The train from Valencia arrived in Benicassim 40 minutes late. No biggie. Most of the alighting passengers had decided to walk to the festival site so I tagged along. It was a hot slog. No shade and by the side of a road, but we got there. I traded in my first bit of paperwork for a wristband allowing me festival access for the next four days, and made my way to Campfest, the campground attached to the festival grounds. Here I traded in my next paperwork at the Glamping Company portacabin for another wristband, giving admission to that area and my pre-ordered tent. They gave me a nifty little lamp and a combination lock. There were tons of helpful friendly staff and Natalie took me to my tent. Number 1046. And there were at least another 5 rows of tents behind mine. So at least 1200 tents in this bit, the two-man tent area. There was another area for larger tents further down the hill and an area adjacent for ‘bring your own’. A big site then and lots of people.
By the time I had bought my festival tickets, a couple of months ago, all the towns hotels were sold out. So here I was. Glamping.
So, I’d heard of glamping. A made up word. Gl for glamorous and amping for, well, for camping. I suggest a more accurate word would be Shamping where the sh stands for shit. What a dump. Syrian refugees, and even Cardiff University students would turn up their noses at this place. Underfoot it was uneven rocks, dust and gravel. No paths. So there goes another pair of shoes. White leather loafers the only footwear I had with me. No way they were going to last four days.
Then there was the litter. It was like a landfill site without the seagulls or any gypsies to keep it tidy. Although the festival starts Thursday you are allowed on the site from the previous Monday and the earlier arrivals had been busy trashing the place. You embarrass yourself as a newbie if you use the many bins scattered around. The piles of rubbish outside your tent are the measure of how much you have enjoyed yourself. Your debris tells people not only that you drink a lot of vodka and redbull, but how cool you are. It’s a territorial thing. Hyenas do the same thing with their piss. These, mainly young, and, sorry to say, mainly British, festival goers revel in their squalor. They think it’s rock ‘n’ roll. It’s not. Rockstars don’t live like that. They live in luxury. In mansions. Mick Jagger lives in a mansion made from lesser, smaller mansions. And he uses his bins, or so I’ve heard.
Anyway suffice it to say, my home for the next few nights left a little to be desired. I wasn’t too bothered. I had a plan. I intended to watch the bands most of the night, go for breakfast and air conditioning in the town, then get some rest on the beach during the day.
After depositing my meagre belongings in the tent I walked to town.
For safety, pedestrians were routed around a go-kart track and under a major road making a mile walk into two miles. The town was pleasant enough with plenty of middle-of-the-road tourist restaurants, all of whom had hiked up prices for the duration. It was a futher half mile plus to the beach. Nice enough but unremarkable. I would do this walk a lot over the next days to escape from Camp Dystopia.
I got back about 8.00 and from outside the stage area tried unsuccessfully to phone The Little Nurse, who was chilling, back in Valencia. There was a problem with my phone. While I was messing around with it, three young guys from Dundee approached me with two questions which I was able to answer with a yes and a no. Could I take a picture of them? and, did I want some cocaine? I leave you to decide which was the yes and which was the no.
Come on. No body refuses to take a picture!
The next two questions I answered with a yes and a yes.
Was I on my own? and
Did I want to hang out with them?
We flashed our wristbands and staked out a spot to watch Two Door Cinema Club on the main stage. We must have looked an odd quartet as we seemed to be a magnet for people who needed narcotics and we were asked a good few times. I learned the sign language. It goes like this. Stick out your tongue about half an inch and touch it with your forefinger. Translation: ‘Do you have any drugs, spare, or for sale?’ The area filled up and we watched the band. They were excellent and when they finished the boys went off to one of the rave stages and I was off to the Visa Stage to watch Spanish axeman Izal. Also pretty good.
I had some good expensive beer and some poor cheap food and hung around the bar area for a little while. I was the oldest person around. By a street. There weren’t many people even half my age. I figured that made me the wisest person still awake in Spain. You know you’re getting old when you find a bottle of vinegar in your kitchen cupboard and think ‘yeah, that’ll probably last longer than me.’
I went up to the tent. Bedlam. You could still hear the bass from the dance stages and there were about 20 different tunes playing in and around the tents on various portable speakers. I wired into my iPod, but even my own soothing playlists couldn’t drown out all the extraneous noise. I stuck it out till 7.00 then went for a shower. And thereby hangs another tale…
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