We Are FSTVL review: A tellytubby playground for adults with trippy beats

Aerodrome - Circo Loco at We Are FSTVL. Picture: Jenna Foxton

Aerodrome - Circo Loco at We Are FSTVL. Picture: Jenna Foxton - Credit: Archant

A playground for big kids, tune chasers and beat boppers – We Are FSTVL in Upminster went off with a colourful bang over the bank holiday weekend.

The event was the biggest dance music festival in London and the south east, and as well as lots of stages, tents and pop up decks there was a mini fair complete with swing chairs, ferris wheel and helter skelter.

With grassy hills segregated into different areas of play, the site was like a hedonistic Lord of the Rings map mashed with a Teletubbies TV set.

A tunnel of massive silver hoops drew in large crowds, and only someone with lashings of self control could stop themselves from clicking off a few selfies in the beaming sun.

For everyone’s safety armed police guarded the entrance to the festival, but this didn’t dampen party-goers – who shared spirits and community spirit while waiting in line to.

Complete strangers entertained each other with festival stories and shared deodorants before all liquids were confiscated at the check in point, a new measure introduced to tighten security.

“We will all smell by the end of the day but we will all smell together,” said a woman in the queue cheerfully.

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Lots of big acts in the dance world were performing along with a few more commercial names, but you would need to be into the former to make the entrance fee worth it.

A set by Armand van Helden went down well with the raucous crowd, and sounded amazing over the large sound system.

By the end even the security (who could give the Beefeaters a run for their money in being completely emotionless) were subtly tapping their toes.

The crowds went seven days of crazy when Craig David came on stage, playing a mix of new and old songs.

As someone who listened to his first album on repeat during a family holiday – so much so that by the end of it my grandad knew most of the words – I was excited and slightly apprehensive before he came on.

Was I about to get my childhood nostalgia trampled upon in a slightly muddy field in Havering?

No, I didn’t have to rewind to the glory days to have a good time, he was fantastic and catapulted the audience into celebratory place of fun.

He even managed to bring in song of the moment Did You See by J Hus, and everybody was singing “came in the black benz left in the white one”.

What was surprising was how interactive the set was.

Maybe I am used to listening to bands at festivals rather than DJs, but I thought seeing a live performance broadcast over a sound system would be slightly impersonal.

The singer’s passion for music, and sense of rhythm shone through and he took the audience on a journey, no doubt conjuring up good memories for the 10,000 strong crowd.

Another highlight was the decor in the Kopparberg Urban Forest.

Caged off in a circle of dark woods, as you enter the space you are met with trees and green foliage trailing the room.

There were also bathtubs filled with flower arrangements, which sounds very strange but together with the other decorations created a brilliantly surreal experience.

The Glitterbox area was also a favourite and had dancers strutting onto stage with poles. Well known tracks were mixed with dance beats and most of the older people at the festival seemed to migrate there.

For the first time, camping tickets were sold, but for those having to get home, free shuttles to towns in Essex and London.

Overall it was a fun day out but for music lovers who like just commercial songs or a wide variety of genres then it probably isn’t the festival for you.

If you enjoy house, dance and techno then you should definitely go along next year.