard warriors is flowing fast and furious. Who am I to steer off the bandwagon, yet you know we’ll handle the news Wax Palace obtained permission for a “rave festival” to happen near Erlestoke with a slightly different angle……

An angle much less based upon the fact your esteemed editor had a youth some indeterminable time yonder, where he gyrated in muddy fields with eyes like saucers, masticating the shit out of a Wrigley’s Doublemint, and more on the notion, I hope, that while we have a great music scene in these backwaters, there is little to tickle our younger resident’s tastebuds. This then, is great news, surely?

But is raving still a progressive thing, or does it dabble largely in retrospection? And what exactly will this Wax Palace provide in the way of entertainment? Harry, one of the organisers, a man who unbelievably convinced Wiltshire Council, conservative at the best of times, to grant them permission to hold what’s best described, to avoid media confusion, as a “rave festival;” can he sell ice to Eskimos, or what?! In a short chat with him, I suspected he could.

He giggled at the question, “we’d do our best, that’s for sure! It’s been a bit of a task, but we got it through, and they seemed very with it, during the hearing.” Throughout Harry projected himself as level-headed, reliably assured of the achievement of Kaleidoscope, the name of the event.

The first myth from the Gazette’s report to dispel is that these guys are bundling down from Yorkshire to ruin our peaceful community, when Harry explained the company is only registered there, and he lives close to Erlestoke himself. “The group who first run it were students in Leeds,” he explained, “but we’re very much Wiltshire born and bred.” Herewith the reason for bringing it to Devizes.

Promoting this today is neither here nor there, they’ve a solid base and early bird tickets have already sold out for the estimated 800 strong event. “This is our third edition of the festival,” he said with me interrupting about how to define it, “it is very much a festival, but we hope it has the apogee of a rave, though licenced, as the articles have focused on. It started as one night event, next time it was two, now we’ve got the full weekend, and our largest line-up yet.”

To spoil my queries of disambiguation, musically, Kaleidoscope will offer the whole range of rave subgenres, from house and disco to techno to drum & bass; “you name it will be there!” But this only got me pondering the setup, if it would, as legendary pay-raves like Universe’s Tribal Gatherings once attempted, to host each subgenre in a different tent. Because much as this appeased the then evolution of the diversity, it tended to clash into one immense noise when central! “We don’t have genre-split tents,” Harry clarified, “they’re split more-so by their set design. We’ve got three stages, one indoors, another outdoor, in which we’re shaping out an old school bus for the DJ’s, which should be really fun.”

Harry jested jealously at me rapping about raves of yore like Universe, “we missed that golden era, but we very much like to be inspired by the ethos.” This is great, though I’m trying to avoid an Uncle Albert moment where I preach on memory lane, but it does bring to question how niche is the market, does Harry think rave is either coming back, or it never really lost its appeal?

“I think it is coming back, commercially, perhaps it did lose a bit of what it was meant to be. In the last few years, I’ve heard people referring to their club nights as raves. I think the term rave now covers something broader and less political than it did, originally.” Harry hopes it does come back, encouraged to bring back those original values.

Though I’d suggest, rave was apolitical, it wasn’t until government interjected with the Justice Bill post-Castlemorton which both forced it underground and for ravers to think politically. Originally it was solely a celebration of life, and to party, and that really was our only objective. Which neatly covers another misconception; we raved everywhere and anywhere, if it meant standing in a muddy field, or if it meant going clubbing, location was irrelevant, so long as we could blow off steam and dance!

And herein lies my pitch at why I think this is a fantastic addition to our local events, because if you’re the first to complain about this, I sure hope you’re not the same one whinging about acts of anti-social behaviour in youth culture. If Wax Palace can provide a safe haven for young to go and enjoy themselves, it’s surely a positive.

