6 moments from GALA Festival 2021
After 18 months away from festivals, this was truly a long time coming, and one of the best weekends of our lives, one to tell the grandchildren about. Remember the summer of 2021? Back for it’s fifth edition, GALA expanded from the 2-day 2019 offering, adding a Friday night and two more stages to the existing three. With a huge range of DJs and live acts, as well as talks, the festival is becoming a mainstay of the London festival calendar. We’ve pipped off our top 6 moments from Saturday and Sunday for you here:
1.Dan Shake on the Main Stage
This wasn’t Dan’s first appearance on the GALA Main Stage, and it was clear to see why the festival’s organisers invited him back this year. Following Maurice Faulton’s illustrious grooves and percussion, Dan’s distinctive, high-energy sound had the crowd geared up and ready to party as the sun teased its way out from behind the clouds. Alongside his expansive disco selections, Dan threw in crowd-pleasers ‘RIP Groove’ and Michael Gray’s ‘The Weekend’, which served as the perfect warm-up for what was to come.
2. Eris Drew b2b Saoirse in the ‘Pleasure Dome’
Two of the most enjoyable names in house music brought us up to peak time in the perpetually packed ‘Pleasure Dome’, laying down the party tunes to a blissful crowd looking a bit like they’d showered with their clothes on (was it sweat, or rain? – we’ll leave that for you to decide). And the punters weren’t the only ones working up a sweat – esteemed dance troupe Sue Veneers Club, kitted out in sassy lime-green bodysuits, brought so much energy to the dome we thought we were gonna pass out in the heat.
3. Jayda G dropping ‘Both of Us’
Stage-hopping only works at intimate but well-executed festivals like GALA, where you can move from the rousing dome to the ecstasy of the open-air Main Stage in minutes. Testament to Jayda G’s pulling power, the crowd was overflowing for her finale by the time we got there, despite the downpour. With 30 minutes ‘til close as the skies cleared, she played her buoyant ‘Both of Us’. She let loose in the booth, shaking her iconic curls around as she jumped up and down. The crowd threw their hands in the air as she climbed down to the stage, encouraging people to clap and sing along for the final (and best) drop. Euphoria doesn’t cut it.
4. Leon Vynehall b2b Young Marco
We arrived on Sunday feeling a bit worse for wear from the night before, but the post-lockdown shimmer was far from over, how long will it last? 6 more months? A year? A decade? Ushering in the roaring twenties were two selectors made for a moment like this. Hot off the back of his elegant but blistering fourth album was an energetic looking Leon Vynehall, and Dutch, Dekmantel poster-boy Young Marco, who threw down deep but incisive beats in the optimistic looking weather. The crowd lapped it up, we’ve got several unforgettable moments etched into our minds.
5. Jamz Supernova
Having heard the name increasingly over the past few years, we nipped over to the Rye stage for Jamz Supernova, who quickly stated her intentions, slamming through garage, UK Bass and Funky, broken-beat and more general weighty bangers. The BBC 1Xtra and 6 Music resident, and owner of the Future Bounce label, kept the punters gripped through their Sunday fatigue and we didn’t miss a beat.
6. MCDE closes the Main Stage
Motor City Drum Ensemble felt like a fitting end to what is on the whole a pretty heads-y festival. As the other stages wound down, the crowd headed over to the spacious Main Stage which more than accommodated for all the people, to see the ever-present Danilo Plessow close out the weekend with his trademark blend of classic disco, rare-groove boogie and house. There were confetti cannons, and an airing of Moonstarr’s ‘Detriot’, which brought a poignant and reserved class to the finale. Not the explosion of joy one might have expected, but a welcome reminder as to why GALA is still leagues ahead of its competitors when it comes to taste.
Words: Saturday, Emily Watson. Sunday, Leo Burrell