REPORT: Global Gathering’s decade dissection

Global Gathering 2009 - courtesy of AMG

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..?

OPINION: Bonkers Boris and the state of the nation

Ed King @edking2210Words by Ed King / First published in Birmingham 13 – May 2008

I have an ongoing argument with my mother about my right to vote, or rather my right not to vote as the case may be. I call it an argument but in reality it’s more like a long drawn out war of attrition. Two sides slowly and relentlessly grinding down each other’s defences with the only possible outcome being an arbitrary slim majority and a prize that’s long since been tainted beyond use anyway. If I’m truthful, it’s a futile and self obsessed debate. One with no productive end and no opportunity for one side to agree with the other. It’s a contest that simply doesn’t want to be won and more than just a little like the politics that causes this family feud in the first place.

I don’t vote. I did once at college due to peer pressure but I swear I didn’t inhale. This particular admission, along with the heresy of thinking Harry Potter books are not actually all that good, seems to upset my peers in a way that they apparently find quite uncomfortable, and has done more to demark my reputation in the eyes of others than its seems Rioja, Sambuca or Staropraman will ever do so.

When I tell politically minded people of my chronic polling allergy the response I get is not just one of disapproval, after all we all have our priorities in life, but I can actually see them physically erasing me from the world of importance. I get the bewildered look of someone who can’t quite understand what they are hearing, followed by the obligatory and well meant, but unfortunately usually condescending, lesson on why it is not only my right to vote but in fact my duty.

Once I have stood silently and piously hearing them out, and have not rushed out to close down a primary school and stand behind a curtain crossing boxes, I can see them start to slowly edge away from me in a mix of pity and disgust and begin to look for someone else that can share the remainder of their drink with. It seems nowadays that non voters in public are worse than smokers, and we don’t even get to seek safety in numbers in beer gardens or in the dull light outside the pub’s front door.

It’s a funny thing but people seem to assume that if you don’t vote you are not politically astute, and your misguided concerns are only of a TV and media circus, based on the shallow world of celebrity and devoid of any substance or real meaning. My own personal viewpoint is that modern politics festers somewhere between George Orwell, Noam Chomsky and Dancing On Ice, and if you are sucked into the whole charade then your misguided concerns are only of a TV and media circus, based on the shallow world of celebrity and devoid of any substance or real meaning.

It could well be argued, and often is between me and my long suffering matriarch, that today’s hustings are simply a puppet show fuelling nothing but the greed, selfishness and global economic hegemony of a select and secret few, all wrapped up in a pretty bow and sequins to distract us from what little choice we really have. An opinion that is not often very well received by the staunch armchair politician.

I am writing this on the day that Boris Johnson became mayor of London and boys and girls in blue up and down the country are no doubt nursing very expensive hangovers. An interesting time indeed and very public display of the ludicrousness and unsubstantiated rhetoric that makes up most of Westminster and beyond. I have no doubt that Mr J is indeed a very smart man (after all he went to Eaton and you have to be clever to get in there right?) but it does make you wonder why a man whose alliterated nickname is Bonkers can so dramatically overturn someone who has for all intends and purposes been a very successful public official.

The voter turns on a dime it seems and the ‘bewildered herd’ that Walter Lippmann so intuitively named have once again bought into the headlines and are stampeding us down another road of political madness. The only solace I have, sitting there in my smug little world of non involvement (and believe me I appreciate my own hypocrisy), is that I never played a part in the poorly scripted matinee performance that is the modern campaign trail.

Or maybe by sitting silent I played the biggest part of all, as my own opposition would argue? But then again that’s just the not-so-clever manipulation of one point to argue another really. Armchair opinions and politics with a small p.