Global Gathering 2006 - Long Marston Airfield, Saturday

When you've only managed to snatch an hour's worth of sleep, being greeted by gorgeous sunshine and a clear blue sky definitely softens the blow. In fact, one's grumpiness soon dissolves and is replaced by impatience that the arena doesn't open until two in the afternoon. While we waited around for the rave to start all over again, talk turned to the previous night and generally how amazing Daft Punk were. Would anyone on the Saturday steal their crown? Well, that was the question...

Finally, it was time to head once more into the breach. Skimming through the programme, I admit to having no idea who the artists were that were playing at that point in the day. Therefore, we settled on exploring as many stages as possible in the hope of finding something that might catch our attention and hold us in place. In the Bedrock tent, Neil Quigley was proof that festivals are not solely about catching the acts you know and love. His set, consisting mainly of house music, was a great start to the day and was successful in getting many a crowd member dancing like it was nigh on closing time. However, I joined the many people in the tent who chose instead to sprawl on the grass and tap their feet along to Quigley's output, happy to let his beats wash over them and their hangovers.

Needless to say though, dance festivals are made for dancing and our next stop, the Polysexual tent, was where my grubby trainers truly became dancing shoes. Paul Maddox was the man spinning the magic, and what magic it was - this was my first experience all weekend (and, generally, ever) of a live DJ's happy hardcore set and I was truly impressed. There was something about being part of a crowd, people of all variations surrounding you with the common thread of wanting to have a good time, that was really elevating. The solid half hour spent in this tent easily proves to be one of my most lasting memories of the festival.

After hearing a rumour that Radio 1's Sara Cox was milling about in the VIP area, it was time for a change of scenery. Global Gathering makes VIP tickets available to the public for an extra fifty quid on top of the standard ticket fare, and so it was off to the Hed Kandi VIP area for some schmoozing. Or not. Unfortunately, said rumour seemed to be a bit of a fabrication for the only people hanging out here seemed to be those who were afraid of portaloos and were queuing to use the admittedly posher facilities. There were also a couple of people dancing to a set from DJ Andrew Daniels but, despite his efforts, the overall atmosphere in this section was unavoidably flat. The only real advantages were getting served pretty quickly at the bar and the oh-so-comfy hammocks dotted around the beer garden area. Consequently, I would not advise those wishing to visit the festival next year to fork out the extra money for a VIP pass unless more benefits are made available.

After a quick bite to eat and a return trip to the tent, it was time to hit the BBC Radio 1 Beach Stage with the non-VIPs where the party was well and truly at. The atmosphere here was buzzing and definitely played a part in keeping myself and my company rooted there for the main stretch of that evening. Dancing to a fantastic set from Erick Morillo on the stretch of sand that put the 'Beach' into 'Beach Stage' was one of those moments where you realise summer is in your presence. Morillo's ability to work the crowd was unsurpassed all night, and a remix of Coldplay's God Put A Smile Upon Your Face drew his appearance to a close much too soon.

Next up were London duo Audio Bullys. Having caught part of their set at V in 2004, I was expecting a lot from these two and they didn't disappoint. Opening with their huge club mix of Nancy Sinatra's Shot You Down, their mishmash of bass-heavy house and dub continued for a substantial hour-long set. The presence of Bully Simon Franks' live MC duties added a performance aspect missing from some of the weekend's ouput, and only made me enjoy their showing even more.

And so we come to Saturday's big name, an appearance that I'd been eagerly anticipating all weekend. Two planes diving through the air signalled he was about to hit the stage, and rapturous applause greeted him when he did. Fatboy Slim, aka Mr Norman Cook, was a tiny silhouette against the huge screens behind him but he made his presence felt. Things started off well with his own hits, such as Right Here, Right Now and The Rockafeller Skank, sitting alongside elements from songs as diverse as Deee-Lite's Groove Is In the Heart and Underworld's Born Slippy. However, something of a below-par middle section, consisting of some repetitive and indistinguishable big beats, served only to extinguish the energy and enthusiasm he'd inspired in me when he first came on. During this dip, however, I was still kept entertained by the special glasses designed for Fatboy's show. Costing only a pound, which is short change considering a bottle of coke was about three quid, these allowed the wearer to see smiley faces wherever there was a source of light and proved to be the best purchase of the weekend. I might even take them out when I go clubbing - heck, I might just wear them full-time! The music soon eclipsed the visual splendour of smiley faces though, with Cook pulling his finger out and delivering a final half hour to rival anything seen and heard all weekend. Especially riveting was an indie mashup, where Arctic Monkeys' When the Sun Goes Down and that song by The Automatic were effectively employed over some monster-ific beats. It was tricks like this up his sleeve that redeemed Fatboy's slot and made his set one of the must-see's, if one of the most inconsistent, of the event.

As if by some strange fateful coincidence, the festival gods saw fit to unleash a torrent of rain upon us all as soon as Fatboy's appearance came to an end. Luckily, I managed to get a decent spot in the Godskitchen tent for the remainder of Paul Oakenfold's set. Glowsticks in the air and lasers putting on something of a lightshow, the only thing missing was Brittany Murphy re-creating the video to Faster Kill Pussycat onstage. I suppose you can't have everything. No matter, for Oakenfold's DJ stylings did much to impress and proved a fabulous successor to Fatboy.

Unfortunately, although we had a great spot in Godskitchen, we decided we'd head on over to Polysexual to catch sets by Tidy Boys and Lisa Lashes. However, due to the rain, by the time we reached that tent, it was rammed to the rafters and there was no chance of getting in. Caught in the preposterous rain and realising all the other tents were full, the decision was made to call it a night for the time being and so, soaked through, we made our way to the campsite to dry off and wait the rain out. Needless to say, being an exhausted dance festival virgin, once I'd got comfy and into some warm clothes, I was soon catching some much needed z's.

Although I may have missed out on some impressive acts - the music catered to ravers who could withstand the rain until six on the Sunday morning - I feel like I've come away from Global Gathering with a bigger and better appreciation of dance music than ever before. The acts I did catch ranged from merely good to downright amazing - nothing I saw was really mediocre, and this is not the case with many a rock festival I have attended. Therefore, I advise everyone to think about giving it a go next year and I myself will no doubt consider going. The lineup, the atmosphere, the people - everything seemed to fall into place to create a truly great festival experience.

Last updated: 19/04/2018 04:49:39

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