Friday, July 24, 2009

Latitude: More than a music festival

Entering the festival site

OK! Where did this week go? Finally, here it's the promised post about Latitude! Because I know you've all been impatiently waiting for it!

Latitude's organizers market the event as "More than a music festival", and that's exactly what it is. Of course, music is a big part of it an it is part of what makes the festivals' atmosphere so attractive. They have great acts and many people come exclusively to see them. They have, after all, five music arenas, but there is so much more to see and do outside these areas: theatre, cabaret, literary talks, comedy, film, radio, a knitting surgery...

Knitting surgery

This is my favourite thing about Latitude. The amount of interesting shows, and the variety of it. You can watch a theatre play, then move to the Comedy tent to see an act, go and watch a short film in the Film and Music Arena before heading to the Literary Saloon for a debate on the future of the book and finally going to the main music stage to see Pet Shop Boys. There is so much happening that acts have to really try hard to captivate their audience. With so many other interesting things going at the same time, they can't afford to lose audience interest. And they very rarely disappoint.

Overview of the fields

The downside is that it'd be impossible to see everything you've planned to see. Inevitably your favourite things happen at the same time, or something is running late and ruins your schedule, or you forget about them in between all the other acts. The upside? If you let go of your schedule, you are very likely to find an unexpected gem, a new singer or writer you hadn't heard about!

It's funny how some people do their research before they go, grab a timetable as soon as they get there and then follow a plan all weekend, and others just drift from place to place looking for something they may like. Some simply camp in their favourite tent and spend a whole morning, a day, or even a weekend there. I'd love to say I'm one of the spontaneous ones, but I did lots of planning and research before I went, so I knew what I wanted to see. I did however allow for some free time and ended up discovering great surprises... the inspiring and slightly scary debate on climate change that took place in the Music and Film Arena, the absolutely brilliant and funny Jessica Delfino in the Comedy tent and the very young and very talented Ruby and her Whorses on the Poetry Arena.

Outside the poetry tent
Another thing I love about Latitude is that many of the people that perform over the weekend do it more than once and in different arenas. These artists are very difficult to classify, some appear in the Comedy tent first and the Poetry one later, or read their poetry and then sing in one of the music arenas. I love how there is music everywhere, even in the literary tent some of the acts manage to include music during their set. For me, great artists are those that express themselves in lots of different ways, that use many subjects and different tools, that simply follow their inspiration and let it guide them to the right media. On a personal level, this makes me realize that it doesn't matter that I don't know "what to do with my life", that maybe I'm meant to have more than one calling. That it's OK to want to write, take photos, make collages, that I can actually express myself through words and images whenever necessary. That I don't have to choose.

Outside the Literary tent

Going from tent to tent is so inspiring, there are so many ideas floating in the air, so many interesting people either performing or attending (sometimes both!), so many new things to learn, books to read, websites to check out, bands to listen to... It's impossible not to come back inspired to write that book, start that research project, or experiment with your blog... And I'm going to do all of those in the coming months! So wait and see!

But before, I want to tell you about some of my favourites from the weekend.

Comedy tent:
Mark Thomas: Ah, he should probably be the oficial ARWP comedian.
Shappi Khorsandi: Iranian-born, her family moved to England escaping the regime. She makes fun of politics, death threats, and race and can express better than anyone what it's like to belong in two different places, to be a foreigner at home... always with a laugh.

The theatre was seriously good. This tent was the first and the last that we visited at the weekend. We started with Is everyone OK? a play by the group Nabokov about being 30 and wondering "How did I get here?" (so appropriate!!) and finished watching an incredibly funny account of sudden loss of dignities. Check the Bush Theatre website for more. And if you have experienced a sudden loss of dignity, let them know! They may include your story in their next show!

