“Have you been Manx’d before?”
I’d snatched a seat next to him, not far from the stage. He was shirtless and in his late 40s, with a guitar under his plastic seat and slapping his knee with the kind of enthusiasm I’d come to expect at the Woodford shows.
“No, I’ve never seen him before,” I said. “Excited to, though.”
My friend Jarrah and I had made our way in from the back of the tent, where there was standing room only and people spilled out the back into the hot sun. Jarrah was easy to follow as he’d that morning bought what I can only describe as a patchwork quilt Jester’s hat, complete with a little bell and a Woodford 2015 Volunteer’s charm hanging from the tip. Lucky guy that he is, we’d managed to snake our way inside and score two seats in the second row. Harry Manx was in front of us, hushing the audience with a quiet, commanding energy and his smoky voice.
Woodford was an incredible week. Our little crew became a little tribe,, everyone up for anything. From 11am healing soundscape workshops to 12:30am shows at the Tropic, the week flowed by in little snippets of extraordinary moments and hilarious memories.
Perfect weather, free-range people and a beautiful energy permeated every inch of the festival. I couldn’t speak more highly of the week, the organisation, the experience. I caught up with old friends and made new ones. I went to salsa workshops and discovered new bands.
We regularly danced until 2am and stayed up around the campsite until wee hours. Around day 3, I felt a heavy kind of relaxation seep in and was carried by it throughout the remainder of the festival, a sort of reward for making it through 2015 and gift with which to start the new year.
“You scored seats,” my shirtless neighbour remarked. “2016 is going to be a lucky year for you,” he grinned.
I closed out New Year’s Day at 4am, dancing to the last music of the festival with the kind of fire that and indefatigable energy that I’d felt for the majority of the week, surrounded by dancers embodied with the same passion. One in particular became my dance floor compatriot, a long-haired surfer type wearing women’s long-sleeved silk pajamas that he’d bought from the Woodford secondhand shop.
As I boogeyed my way to the early hours of the morning, surrounded by shining faces and people full of joy, I couldn’t help but feel that Manx-man was right, and that 2016 is already off to a pretty great start.