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How Glastonbury's Block9 changed music festivals for the LGBT community

Heading to Glastonbury this year? Then you're gonna want to check this out...


The story of Block9 is one of drag queens on lighting rigs, depravity in an open field and the delivery of a vision created by two men which takes the essence of a dream and brings a palpable reality.

Gideon Berger and Stephen Gallagher, the brains behind Block9’s feast for the senses discovered each other 10 years ago. A clash of minds, ideas and concepts, the creative spark which was ignited between the two has led to the evolution of one of the most outlandish, delicious and surreal sensory experiences that this years festival goer will enjoy.

Having witnessed the unbridled excesses that the LGBT community enjoyed a Burning Man in Nevada in the late nineties, Berger and Gallagher set about plotting a shift in UK festival culture, a shift towards immersion.

First appearing in 2007, Block9 presented an out of the ordinary space, which embraced diversity and lured festival goers into their midst with the promise of gregarious frivolity and unparalleled exuberance.

The shift had begun, a move towards homo extremism at its finest was now in motion and as never before, the discerning gay Glastonian now had an all inclusive smorgasbord of outlandishness to revel in.

The Block9 area has continued to expand in popularity and status; the drag queens have long since been freed from the responsibility of tent building and are now able to spark carnage amongst the hoards of people who embrace the ideal of naughtiness. Major names regularly take up headline grabbing slots and the dreams of a unique experience which transport you from the Glastonbury fields into the crazy, uninhibited and exciting world of Block9 are well and truly a reality.

This year will not disappoint with visitors stepping into a temporary reality unlike any other. Flanking one side of the field is “London Underground”, a six story mock up of a London tower block complete with a full sized replica of a tube train emerging from the fifth floor. At the other, “NYC Downlow”, a current world interpretation of a New York City tenement which dopplegangs as an underground gay nightclub resurrecting New York’s Golden age of excess. Emerging between the two “The Genosys Stage”, Block9’s outdoor performance space, showcases the pioneers of electronic music from the mid eighties through to the present day.

Block9

Headlining the area this year is David Morales who pays tribute to the late, great Frankie Knuckles at The NYC Downlow. The set promises to be a unique showcase of classics from the man who changed the face of music and gay culture forever, With special guest live performers and the chance to relive some of Knuckles’ time honoured tunes, it is a must see for anyone who loves house music at its best.

Seeing is believing when it comes to the Block9 field. Take a slice of the unbelievable, a dash of fantasy, throw in a field full of Glastonbury’s finest, a troop of drag queens and some of the hottest music played at the festival and you’ve just about scratched the surface of what the area has to offer.

The creative brains of Gideon Berger and Steve Galllagher are buzzing with concepts for future experiences. This imagineering pair will doubtlessly continue to take the lucky few on wild adventures through the tantalising and extraordinary for years to come.

Block9 is a sensuous and delicious minx; a spellbinding voyage that should not be missed at Glastonbury 2014.

Block9

The history of Block9...

2007
Block9 make’s its first appearance at Glastonbury. With disco on the decks, transvestite hosts, vogue balling disco splits and compulsory stick-on moustaches, NYC Downlow becomes the festival’s first gay venue.

2008
Having established itself during 2007 the "world's first travelling homo disco” continues the success of its infant year. Increasing numbers of Glastonian’s head to the area “after hours” to revel in the 24 hour party atmosphere.

2009
The largest number of guests make their way to the field since its inception in 2007 and witness Placid playing a groundbreaking set.

2010
London Underground makes its first appearance at the Block9 field with The Nextmen and Annie Mac playing.

2011
EYESONTHEWALL collaborated with the Block9 Team to present a new type of visual production at London Underground. The two venues play host to acts including Miss Pink, Youngsta, and RDK HI FI and Strictly Rhythm.

2013
The Genosys stage makes its explosive entrance on the Glastonbury landscape. An audiovisual hybrid that blurred the boundaries between art and music, Genosys celebrated the pre-digital dance floor and brought Block9 its first outdoor party space.

2014
NYC Downlow, London Underground and The Genosys stage will once again play host to some of Glastonbury’s best house music including David Morales’ tribute to Frankie Knuckles as well as playing host to some of the festival’s most extraordinary visuals.

Words James Woods, @Spinglespot

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