Is everyone OK? by Nabokov
Literary Arena and Literary Salon
They had great writers at the Literary Arena, but what I really enjoyed was the Literary Salon, where there were debates on the future of the book, workshops on how to play outdoors or how to talk to strangers with The School of Life and talks about writing for the BBC. Well, you all know how much I like taking courses and workshops so as you can imagine I spent a great deal of time here. Also they had sofas!

A very tired me at the Literary Salon on the Sunday

In here, I was reminded that we should sit sill from time to time, let our mind wander, because than when the best ideas happen, and that we shouldn't let the fact that we are amateurs stop us from doing something. So what if my photos aren't perfect? I enjoy taking them and that's enough for now.

Film and Music Arena:
My favourite thing was Richard DeDomenici talking about plagiarism. Has everything been done? he asked, and although his presentation, tracking down the roots of many famous works in music and art seemed to say that yes, everything has indeed been done before, he ended up reminding us that there are new ideas around and it's up to us to find them! We also saw a fascinating debate on climate change. We were urged to make drastic changes to our lifestyles before it's too late, to commit ourselves with real action and to pressure our Governments to make a commitment to change in the Copenhagen Climate Conference in December. See where your country stands here.

All my favourite ladies were there (OK, Zooey Deschanel wasn't) I was already looking forward to both Bat for Lashes and Regina Spektor. It was the second time I saw Bat for Lashes live and she has grown and improved so much in two years. Regina was incredibly sweet, and she has such a strong and light sound at the same time, it was incredble watch her play the piano. The surprise of the Festival was Grace Jones who I didn't really know as any more than a famous name. She is an amazing diva and gave her everything to the public.

Grace Jones making a grand entrance

Also, The Doves were amazing, I'm not really a fan but there were great live and really engaged the public. Thom Yorke, of Radiohead, did an exclusive solo gig on Sunday morning, a mellow set that was perfect for a quiet Sunday morning. I also discovered and loved Sky Larkin. And The Pretenders! OMG, I heard I'll stand by you live!!!

Ufff, sorry for the long post. If you got here, thanks for reading!! I can't stop talking about it! And I can't wait for next year's Latitude!


  1. Yuhu!soy el primer comentario del post más largo e interesante de la historia jajajaja
    Me encantan ese tipo de cosas,la verdad es que ya me imaginaba algo tan impresionante como eso:)Poesía,teatro,cine,música,charlas sobre el medio ambiente (tengo una vena ecologista que de vez en cuando me sale),además,quiero decir que el nivel musical estaba bastante alto,porque para escuchar a Radiohead y The Pretenders hay que tener un caché jajaja

    Yo estoy aquí muriéndome de ganas por ir al FIB,y eso que voy a Benicàssim desde hace 16 años (es decir,desde el día en que nací xD)
    Ayy qué suerte ser mayor de edad y que te dejen hacer esas cosas,quién pudiera xD

    Respecto a lo de que te gustan tantas cosas,a mi me pasa lo mismoy tengo un problema de verdad porque no sé por qué decidirme para mi futuro música,he hecho teatro,pintura,me encantaría saber escribir y tener la imaginación suficiente para hacer novelas alucinantes,me encanta el diseño de moda...estoy perdida por el camino de las artes y todo el mundo quiere que me meta a abogada o médica xD

    De verdad que tu blog me da mucha esperanza para mi vida en general :)

    p.d.:si prefieres que escriba los comentarios en inglés házmelo saber por favor :)

  2. Muchas gracias!!!! Tus comentarios siempre me hacen sonreir! Y no me importa nada que los dejes en español, por supuesto¡

  3. Surgery? I was waiting to hear what this meant. I was guessing children's stuffed animals were being sewn up.

    Our town is also having a big festival next weekend. It's Irish in theme with several bands from Ireland. Very fun.

  4. Wow, sounds like a great week!

  5. can i go next year?... really i WANT to go next year!... i think i´d hang out in the theater tent all weekend:) ...oh... and your boots darling... smashing! besos!

