Whether you know it by the official, prosaic epithet “the south-east corner” or by widespread Glastonbury nickname “the naughty corner”, the cluster of four late-night party areas is unquestionably the place to be after the headliners finish. Unfortunately, the secret is well and truly out.
Last night, as soon as the likes of Muse, Disclosure and Kano had finished their sets around the site, thousands of fans all set off in the same direction. The one-way system that kicks in from 10:30pm, first instigated in 2011, has done much to alleviate the trauma-inducing crowd crushes of yore, although better crowd management of course means some disappointed punters arrived from their long treks across muddy fields to find huge scrolling signs informing them that both Shangri-La and Block9 were full to capacity, and to “please come back later”.
Needless to say, your correspondent wasn’t going to be put off that easily. Having skilfully navigated the queues through the Cabaret and Glasto Latino fields, our first taste of the madness was in The Common, entered through a small gate guarded by a couple of massive stone heads presumably on loan from Easter Island. The Common seems to get talked about much less on site than the ‘big names’ of Shangri-La and Block 9, which seems a little unfair given that it has a bloody waterfall in it. Whether you’re a first timer at Glastonbury or a grizzled veteran, you can’t help but be transported when you round the corner and see tons of water cascading over an ersatz cliff face. It’s a clear sign that you’re now in another world where ordinary rules no longer apply. The Common is also home to The Back of Beyond, a happening voodoo bar full of dancing skeletons, tequila shots and, at least when we ventured in, slightly incongruous ska punk. Still, it’s the perfect place to down tequila in preparation for the long night ahead. The Temple is The Common’s main rave area, but put off by the long queues we decided to venture further afield, to the next field.
Off Your Mash Rating: Dr John smoking from a skull bong
Shangri-La is the best known of Glastonbury’s late night areas, and the most intellectually involved. The area’s long running narrative has taken it through Shangri-La, Shangri-Hell, Shangri-purgatory, basically everything but Shangri-Brexit. This year, the theme is ‘media hell’, presided over by the ever-watchful eye of Shangri-Hell International Television (SHITv). It’s an ideologically rich, witty and savage satire which is frankly largely lost on the crowds of stumbling drunks who just want to see Shy FX play the area’s main stage. Filled with Shepard Fairey artwork and visuals referencing John Carpenter’s They Live, it’s a convincing dystopia – but then, so is the rest of the country.
Off Your Mash Rating: Bill Hicks on magic mushrooms driving a tank into Westminster
Glastonbury’s thriving LGBTQ area, modelled after New York’s meatpacking district, has been leant a tragic poignancy this year by the recent massacre in Orlando. To pay tribute, Roger Sanchez was helicoptered to the site yesterday for a very special set in front of a capacity Block 9 crowd. The main club, NYC Downlow, has a £2 entrance fee with all proceeds being split between HIV charities, although for that price you also get a glue-on moustache, which frankly you’d look naked without on the dancefloor.
Off Your Mash Rating: Lady Gaga slut-dropping at that Freddie Mercury party where dwarves carried trays of cocaine on their heads
Unfairly maligned by some Glastonbury goers as simply ‘the end of the line’ before you get booted out of the naughty corner, The Unfairground is in fact home to some of the areas best kept secrets. There’s radical artwork, including a tribute to the Mutoid Waste Company’s legendary Car Henge, and a whole host of subversive fairground games like Crackheads and The Gobbler. A personal favourite is Jagz’ Acid Lounge. Run by Primal Scream producer and collaborator Jagz Kooner, your correspondent’s night ended dancing to Prince, Bowie and Iggy Pop while robots built from parts of old cars pole-danced and gyrated in front of me. Somehow fitting now that people are less humans, more machine vessels for ferrying cider from bar to longdrop. I, for one, welcome our sexy robot overlords.
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Off Your Mash Rating: C-3PO dropping digital pills in the sleaziest strip-joint in Mos Eisley