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Gala Festival: Review

Gala Festival entered its 2nd year with a highly credible line up of house and disco, this time heading to Peckham Rye Park in South East London. We sent our Nightlife Editor down to the Big Smoke to see if it lived up to the hype.

When the words ‘thunderstorms predicted’ and London day festival come together you rarely expect to have a good time. Queuing in the rain is bad enough when you know you’re gonna be sleeping in a tent, but usually there’s the promise of the rain going away over the 3 days of a festival. At a day festival, if it rains all day, it rains all day. But oh boy, did Gala (and the weather gods) prove everybody wrong. With not a cloud in site, we walked the short distance from Peckham Rye to the park and found ourselves in a modest queue considering the festival’s 9000 capacity, and were soon getting down to the novel sounds of Sheffield based Maurice Fulton on the Rhythm Section stage.
The sound was as clear as the sky above, and we spent most of the day on this stage, treated to a magical set of afrobeat, reggae, house, disco and much more from Mr. Scruff, who was later joined by RS boss Bradley Zero for a b2b. The Pleasure Dome (hosted by Horse Meat Disco) was an absolute sweatbox thanks to the sun beating down, but we caught the pinnacle of DJ of the moment, Honey Dijon, who was making quite the statement to the heavily LGBT+ crowd with massive beefed up edits of anthems like Donna Summer’s ‘I Feel Love’ and Sylvester’s ‘You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)’. She was aided by the dancers of Glastonbury’s infamous gay club, NYC Downlow, whose appearance on stage ushered huge cheers from the crowd. This touch gave the festival’s LGBT+ emphasis a real authenticity. There’s a palpable energy surrounding the LGBT+ house and disco community at the moment – transgender Honey Dijon is at the forefront of it – and you could feel every inch of it in that tent.We caught some of Crazy P on the main stage, who drew a huge crowd, and the end of Derrick Carter’s disco set, who closed the festival with Queen’s ‘Another One Bites the Dust’. The main stage had impeccable sound, and it was loud, which is more often than not the problem at inner-city festivals. But Mr. Scruff’s inimitable intimacy was the highlight of the day, he somehow transcended the chaos of a 3 stage festival and drew together the crowd with ambitious selections. All in all, Gala is highly credible festival which impresses on every front – very little sound spillage across the stages, short queues for the bars and toilets, and a low key crowd who are still up for it. We’ll certainly be returning in its 3rd year in 2019.

Photos: Joe Corteling Photography (

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