There seemed no escaping the near apocalyptic events of last week in the UK. Between referendum disasters, political meltdowns, and the looming threat of financial collapse (again) it seemed there was little cause for celebration. Fortunately, while the gays painted central London in a festival of colour for Pride, across the country Glastonbury showed us once again that good things can happen when people pull together in the name of creativity, music and love. Despite a soggy start Glastonbury was back to shine a light on Grim Britain.
Standout performances came from the likes of Adele and Bastille, but it was Years & Years that stole our hearts when Olly Alexander gave a stirring speech
to mark this weekend's Pride in London. “I’m here, I’m queer and yes sometimes I am afraid, but I am never ashamed because I’m proud of who I am,” he told a emotionally charged crowd.
By night, the far-flung corner of Glasto’s Block 9 was where the bad boys flocked. Remixed for 2016 with a fresh new look, NYC Downlow’s queer quarter had reimagined itself as a pop-up meatpacking district and brought a truckload of flesh with it. The massive structure loomed over Block 9 with the resident drags dangling out the windows as the butch boys entertained the queues outside with a veritable buffet of pecs and bubble butts.
Inside, the club had enjoyed a nip/tuck, too. The addition of the new Meat Rack room delivered a hedonistic edgy serving of tunes to counter the disco in the main room. Block 9 mastermind Gideon has even added dark room for light relief. (We’re informed a frisky carry-on between eight guys left security blushing when the lights came on in the early hours of Friday morning.)
Jonny Woo orchestrated proceedings with his usual panache, as Jaqui Potato delivered her trademark glorious reckless abandon, all accompanied by a swarm of queers in ratchet wigs, jockstraps and lipsticks. Mud, glitter and wonky heels combined to create a very special kinda pizzazz that can’t be found anywhere else in the universe. Performance artistes and gogo boys stumbled in and out of the dressing room/trailer out the back of the Downlow structure every time there was a yell of “Five minutes!” ‘til show time, pulling feet out of mud and striding onto a stage that was relentlessly entertaining.
After last year’s unexpected appearance by Florence Welch there was only one person that could deliver a super-charged bolt of energy to electrify an already excited crowd and that was Róisín Murphy who made a surprise PA on Friday night. I died as she performed classic hit ‘Forever More’, followed up by ‘Evil Eyes’, and ending with a massive sing-along to ‘Sing It Back’. Our jaws dropped as another legend blessed the Downlow with their immeasurable magic.
The emotion remained piqued when housemaster Roger Sanchez arrived on the decks, stopped the music and dedicated his set to the victims of the Orlando shooting, defiant in how hate will never conquer love. It set the tone for a monumental weekend of celebrations that would feature the likes of Black Madonna, Honey Dijon, Andy Butler, Luke Howard and James Hillard on the decks, and marked Pride in a uniquely Glastonbury fashion as only the NYC Downlow knows how to deliver.
Check out more highlight's from this year's NYC Downlow at Glastonbury below:
All images by Tom Hunter and Egle Trezzi