  6. Oh my goodness!!! How did I not know about this festival! And how did you find out about it... I've just had a panic attack realising that there are so many really great events going on and I have no idea... depressing :-(

    I'm coming along next year too. Although I'll probably end up camping on one of the literary salons sofas for the whole weekend...mmmm, delicious!

  7. hey b
    that was a really great post, definitively.
    i'm impress about how many diversity of fun you had in there!!
    i've been in festivals before but nothing like this.
    theather, music, literature and knit... that's very cool.
    there's no way anyone do not have fun in there.
    it worth wait for this post!!

    an amazing weekend for you!

    see ya


  8. Really good post B.
    I imagine it was hard to mention everything - worthy of a part two I think.
    Lovely picture of you - perfect in fact !

  9. This looks like a blast!! I love the poetry sign! And your boots!! So fab!!

  10. B: Thank you so much for sharing! Your enthusiasm drips through the lines ~ and yes, now gives me just one more reason to someday get to your corner of the world.

    Wow! What a fantastic mix of art and inspiration. I was once told that an artist should explore many different media in order to be better at the one they were born to do. I believe you saw that first hand, and, yes, please keep doing all that you do so that I can vicariously enjoy your hobbies and projects!

    wv: dolenti: the practice of learning many things, slowly but surely. Usage: It took 30 years for B to learn it, but she was enlightened (and thrilled to learn) that the next 30 years would be moments of dolenti, someday bringing fulfillment and wisdom.

  11. I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


  12. @ Hit40 Knitting surgery were just knitting classes with a fancy name! Sorry to disappoint! :)

    @ Ali It was a great weekend!

    @ Jane You should definitely come! I know, I LOVE my wellies!

    @ Polly Don't worry, here I am to tell you about all the cool things you didn't know about! :) I'll camp with you in the Literary salon next year!

    @ Cris Glad you liked it! Festivals are huge here and they are great fun!

    @ Jan Thanks! Maybe I will do a part 2, you're right, I couldn't tell you about everything!

    @ Christina It was! The poetry entrance was really cool!

    @ Cyndy, thanks so much for your sweet comment, insightful as always! At the moment I'm enjoying all my hobbies, but soon, I'll become restless again... it's just life! Love the dolenti definition!

    @ lagot Thanks for listening and commenting

  13. I like your thoughts on how this whole event spoke to you. About your different callings, you probably should take inspiration from the collages you like to make: different bits that are combined together and make one new coherent piece ... live your life as a collage, a new motto:)!
    PS are wellies a new fad in the UK? I love yours!

  14. wow that looks like a great event! I would have loved to lounge around in the literary salon too! (Your boots are so cute!)

  15. Tantas cosas, tanto que elegir, tanto en lo que "perder" el tiempo.

    Me encantaría.

  16. I've never been a fan of festivals, (as I don't like crowds), but you made this sound so INTERESTING and INSPIRING.

  17. a literary tent? regina spektor? swoooooooon!

  18. hey b

    i also think i need a non-brazilian!! yes, brazilian women when live out of brazil they use to married a non-brazilian guy, that's why, because they are more romantic and considerate to women, you know, like on movies!!


  19. it sounds fantastic! what an amazing event! and such a great shot of you in the literary salon :-)

  20. I read your whole post and got glued to it for like eternity, taking in the words and the actions one by one. Too good to be true. "Hitting-myself-on-the-head with-the-back-of-my-hand" for not reading your post earlier. somehow I missed it. And just like that out of the blue I remembered 'B and her blog' in that order..

    Late but at least not never..

    And I lovvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvved your post. and Latitude. I so wish I could tag along with you next year. What an amazing concept..and what wonderful people. But half the magic is in your words and your style. If it is even half as fun as you make it sound, it would be very memorable.

    Thank you for sharing this with us all deprived souls.

  21. great summary of lattitude and it made me even more jealous reading your take on it!

    i would research and research and then end up drifting around!


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