Glastonbury Or The Expensive, Muddy Catwalk

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After last year’s break, the mother of all festivals is upon us again. Glastonbury is currently in full swing and it appears that The Rolling Stones made quite the impact last night.

Festival organiser’ Michael Eavis’ long standing dream finally materialised when he got The Stones to appear on the Pyramid stage. He has been quoted as saying that their Glastonbury debut was ‘the high spot of the festival in 43 years’.

Fees for the most expensive band on earth have not been disclosed, but who cares, it is after all about the music –  or is it?

Well, it’s not totally clear anymore what Glastonbury is all about these days. Sure, we know that music is still the main reason for the 135.000 revellers to suffer through the mud and madness of the event and flock to Somerset to see the hundreds of bands appear on the many stages dotted across the farmland.

The atmosphere has been described as incredible and unique in its genre. In all these years, nobody has ever said anything but that

Having said that, there is no denying that in the past decades, Glastonbury, has turned into an elite festival where music for the masses has been replaced with music for the certain classes.

At £205 per ticket for a four days’ event (+ £5 booking fee per ticket + £6 P&P), and factoring in the cost of trains and coaches to and from, car parking, food and drinks on the grounds, it’s not exactly like people living on the breadline will be able to partake in the annual musical feast. The cost for a couple going to Glastonbury would be around £600 to £700 – minimum. Needless to say that for this amount, you could spend a week abroad in the sun and still have money left for the duty free shop upon returning home. Then again, you won’t get to see the best music around (minus Rita Ora and the Mumford lot) whilst slapping on coconut oil on a Spanish costa.

For the rich, richer and very rich, there is also the option to stay clear from the hoi polloi. They can for instance hire a tipi (a more luxurious tent but one where any comfort must be brought in from home) at £950 for the duration of the festival. Also for hire are the opulent yurts, which are all dressed up with Egyptian bed linen, side boards and candles and can be yours for around £3000. Mick Jagger slept in a yurt. But even though Mr Jagger’s bank account rises up to the moon, he still didn’t stretch himself all the way like the Rooneys did by hiring a £6000 Winnebago. Wayne and Coleen Rooney, who arrived by helicopter to the festival (well it’s only natural) also treated their friends to £3500 podules: boutique style hotel rooms on the grounds.

That just shows you, even festivals allow people to demonstrate wealth and prestige.

But it’s not only the cost and expenses that have changed when it comes to festivals as these days, you can find cash points, mobile charging docks, weird and wonderful shops, food stalls offering world cuisine and delicacies, and you can drink complex cocktails and expensive champagnes. I remember the time where a shower on the festival ground was the epitome of luxury and if a food stall sold falafels, you were shouting out to everyone how wordily festivals had become.

Then of course, beside the implementation of great amenities, you also have the transformation of the festival goer.

Where once people wore their old rags, ransacked boots and didn’t shy away from wrapping bin liners around their bodies, the festival fashion du jour has taken a life of its own. People go to great lengths to make themselves look ‘festival worthy’. A lot of them, spending a lot of money and effort on their outfits. As, if it’s not you, someone else will be taking thousands of pictures, so better arrange great looking memories by dressing appropriately for the event. Celebrities in particular consider Glastonbury to be a muddy catwalk where one can parade their carefully selected outfits on whilst blowing some cool wind into their never-stopping P.R. machine.

Like with the ‘Oscars’, the media happily indulges in the festival phenomena too by releasing worst and best fashion lists. From the Towies to the Credible Celebs, every single piece of garment they wear will be scrutinised and rated.

Most people however, look more or less the same in their originality. There are thousands of cut-off jeans, stringy cardigans, floppy hats, military jackets, flower arrangements in the hair and of course, a festival cannot be attended without a pair of ‘Hunter’ wellies. In fact, looking at all the pictures of this weekend, it’s almost like Glastonbury has become one extended advertisement for these Wellington boot creators.

But yes, no attention-craving celebrity will miss out on the chance to doll themselves up in festival wear with the eye on feeding their pictures straight into their Twitter account, showing their fans and followers how cool they really are – even when in reality, they wear prom dresses to work. Like Katherine Jenkins for instance. I am sure the girl likes her music, but observing the way she portrays herself on Glastonbury this year, (the obligatory cut offs and flowers in the hair) it is clear to me that she studied the festival fashion guide to pick out the right garments to shine. She went for navy blue Hunter boots by the way. It matched the rest of her blue outfit.

When I saw Coleen Rooney pictured online, a little red Chanel bag strapped over her shoulder, I knew that festivals as we once knew them, were a thing of the unsanitary past. I didn’t even consider the helicopter or £6000 Winnebago, that red bag nevertheless made me see clear on the subject. The rebellious, ‘whatever’ mentality that prevailed back in the days, have once and for all been replaced by something a little bit too orchestrated for me. That bag just said it all.

Glastonbury, I believe it’s still about the music, of course, how can it not be? But – observing cost, flaunting of wares and blatant extravaganza, we have to accept that this festival, along side with the type of holidays we take, the class we fly or brand of car we drive, has become yet another symbol of status.

It’s not all bad though, Glastonbury remains the best there is out there when it comes to festivals and line-ups. And, even if the hippie-ethics which were the original foundations for the festival, are no longer in place, to this day Glastonbury  donates most of its profits to charities – which I think is admirable.

For me, it will always be about the music and I don’t care so much for plastic flowers in my hair but one final thought I have is that despite the recession, people are still willing to fork out so much money for music. Even if for some of them, parting with their cash will result in sitting in front of their tent whilst pouting into the camera of their mobile phones – for the whole four days. At least, the world will know they were there and you can’t beat Glastonbury when it comes to location supremo. Cooler than that, you probably won’t get and it will always remain an item to tick off on the bucket list.

But for those who prefer a mud-free environment and a short walk to refreshments, snacks and shower, do like me: press the red button on your tv, stretch your legs on the coffee table and indulge in the best spectacle on earth – from the comfort of your sofa that is.

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