Over the last couple of weeks, it feels like winter is well and truly on it’s way. With Bonfire Night all done and dusted, a visit from the tail end of Hurricane Abigail, and the unwelcome downpours of Storm Barney were just the thing to put an end to any tiny hints of that pleasant, golden autumn that we were holding on to.
Leaving work in the dark, being blown to smithereens by gale force winds, receiving a quick-sharp drenching by a torrential downpour – all whilst navigating a flash flood to get to the bus, does not leave most of us like spending time outdoors at all.
Some of us crave the outdoors. A conversation with friends at the weekend evoked some wonderful, warm memories of the summer – the long nights, camping adventures, eating alfresco and of course our favorite – music festivals.
One that seriously impressed us this year was Moovin’ Festival.
August Bank Holiday may seem like an eternity ago when you battle with your umbrella whilst also trying to blow your nose in the rain, but once in the cosy surroundings of your own home, in front of your laptop, looking at those photos you took – you are instantly transported back into that heavenly bubble that was Moovin’ Festival 2015
Moovin’ – a 2,000 capacity music and arts festival pioneered by Hacienda and Dry 201 legend Herbie Saccani and the team, took place at the wonderfully scenic and eco-friendly Whitebotham Farm, which sits adjacent to Etherow Country Park near Stockport.
In it’s 2nd year, Moovin’ proved that there is still such a thing as a home-grown, organic, underground and unique festival – without commercial influence. The festival focussed on not only being great value for money, but also providing festival goers with an experience that echoes the values of the original music festivals, the great, famous and amazing ones. We all know the saying “good things come in small packages” – well they really do. All in one little field and a cowshed.
Welcome to Moovin’
Walking down from the car park, situated in the sleepy village of Compstall, along the scenic paths of Etherow Country Park was in itself a breath-taking experience.
The skies had cleared, the sun was out and so was the wildlife. A beautiful mill pond formed from the River Etherow runs alongside the path that takes you directly on foot to the festival entrance.
Walking through a magical canopy of ancient trees, greeted along the way by an array of ducks and waterfowl, you really start to feel an overwhelming sense of relaxation.
Wild flowers decorated the hedgerows, Canada Geese flew in formation overhead whilst the festival goers stopped to take in the scenery and enjoy the view.
Once at the farm gates, you are welcomed by yet another magical display – the sound and sight of wild white water flowing powerfully from the river into the millpond.
We’d not even entered the festival site yet, and Moovin’ had already put on an amazing show courtesy of Mother Nature.
The festival staff at the gates were friendly and welcoming, and after queuing very briefly we were inside the festival site and eager to explore.
The approach to the campsite was green and pleasant, with festival goers setting up camp around the first of the festival tents – The Balearic Sound System tent (curated by Aficionados Moonboots and Jason Boardman) which provided live music and a fully stocked bar for those who chose to make this lovely spot their home for the weekend. The atmosphere was amazing – a chilled out, glowing ambiance surrounded the field with everyone bearing a smile and a friendly greeting. A little community was busy forming.
We stopped for a ‘Welcome Rum’ and toasted the festival, which although small, had a line-up to rival many bigger soirees, with some of the most pioneering artists from the House Music and Breakbeat scene set to entertain us over the weekend.
The Breakbeat Tent
Area 2 was the next installment we frequented upon as we wondered around the festival site. Saturday afternoon, and some serious beats were vibrating their way out of this tent courtesy of Bulla (NSB Radio) and Ste Mac (Nocturnal Boogie). The crowd here were professionals, stalwarts of the Manchester breaks scene – familiar faces from nights at Tangled passionately feeling the music and reminiscing about the nights they’d been out to over the years. Dotted around them were newcomers to the scene, enthusiastic, enjoying the freedom of dance in the way you can only do when your dancing to breaks.
As people spilled out of the tent, dancing on the grass, planes en route into Manchester Airport flew over the site, leading to cheers and excitement from the crowd in scenes similar to those seen at DC10 in Ibiza. The resident Canada Geese also continued to entertain us in flight, showing the human commercial pilots in their metal machines that they can certainly do it better.
