Our youth correspondent Sir Keir Starmer gives his rundown of the 2021 festival season.
Not many people know this, but when I was a student at the University of Leeds, I worked in promotion for the sickest club nights in town. Everything I know about canvassing I learned dishing out wristbands and drinks vouchers on the Otley Road. In the Law Society, they used to call me ‘Mr Speakers’. On nights out with the Labour gang it was ‘Keir Snorter’. My beloved nasal delivery style is the accidental consequence of one nosebeer too many at a foam party in Horsforth back in 1983. Although these days I’m more of a BNOB (‘Big Name on the Benches’, apparently), let me make one thing absolutely clear. There’s still nothing I love more than reaching for the lasers.
Now that I’m the Leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition, I’ve had to dial it down, of course. In the summer recess, however, you’ll find me on a beach in Croatia, a hilltop fortress in Serbia, or a mucky tent in Glastonbury, off my effing barnet vibing strictly to extremely deep tech, future house realness and IDM (intelligent dance music™). There’s a reason the lads down at the Crown Prosecution Service call me the ‘Resident Advisor’.
Purists say the new DJs aren’t up to scratch. But I think 2010–20 was the best decade in the history of dance music. I got into the new generation through the ‘Feel My Bicep’ blog, which I started reading to take my mind off the credit crunch.
Those Bicep boys are incredibly safe chaps and I share their insatiable thirst for dutty, obscure bangers. If I had to pick one track? Au Sève by Julio Bashmore, obviously! It would be my first desert island disc. (Lauren Laverne, if you’re reading this, please return my calls… what happened at Lovebox was a complete misunderstanding.)
Everyone asks: ‘Keir, how can you still party so hard when you’re nearly sixty? What’s your secret?’ I tell them: some are born ravers, some achieve raveness, and some have raving thrust upon them. So, exclusively for The Fence, I’m looking ahead to this year’s waviest festivals and sharing my tips for keeping the vibes positive through to the autumn sitting. Filthy!
Diehards like me call it ‘Techmental’ due to the quality of the tunes and the never-say-comedown attitude of the crowd. Whoever said ‘rhythm is a dancer’ hasn’t seen Andy ‘Mandy’ McDonald off his tits doing the Crazy Salmon at 10pm – mental! Word on the street is that a special guest appearance by Swedish House Mafia is going to make Dekky ’21 unforgettable! The best thing about a fezzy in the Dam? You can spark bare cones of sweet Mary J when it gets too much – with no static from the feds. Praise Jah!
Heaven ain’t a half-pipe, it’s Croatia in July! I’ve had the best nights of my life – and the best nights I can’t remember – with the Labour louts at Hideout. Soft left B2B hard house: what’s not to love? I’ll never forget 2013, when Miliband – or ‘Milligram’ as we call him, the absolute lightweight – lost his marbles at a particularly naughty Chase and Status drop. Edlar had to be carted off to the first aid tent… epic! 2021 boasts another stellar line-up but I’m praying for a secret set by Disclosure to make this year stark raving mental!
Me and the Westminster squad blow off steam with our annual big bash in little Belgium. ‘Tomorrowland’ has been the Party’s internal shorthand for a hypothetical Labour government ever since 2016, when Jonny Ashworth threw a gargantuan whitey and shat himself during Tiësto – legendary! The line-up is TBC but T-Land 2021 is going to be nothing short of mind-bending – see you centre-front-left.
Dimensions is a tradition with the lads from the CPS. Once a year we get together and lose ourselves in beach, bass and barrister banter all the way – with a little bit of illegal aid to keep the sesh going, obviously! At a boat party in 2014, I got a standing ovation for an epic butt-chugg during Calvin Harris and then got Max Hill to drink from it – what a sap!
Exit is all love: no pretensions, no hipsters, just 100% vibes, an unreal line-up of Class-A DJs – and plenty of nooks and crannies for the odd cheeky actus reus, if you catch my sniff? Laughing my ruddy glutes off! I go every year with the old boys from Reigate Grammar. Needless to say, Norman Cook is an absolute lunatic. But Cooper and Sullivan are no slackers, either. In 2014 the two ‘Prangy Andys’ thought Skrillex was using the bass frequencies to warn them a communist bouncer was after their stash – what a pair of sesh gremz!
King Keir’s Festival Tips
When you’ve been raving as long as me, you learn a thing or two about turning a good night into a legendary one. The most important thing to remember is: keep the festie vibes positive – strictly no Tory behaviour!
Pack a Mirror
You’ve got to be looking on-fleek and you do not want to be using those tiny mirrors in the portaloos – butters!
Bring a Battery Pack
My phone died at Hideout 2015 and I lost the Labour lot for the whole weekend. I ended up having to carry on with Davo Grameron’s squad… what a bunch of fucking boy scouts, honestly! Osborne passed out at 9pm on Friday and no-mates Gove talked shop all weekend. Twats!
Visit the Pharmacist
I mean the other pharmacist! Painkillers are essential, especially if you’ve been listening to Ian Murray chat shit all night. But above all, lads, you absolutely must get your hands on some viags in case you get lucky. In chambers we used to call it ‘lasting power of attorney’. Remember: pilly willy ain’t right or honourable!
As told to Josh Mcloughlin