Honestly, the last time I went to a festival in London I felt like I was 20 and had just returned from a trip.
My daughters and I went to the South West Four Festival (also known as SW4) at Clapham Common, where we danced to classic 90s garage tunes and boogied to house music.
The night was blurry of course, but we always have fun with my friends and we made some pretty hilarious memories.
I’m 23 now, although I feel like I might be 30. I’m just one of many millennials who lost a year in their twenties to the pandemic.
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So when I saw two of my favorite soul R&B artists, Masego and Mereba were flying overseas to headline the South Facing Festival at the Crystal Palace Bowl, I bought a ticket right away. .
It was last May, when the government’s plans to free us from lockdown were still pending and the scandalous secrets of former government secretaries and advisers were exposed to the public.
My hopes of attending South Facing were drastically reduced as Hideout in Croatia, which is a dance festival I was going to attend in September, was drastically canceled.
The ever-changing and chaotic traffic light system created by the government has cast doubt on my summer plans. Even though I knew I would be staying in London for the foreseeable future, I couldn’t help but feel that this summer was about to be a little disappointing.
Then came the deeply devastating announcement of the Notting Hill Carnival that it was canceled for this year. I have been going there for a few years and for me it really is one of the best events there is in London.
Alas, the weeks leading up to South Facing turned into days and soon enough I was getting my festival outfit ready and where I would meet up with my best friend for the aperitif!
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However, as I was browsing to download my ticket, I learned that Masego and Mereba had canceled due to the pandemic. They live in America, so it was pretty explicit why they couldn’t do it.
Still, I didn’t let it cool my mood. I know I will see them in the near future and it will be all the more worth it. Good things happen to those who wait, don’t they?
Friday August 6th was expected to have heavy rain for most of the day, but that didn’t stop my friend and I. We were so happy to be together after almost a year of exchanging voice notes on Snapchat.
Upon our arrival, however, we were immediately panicked when the festival manager asked, “Do you have proof of vaccine status or a negative Covid test?” We cannot let you in any other way ”.
Confused as to why we weren’t properly briefed on this beforehand, we luckily kept our NHS text messages confirming our first doses of the vaccine.
I’m not going to lie, I was a little annoyed that it wasn’t expressed clearly enough beforehand, although I have to admit it could have been my fault if I hadn’t read the fine print.
I understand that the government’s blind-lead-the-blind strategy has confused us all.
Once inside, we walked over to the bar (of course) and were amazed to receive not one, but four free ciders!
We were immediately put in a good mood and the sun was shining. There were good vibes all around and it was so amazing to be surrounded by happy people, who were all there for the same reasons we were – to have a good time.
The Crystal Palace Bowl floating stage had been recently renovated and it looked spectacular. Having only one stage for the performers was so intimate and made my first London festival in three years even more special.
We walked down to the stage where Pip Millett was about to perform. Soon her sweet soulful voice lit up the crowd and the concert feeling I had longed for for so long was finally back.
I was looking forward to the next act, rapper and singer IAMDDB. I had already seen her twice, but not since the pandemic of course.
But as we learned last year, you can’t be too excited about future plans in case they get canceled. A crew member around IAMDDB had tested positive and his set was unfortunately canceled.
It was now three acts I was most looking forward to, I was still in such a good mood and the penultimate replacement headliner was one of my favorite grime artists, Ghetts.
Despite the major setbacks, I was so happy to be back at a London festival with one of my best friends. Like all aspects of life right now, I’ve learned that last-minute artist cancellation is something we’ll all have to get used to.
Have you been to a festival this summer? How was it for you? Let us know in the comments section here.