Thirst soon set in – luckily for us, Area 2 was perched adjacent to another of the festival’s bars, serving up cool fruit cider in the most amazing eco-friendly reusable glasses (for which you paid a small refundable deposit) – a credit to the festival’s stance on respecting the nature and green land of the working farm, by encouraging us all to re-use and not litter. The only disappointing aspect for us about the bars was in fact the lack of any real ale. With Manchester and the region being home to some amazing independent micro-breweries, this seemed to be a missed opportunity to promote something which would fit right in with the festival’s ethos. Drinks prices were reasonable, as were those of the food vendors on site – a small but satisfying choice of hearty dishes raging from gourmet burgers to fish and chips, crepes and waffles and a selection of vegetarian delights. Just the thing to keep you going though to the early hours with the bars open and music continuing until 2am.
The Barn Party
The highlight of Moovin’ has to be the party in the barn – Area 1. The cows had vacated for the weekend, allowing the revelers into their home which was transformed into an intimate party space ready to host some amazing artists over the course of the weekend. The cows weren’t too far away – they could watch all the fun from a nearby field, probably bewildered by all the excitement, but being a rather nosy species, they seemed to rather enjoy spectating.
The Welsh among the group had no reservations about jumping straight in head first into the abundance of hay bales with giddy excitement, stating “we’ve been having parties in cow sheds for years, and this reminds me of being a little kid!” Queue the onslaught of what must have been at least an hour of solid fun in the hay – fully grown adults leaping, bombing, throwing hayballs at one another, roly-poly competitions, cartwheels, wrestling and general shenanigans taking place all through the barn, to a sound track of the most glorious acid house. It was exhilarating, and the novelty didn’t wear off for the entire weekend.
We loved the barn. The sound in there was good. The lights were atmospheric. There was a bar, and loads of room to dance. You could also sit down if your weary feet needed a rest. There were also art installations.
Graffiti artists were invited to adorn the outside of the barn with their talents to form the Moovin’ 2015 mural, which evolved over the course of the weekend. A video wall featured on the inside of the mural wall, where live visuals were beamed from a projector, incorporated the dancers on the hay bales into the display. Just from looking around, you could tell that a lot of attention had been paid to the little details that make a festival stand out as unique and innovative.
- Live Video Wall visuals @ Moovin’ 2015 courtesy of Ben Nixon.
It seemed that the event had also attracted some really wonderful people of all backgrounds – with most having experience of the House and/or Breakbeat scene, where others had come to adventure and see what kind of delights they would discover. Everyone had an open mind, was easy going, sociable, friendly. There was a sense of peace and community. There was no trouble, the site was respected and looked after by all, and people kept an eye out for each other. It was great to see and a credit to humankind.
Herbie Saccani managed to formulate the perfect line-up for 2015, giving us the opportunity to experience some of the greatest artists playing in a wonderful intimate environment.
- Crazy P
- Breaks Junky
“I want to be back in the cow shed” – Gwen Angood, August 2015.
The atmosphere and friendly vibes all round made Moovin’ the refreshing change we were looking for this summer. A group of festival stalwarts, we had been disappointed earlier in the year when we were victims of crime and an uneasy atmosphere at another small festival. At Moovin’ the whole package was wonderful – the people, the setting, the music – all spot on.
The security staff were helpful and informative and you felt safe. The festival staff just wanted everyone to have a great time and had no issues with joining in the fun. The people who camped overnight said it felt like going back to the days where you formed communities at festivals, made friends, shared a barbecue and helped each other out – this kind of team effort is still out there at festivals nowadays, however it’s usually confined to small groups that already know one another. Here, everyone mingled with everyone and made the whole thing really, really special. It makes a festival. Another thing that made this festival was being able to listen to such a high class line-up within such a lovely setting.
Musical highlights for us included Steve Thorpe’s set, John Da Silva going cow bell crazy with Kerri Chandler’s “Bar a Thym” and then belting out Stetsasonic’s “Talkin’ all that Jazz” and of course, Marshall Jefferson.
Having not stopped dancing for a second during Marshall Jefferson’s closing set on Sunday night, we spent the entire walk back from the festival site to the car park at Compstall talking about how we would be back next year and how much we enjoyed it. Marshall’s set had been on fire, and we were excitedly going through the track list as we stood and waited for our taxi. A Mercedes Benz pulled up alongside us, the window was wound down, and Marshall Jefferson exclaimed “Thanks guys, that was great – have a good night!”
Yes Marshall, it was great. The whole thing was a winner.
Moovin’ have announced that they will be back for 2016, with an introduction of live bands to the line-up, an expansion in music genres to include Funk and Dub, more art installations and Glamping.
See Moovin.info for further information and keep an eye on the Moovin Facebook page.