After a heated debate between catching the first train at 0620, and heading off around midday, 9am was the determined time that Comp-A-Tent and friends would head off to Borough Green Station, to get to Innocent Unplugged.
Now in its 2nd year, Innocent Unplugged offers digital natives the excuse to leave their phones behind, spend time with friends and drink smoothies.
And super-smoothies, and coconut water. And carbonated fruit drinks – basically giveaway a ton of freebies to sample, whilst creating good times and helping to nurse hangovers – the devious good samaritans!
Off the back of a Friday night Molkie Party, which saw a number of classics, such as beer pong and Reij Keij, this Comp-A-Crew raised surprisingly early, with breakfast cooked by 0830, and everyone on the road by about 0930 – unbelievable given that there were 7 of us!
Within an hour and half, we saying our last goodbyes to society, stocking up on supplies from the Co-op and off to the festival on a Yellow Lemon. The universe was kind, the 2000 in attendance had not all gathered at once, and after having all 4 of my bags thoroughly searched (a flash back to being the one who was constantly drug and explosive tested in Australian airports) we were through and setting up our tents next to the bacon van; a cruel irony given we were taking turns cooking this weekend to save money.
Either through good fortune, or Amanda’s observations, we ended up pitching the Comp-A-Tent 10m from the forest entrance into the festival area, creating our own camp cluster with the rest of the group.
With lilos and B.’s air-trapping sofa, we looked quite the pros, the high footfall of the area guaranteeing a constant flow of n00bs who would comment on the Comp-A-Tent and sofa. Then they’d come sit with us, much like watching the Graham Norton, or for our American friends, James Corden, including our very own Camp-e-oke!
There was Sam, part of the Innocent Technical staff who joined us early on, cooler bag full of drinks we greedily devoured; Ian with his brightly coloured trousers; Tom and Helen, of whom Tom had quite the gift for accents and at this point it looked as if we were in danger of never getting into the Festival! Not necessarily the worse thing, given we the company we were attracting.
However, Sam had mentioned that Dan, aka Dan Germain, one of the Innocent Founders was doing a talk. Naturally, we had to go!
So off we went with the crew, through the woodlands pass, through a maze of ginormous bushes, thick with sweet, golden flowers that formed almost a maze and divided the performance spaces into distinct areas – it was beautiful, like a festival in a mad, rich, green-fingered uncle’s mansion – probably.
Alas, our student-style tardiness left all but the tightest spaces at the very front of the tent. Weavingly, slyly, we snuck to the front, taking up an ‘oops upside your head’ style formation, just as Dan walked on stage.
Having spent the week preparing for a 30 minute talk on the Comp-A-Tent journey, it was exciting and strange to hear a 17-year history condensed to fill the same time!
For me, and Amanda most likely too, it was inspiring to hear a success story from the early, difficult start-up days. Seeing and hearing the passion, belief still there after such success and time, delivered in a relaxed, entertaining way, devoid of the distraction of a Powerpoint Deck.
In the following Q&A, I managed to ask Dan what were his 3 ‘Watchouts’ for early stage start-ups.
I think we’re doing well so far!
With an hour until laughter yoga, the site needed exploring!
By now the sun is high in the sky, kissing my skin with red lipstick, as my shoulders turn the same shade as the hands of a person licked by kittens, but allergic to their saliva.
En route the crew splits, new friends are formed, drinks are consumed, some innocent, some not-so, and then we are onto laughter yoga.
Via the toilets.
For the Gods have turned my bladder to that of an excitable chihuahua who pees every 5 minutes.
The tardiness this creates forces me to sneak round the back of the tent, tiptoeing like an evil meerkat over the laying bodies to my friends. The event starting, I turn to see who but the instructor of my very first laughter yoga class at the Museum of Happiness!
By the middle of the session, either through laughter, or the dancing, I am sweaty! The worse time to have to lie down and rest your head on someone’s belly – to that person, you know who you are from the sweat stain still on your shirt, I am SOOOO sorry!
After a couple of beers, a few new friends, a chit chat and sit down, what better is there to do than exercise with Mr Motivator?!
Using her festival expertise, Amanda leads us around the back of the tent, down the far side, and then, there he is, the time-travelling Mr Motivator! Seriously, the dude has NOT changed!
For a full 30 minutes the crowd whoop, cheer and lightly bash into each other as we flick our limp wrists and gyrate – it was quite the experience!
Dinner to follow as we gather the crew once again, settling down for a dinner of risotto, with peas and chorizo. After a long cook, it’s greedily devoured, the envious glances of fellow, less-organised campers feeds my glee almost as much as the food!
Finn and Jake hats at the ready, we get changed. I’m all dolled up in my universe legging, iridescent, 90s windbreaker jacket, and after a few drinks and chat with new and old friends a like, campfire time has come!
Regretfully, no Ging Gang Goolie, and despite good intentions, not even Wonderwall gets sung fully, as verses are remixed, rehashed and decimated by the out of tune, out of time and out of it wailings of 40 or so party revellers.
Then, like the accidental letting off of a half-blown balloon, the crowd is racing, stomping and fighting its way to the People’s Stage to hear and see none other than DJ Yoda. Again I walk to the toilet, conscious that my grasp of my bladder may not survive two hours of flailing to hip hop.
I feel like it was awesome, on a deep internal, guttural level. No cuts on my hands confirm that my rave gestures have thankfully failed to connect with any faces, and I find myself surrounded by friends, on the opposite side of the tent from where I started.
Once again, my moves have broken down dimensional barriers, transported me through the bodies of a crowd and delivered me to my friends – good job!
Noticing the cries of my aging body, I retire from the campfire, brush my teeth for 10 minutes as I make friends with exiting festivalers, slide beneath my survival blanket, and sleep; knowing that if I died tonight, I had danced my all, and would leave a beautiful corpse.