If you’ve never been to Glastonbury, the words Shangri-La probably won’t mean that much to you. However, if you have, you’ll almost certainly be fizzing with excitement at the mere mention of the most special of the festival’s after-hours areas.
Set up in a far-flung corner of Worthy Farm Shangri-La is a lawless, Mad Max-ian wonderland where anything goes – oh and it takes a whole month to build. There are deep political overtones as well, which come via the continuing narrative of the area, which this year is set to be ‘Media Hell – Truth and Lies’.
If you got too twatted remember the story of Shangri-La, here’s a quick primer. The area arrived in 2008, a “dystopian pleasure city”. However, the area besieged by setbacks and corruption and anarchy. The city was destroyed and reimagined as the afterlife, with Hell controlled by a sinister corporation and Heaven a blissful carpeted cocoon, where Thom Yorke could occasionally be found DJing.
Now, in 2016 Shangri-Hell is run by a corrupt media conglomerate with a Big Brother style press – known as Shangri-Hell International Television (SHITV) – attempting to brainwash the residents, while Shangri-Hell is being redeveloped into luxury real estate, called The Intoleranch.
Crazy, but also kind of familiar, right? “Shangri-La holds a mirror up to the masses, challenging people in politics and play,” explains Shangri-La’s creative director, Kaye Dunnings. “This year’s theme explores the media in all its ugliest forms and asks people to seek out the truth, not to believe what they see, hear or read.” The people behind Shangri-La are such decent sorts that they’ll be publishing their own paper this year, with proceeds going towards the refugee community kitchen in Calais and Dunkirk.
When it comes to what’s actually happening, highlights this year include an airing of the late, great DJ Derek’s mini disk collection, appearances from Kate Tempest and Roni Size, the women’s only Sisterhood stage, art from Shepherd Fairey, Gaz Mayall’s Rocket Lounge and Restaurant, the ‘exclusive’ Starf*ckerz VIP bar, Flappy Candy Clan Clash Crush Saga Live! and the Shangri Hell International Television Centre. Still confused? Good – that’s almost exactly why Shangri-La is so brilliant. See you at Starf*ckerz.