A decade of Global Gatherings has seen everything from the red arrows to a parachuting hamster land at Long Marston. Celebrating double figures this July, headline acts Dizzee Rascal and Faithless join the world’s DJ fraternity for another round with the UK’s dance music festival heavyweight. Now twice as long and three times as big, the Birmingham Review caught up with the original GG promoters to see what life was like when it was all nothing but fields…
“When we decided to do Global Gathering a lot of the other festivals didn’t understand their punters,” says Chris Griffin, co-founder of Godskitchen, the Birmingham based superclub that spawned Global Gathering. “It was all about booking the biggest headliner and who’s got the biggest cheque book. We were better at knowing what people wanted back then.” 25,000 people agreed, selling out Global’s 2001 debut amidst an onslaught of bad industry omens.
“When we started everyone said you won’t pull it off, you won’t get the license,” says GK’s other half Tyrone De Savery, “DJs refused to play. They thought we’re not getting behind it, there’s three festivals already.” GG launched the same year a well known London club held a festival at Knebworth, “our first Global went head to head with the Ministry of Sound,” says Chris, “I think they ended up losing about a million quid”.
Originally promoted as a ‘pure DJ event’, Global Gathering was supported by the (frankly) fanatical Godskitchen fanbase, but it takes more than an army of angel tattoos to fill a festival. “In 2001 we distributed 1million promotional booklets,” says Ryan Matthews, Global’s original head of promotions, “and 1.5million the second year. We put a flyer on every car window and a poster on every lamppost in the country. We absolutely hammered it.”
And 10 years young Global’s legacy continues, albeit a more mature mash up than it’s “ravers in a field” original. But will it last? “Global should go from strength to strength,” say’s Ryan,” as long as they don’t pick stupid artists and charge too much money”.
Well that’s alright then, Happy Birthday Global Gathering. Hand me that flyer again..?