You can find anything you want at Glastonbury. That sounds like a banal thing to say, but in the case of the Swapper Market, it’s literally true.
Welcome to Shangri-La, the hedonistic clubbing district of Worthy Farm, a steam-punk dreamland studded with ecological slogans (one poster depicts a depressing landfill site overlaid with the words: ‘WTF Fam?”) and endlessly unexpected spins on the theme. For instance, there’s a room where you can rock up and address an audience with pro-global conservation quotes written on cards, which one woman and her mate use as an opportunity to show off their beatboxing skills (their cover of Daft Punk’s ‘Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger’ is particularly great).
Nearby there’s a tiny booth where a small crowd watches on as a bleach blonde bloke in a loud Hawaiian shirt bellows into a mic: “What have you got that you want to swap?” Nothing, I tell him – I only have good things on me. “We only have good things, too!”, he retorts. One guy in the crowd hands over a water bottle and is rewarded with a tankard and a mini bottle of red wine.
The Swapper Market has offered such treats at Glastonbury since Shangri-La launched a decade ago. Its mastermind Chris Nelson tells NME: “Absolutely everything here is eco-friendly or has been reclaimed from landfill. For example, we’ve customised some astro-turf into lovely bags.”
He holds up a fetching handbag adorned with spiky green fake grass. “We go into landfill. We’ve scoured dumps and charity shops for the stuff that charity shops don’t put out, that was destined for landfill, and then we customised it. We’ve taken trash and turned it into something that people actually want. There is no money exchanging hands. We are giving people the things that they want to take home and treasure for the stuff that they’ve got, and then we swap it on.”
It goes without saying that Shangri-La is the only place in the world where you’ll find the Swapper Market. What’s the strangest thing Chris has seen swapped since he’s been in business?
“We got someone to swap their entire outfit – everything they were wearing – for a pair of DM boots,” he says. “They were brand new DM boots. Someone had handed them in; they’d never been used. So someone wandered off into the festival completely naked – except for a pair of DM boots.”
It’s absolutely scorching at Glastonbury this year, so that’s one way to cool down. And an astro-turf handbag looks good all year round.