Glastonbury's greatest: go with the flow

Something happened around the turn of the 1990s, when the rave generation gatecrashed the hippies' party that was Glastonbury. Mike Holden remembers it all too well

I was immensely fortunate to have arrived at Glastonbury for the first time in 1990. It was a time when the government was beginning to legislate against the al-fresco excesses of rave culture. And on the back of the anti-poll tax movement, many of the thousands who descended on Worthy Farm bought with them a fusion of electronic music and anti-establishment politics.

My own personal concerns were less romantic: I had come with a carload of hooded tops with the intention of flogging the lot. In the end we got side-tracked, sold four, gave some away and the rest were stolen. And that was Glastonbury lesson number one: Go with the flow, man.

No one act summed up the festival better that year than The Happy Mondays. The spectacle of Bez subduing a crowd of tens of thousands armed with nothing more than a pair of maracas is not something you forget in a hurry. Then Archaos set fire to the stage. The other great thing that year was the final appearance of the Travellers' Field. At that time members of what was loosely defined as "The Peace Convoy" were admitted to the site free of charge. Often these were whole families, and they bought with them their own world. They even had a school. Benign as that may sound, stumbling across it late at night for the first time was an experience that could subtract confidence from the most lucid soul. There were men who looked hundreds of years old, wild children, feral dogs, a surfeit of LSD and stages playing sub-Hawkwind acid rock.

It was a sign of the times that I can also recall being part of a small crowd paralysed into submission for some time by a small tent displaying fractals and emitting a single sub-bass note.

Having had the most fun I had ever had in my life, I have been back every year I could since. I am still convinced this is the best time you can have, certainly in Europe, and maybe the world.

But there were the bad bits. In 1995, for reasons that escape me, some friends and I decided to jump two people dressed as rhinos who were collecting for charity. It wasn't robbery, it was meant to be a joke. But when one rhino head rolled off to reveal a young girl in tears there was nothing to laugh about. Apologies were made to the rhinos before an unruly, vengeful mob. I felt terrible; I still do. The NME listed the rhinobashing as one of their "lows" of the festival. If you were that girl, please seek me out this year - I owe you a cider if nothing else. I'll be in the Healing Field, looking as guilty as I can.

Mike Holden

The GuardianTramp

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