To be fair Lowlife is one of my favourite parties in London. If not my favourite. Not necessarily for the music, although it's always good, but for the vibe. Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton have built the party up from a gathering of friends in their living room in New York in the late 90s to a staple of the London club scene. Strangely though, more often than not when you mention it to an uninitiated punter they'll never have heard of it. The party draws an extremely loyal and enthusiastic following but manages to miss the radars of the rest of the world. This, in my book, is a very good thing.
After years of doing their thing at Corsica Studios the guys seem to have wanted a new challenge and so last summer they took their lovely little soiree and plonked it down in a field in Dorset and all manner of nonsense broke loose (the good kind). I couldn't make it last year but have had to put up with 12 whole months of mates banging on constantly about how good it was so this year I thought I'd better not miss the boat.
It was a perfect hot sunny day as we headed out of London. The wonderful Kate spent the whole journey swearing at the hire car whilst my wife and I did our best to drink all our booze before we got anywhere near the festival. We're supportive friends like that. When we finally got there it was plain to see what everyone had been making such a fuss about the previous year. The site is absolutely beautiful. It's set just off the road in what's almost a natural bowl created by wooded hills each side of an open field. With the help of the trees lining the approach drive when you come onto the site you feel instantly cut off from the outside world.
It's a very small festival. I'm not sure how many people were there, maybe five or six hundred max, which is exactly why it works so well. There's basically one tent where all the action is which closes down at 2pm. Once proceedings are finished here everyone hot foots into another tiny little tent to crack on until the sun comes up. Whilst sitting on a hay bale round the fire as the sun came up chatting nonsense to some random it struck me that the whole thing had the air of the free parties of my misspent Shropshire youth. But with better music. Oh and the kids that were present weren't stealing lighters off people to sell back for 50p.
The only drawback of the weekend was that the sound levels had to be kept very low which was a shame. In the main tent the system was almost loud enough, almost. There were definitely a few times that I was yearning for the music to kick me in the belly. In the after hours tent the level was really too quiet but you wouldn't tell this from the big grins on everyone's faces. I think there's talk of a new site next year and so I'm hoping for a bit more umph in this department.
Other than that one gripe this was one of the most enjoyable weekends I've had for a long old time. This festival is put on with love and passion, the atmosphere is warm and open. From the people who play the music to the people dancing it’s big smiles all round. New friends, old friends. What a weekend.
- Frank Broughton stopping the music in the main tent and calling for the owner of a maroon Volvo to come forward for about 10 minutes (or so it seemed) like a cross between an MC and a bingo caller.
- Maurice Fulton
- Eating a breakfast muffin, chips, a pizza and jerk chicken rice and peas all in the space of about 2 hours
- Glitter wrestling (as a spectator not as a participant)
- Pulling the blow up mattress out of my
oven tent and having a blissful sleep in the shade under a tree
- Having an intensely psychedelic experience in a forest with 3 other grown men
- Saturday night in the main tent with the Lowlife residents in full effect
- Bruce Tantum playing excellent house music in a tiny tent to lots of people with a rickety floor over a 4 foot drop into a bog
- The weather
- Not loud enough
- Sunburned knees
- Having to go home
- Monday morning
Enjoy this article? Want more?
You can support Ransom Note and independent journalism through our Patreon campaign now.
Become a friend of Ransom Note