Wiltshire Council were keen to label this a festival rather than a rave, as rave connotes to some to be an illegal, uncontrolled gathering. I say, this is the name of the genre, and doesn’t relate to illegal gatherings at all. After the Justice Bill the scene became anarchistic in frustration to the restrictions, but it never began like this. There was a sense of one big family, a tribal movement, and it was all about smiles. This, I feel is an important point to reduce this common misconception, and something Harry was also keen to express. “We’ve worked really hard to build a real sense of community,” he explained.

Today, of course, the original ravers have come of age, and organisations like Raver Tots have marketed retrospection in the form of taking your kids to a rave, but throughout our chat I got the feeling the ethos of Wax Palace was much more progressive, about introducing “rave; the next generation,” and that’s good to hear. “We like the idea through the way we organise events and our approach will introduce the idea of raving to a market who are only just coming to an age where they’re able to go to clubs. So, it’s nice to think we have the chance in shaping that impression they have. For a lot of people, this could be their first music festival, and for it to be local and described as a rave would be really exciting; exactly what I’d wish I’d have had in my village when I was 18.”

Tickets are here, Kaleidoscope takes place from 2nd-5th September.

Avoid negativity of misconceptions bought about by a bygone era, well organised and safe pay raves have happened since day dot, and providing youth with entertainment is paramount to building bridges; Wax Place, I salute you!


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Bit of a Shindig; The Most Luxurious Festival in The West?

Glamping and other plush extras add to the allure of a modern-day festival, but how far are you willing to go to make your festie experience that bit more luxurious? Established dance festival Shindig, which takes place 26th-29th May in the glorious grounds of the Dillington Estate in Somerset, boasts the only festival in the UK with a hotel on site, and I don’t mean slumming in a Travelodge!

“You can either stay in the beautiful main 18th Century Dillington House,” they announced, “or in the incredible contemporary Hyde complex.” The Superior Rooms are the largest and most luxurious, which are mostly found in the Hyde. Many come with their own private decking or balconies with views over the stunning Somerset countryside. Plus, hotel guests have their very own entrance straight into the festival, so you won’t miss any of the action.

And that action is headliners De La Soul and Roy Ayers, with a massive host of live acts and DJs, including Nightmares on Wax, and Don Letts with Terry Hall, its own after-hours nightclub with Goldie playing among others, and a general good vibes atmosphere where the entire family is catered for. There’s the Kids Kingdom, which will be fully programmed with activities to keep them busy during the day, and performance shows and cinema for kids.

Okay, big question, yeah, hotel rooms start from £1,000 for four nights bed & breakfast, but this includes secure parking, room service, bar and restaurant. Other boutique camping options are bell tents, yurts and squirts, airstreams, or bring your own camper with a £70 in advance ticket.

All this wows me, how far the festival scene has come, and Shindig truly is a testament, for the glitzy side of dance music. But in this, it got me reminiscing of the downside to festivals of yore, lying flat in the cheapest prism one-man tent money could buy, with a burnt-out tealight, a little pond of muddy Special Brew and grass blades, telling myself it was all part of the festival experience!

Once, camping halfway up the side of an Andalusian Mountain, graduated to a dome tent, yet having to anchor my feet in the sleeping bag in a bottom corner and fasten myself diagonally across, supported either side by my rucksack and other paraphernalia, in order to prevent waking to find myself, and all my gear too, slumped into the bottom corner like I did on the first morning!

I find myself thinking back to people-watching at a bygone murky Glasto, where within the mud-drenched surrounding akin to an apocalyptic movie, I perchance to spot a glamorous young girl dressed totally in white, white leggings, white top and trainers. She was just standing there, in the midst of it all, spotless and looking horrified at the desolation around her. With frazzled mind I had to ponder how she’d even got that far, I mean, without resembling everyone else, who were covered head-to-toe in mud and shit.      

The only conclusion I could muster was teleportation, but I’m now certain of one thing, that chick needed Shindig, possibly more than anyone! Phew, if I were her, or you, I’d get my ticket here, forget the past and relish in the festival indulgence of a new era!


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