Festivals - Féile na Fáilte
opinion/analysis Saturday March 24, 2012 11:08 by Auld Rotten Hat - Occupy Galway seanhatalofa at gmail dot com
The importance of celebration and festivals
For a number of years now, I have been going regularly to music festivals – everything from Glastonbury, Electric Picnic, Life and much smaller independent music festivals which I have always found to be a huge contrast to the often staid, boring meetings and rallies on social justice issues.
I’ve been involved in many left-wing and environmental movements over the years, I have attended countless pro-peace and anti-globalisation meetings and protests and I’ve seen politics and in-fighting destroy so many of these causes from the inside out. We are often our own worst enemy and the establishment knows this well; for years employing the very successful strategy of ‘divide and conquer’.
Many of us in the Occupy/ anti-capitalist /socialist movements also have a tendency (let’s be honest) in being overly pragmatic, dogmatic and taking ourselves too seriously.
For a number of years now, I have been going regularly to music festivals – everything from Glastonbury, Electric Picnic, Life and much smaller independent music festivals which I have always found to be a huge contrast to the often staid, boring meetings and rallies on social justice issues. One could argue that there is a political side to festivals – with stalls from Amnesty International and Greenpeace for example, but in my opinion (especially with regard to the smaller uncommercial ones,) festivals have an enormous role in helping to create a more equal, just society. This may seem like mere hyperbole, but hear me out; once the commercial, greedy, money making side of festivals is taken out, music, fun and laughter serve as a tremendously unifying force, capable of bringing people together in an unrivaled way. At a good festival, all socio-economic backgrounds, all walks of life, all races and religions and all kinds of general diversity join together in a way most organizers of meetings, rallies and protests can only dream about. This is not to take away from such worthy events but the Left (a word which I’m reluctant to use since I believe we need to get away from the old left/right wing divide) needs to learn from past mistakes and employ much more use of humour and theatrics while protesting and trying to get our points across.
Apart from a passionate interest in music, it is for this reason that I came up with the idea of organizing a small festival with some friends, and the name we came up with was Féile na Fáilte which took place in the Midlands in a beautiful forested location. We had 2 stages: a 100 year old church no longer used for Mass and a large marquee which served as a ‘chill out’ tent (which in fact, turned out to be the most ‘hopping’ place of the two). About 150 people including performers attended the event which took place over St. Patrick’s weekend and we had djs playing everything from swing, rock, electro, techno, d n’ b, dubstep, psytrance, dub etc as well as acoustic and trad musicians, spoken word, comedy, poetry and even rap as Gaeilge. In the evening fire performers and a stilt walker entertained us further. By all accounts, everyone had a fantastic time despite this being our first time organizing a festival and some niggling organizational and technical problems. However, sunshine and consistently good music led people to forgive us these shortcomings. I sincerely hope there will be many more to come.