Latitude 2009

Latitude: After Dark, our fun in the woods

Michael Bonner

So, as ever with Latitude, there's as much fun to be had after the official events of the day have wound down...

Guilty Pleasures has become something of an institution here, taking over the Comedy Arena at 10.30pm for three hours of Queen, Dolly Parton, and your auntie's favourite soft rock classics. You can argue, of course, that there's no such thing as a guilty pleasure -- hey, what you like is what you like, regardless of consensual opinion, right..? Certainly, there's plenty of people who were doubtless earlier sampling the multifoliate delights of, say, Julian Cope, Franz or Black Kids, who're now kicking back to Salt-n-Peppa or the Pointer Sisters. And a bunch of semi-naked men of a certain girth strut their stuff on stage.

If Guilty Pleasures has become a branded event here at Latitude, it's the smaller events lurking in the woods that offer the most surprises -- in the Sunrise Arena, or the Aspall Cyder area, or just something random that you stumble across, like Brigadoon, that's vanished the next morning. I find, variously, three different parties in the woods, each playing entirely different music (one indie; one drum 'n' bass; one techno) to a bright-eyed, smiling crowd who meander merrily from party to party. The trees are lit up in yellows and greens, calling to mind the sleeve of Echo & The Bunnymen's Crocodiles album. Talking of sleeves, word also reaches us of a Sleeveface party on the Lake stage.

The Literary and Poetry Arenas are also still running late into the night -- I catch the end of John Niven reading from his scabrous music industry satire, Kill Your Friends, and Irvine Welsh, who treats a post-midnight audience to some excerpts from his new novel, Crime. There's even a poet on late, who begins one ode: "Heather Mills McCartney, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love the way you walk..."

Anyway, it's started raining (though John confidently predicts it'll blow over), and I'm going to head off in the direction of the Radio 4 Arena. Later, there's Just A Minute -- and I wonder whether Nicholas Parsons is here yet..? Maybe he's camping..? Maybe he was at one of the woodland raves last night. Ah, probably not.


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