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Wednesday, 21 September 2016

A DEBATE | Do dance tents deserve a place at rock festivals?

Even though I loved the weekend, If I had to talk about one downside of Reading Festival, it would have to be - for me - the type of crowd that came along with the inclusion of dance tents.

And if you take the time to look at some of the comments shared on the festival's 2017 event page - used to voice opinions on what bands should be on the roster for next year and other feedback - you'll quickly see that I'm not alone.

Within the first week or so of the festival ending, there was largely a big debate about whether or not dance tents should even be at a rock festival and what type of crowd these particular tents brought.

Here are my thoughts.

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Music | Music Festivals | Rock Music | Rock | Dance Music | Dance | Debate
Credit: Kennerdeigh Scott

First and foremost, Reading is a rock music festival. It may not be as 'heavy' as festivals such as Download and Hellfest for example, but it's certainly not a pop festival like T In The Park or Bestival. That said, I believe it's a nice 'in between' festival - more pop punk, than anything.

Despite it being a rock festival, I did enjoy the dance tents. I felt they provided variety and also something else to do when the headline sets were over. I was surprised to find that come 10pm or 11pm, all major sets had finished.

This meant that for those of us who wanted to keep partying or who were in the mood for a dance, could do so by visiting the dance tents.

However, I can very much see why people disliked the idea of having dance tents there, mostly because Reading is not a dance festival. 

If you look it from the other side of things - big dance festivals like EDC or Creamfields don't have 'rock' tents, because everyone gathered there is there to essentially just dance.

Reading Festival for many people is like a stomping ground for all things familiar. Without wanting to pigeon hole, at the festival, you'd expect to find all types of people but also people especially with similar interests to you - perhaps a similar fashion sense and most certainly with a love for rock music.

So it does seem odd that you could rock up to Reading Festival and camp next to someone who, when striking conversation with them, claims they're most excited to see some DJ you've never even heard of.

Variety is nice - but is it really necessary to add dance tents to a rock festival when dance fans already have festivals like EDC and Creamfields to satisfy their needs?

Off course it was great for people who liked both kinds of music.

The thing is, there was also a LOT of people who were obviously there just for the dance music.

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Music | Music Festivals | Rock Music | Rock | Dance Music | Dance | Debate
Credit: Mark De Groot

I'll admit, a lot of the time walking round, I was quite surprised at the crowds the festival had welcomed. There were so many groups of young lads quite obviously on a 'lads on tour' vibe, f*cked off their head on drugs, shouting out stupid things and, even more annoyingly, chanting out very stupid chants.

Of course you'll get people like this everywhere - whether you like rock music or dance music or anything else.

The biggest thing that really ticked me off - and other people - was when crowds of people came into the sets of rock bands and shouted out silly chants loudly or just entered the tent out of boredom to drink. 

The most annoying part for me was when I finally got to see 21 Pilots and during pivotal moments of their set, like when there was quiet for us to enjoy the atmosphere between songs or an emotional moment during a particular moving song, it was ruined by people suddenly and loudly inappropriately chanting out things like 'WHOOP THERE IS'

You know the chant. It's the same chant that people sing on every night out for no reason. And I didn't mind hearing the chant in the few times I did go into the dance tents. I didn't mind hearing the chant every minute or so on the walk from the camp and towards the arena - I got it, everyone was in a good mood and singing together.

But what I did mind was when it happened inappropriately in some of my bands favourite songs. It didn't ruin their set and it didn't ruin their songs - but it was incredibly annoying and I believed there was no need for it.

If I'd gone into the dance tent and heard a silly chant, I'd have no room to complain.

I wouldn't go to EDC and start a mosh pit (which some people see as dangerous) in the middle of a dance set - so I struggle to be okay with the fact that people come to Reading and start dancing and singing dance chants in the middle of a rock bands set.

Now, I know it's just a chant, but this is the strongest example I can think of. It wasn't just a stupid chant. It was also people coming into the tents when my favourite bands were playing and chatting loudly, swigging beer whilst off their face and not enjoying the set.

But at the end of the day, I can't put this behaviour just down to the inclusion of dance tents.

So, to conclude my opinion, I think dance tents are a good idea and that they offer a bit of variety, but I only welcome them when they don't distract from the vibe of the festival. If it continues to be a thing where dance music takes over Reading Festival, I'll be highly disappointed. There's festivals like EDC and Creamfields for that, and it would be a huge shame to see Reading lose it's heritage and history as a rock music festival.

Although, saying that, Die Antwoord aren't exactly rock but I'm a massive fan of theirs and loved their set!

I took my question to Facebook once more, and here's some of the responses I got.

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Music | Music Festivals | Rock Music | Rock | Dance Music | Dance | Debate
Credit: Kennerdeigh Scott

Of course we should have a dance tent, SOPHIE was one of my fave acts of the weekend. People who say we shouldn't have a dance tent are the same people who say there shouldn't be grime artists there. - JJ Ward

For me personally at the grand old age of 40, I loved the dance tents. My son who I took for his first festival experience loved the rock music and I loved the dance aspect so for me, there was something there for all tastes and everyone is happy. If you don't like something, you don't have to watch it. - Jessica Chatters

Reading has a place for dance tents! It's expanding to different types of music so everyone can listen to something they like there. People keep saying it's a rock festival but times have changed and it's become a festival all sorts of people can enjoy. - Ellen Owen

I have varying views on this. I have been attending Reading or Leeds since 1994. I now go with my son who is a huge rock music fan. Reading/Leeds has always been an alternative rock festival and I am disappointed to see anything other than those genres on the mainstage. What annoys me the most is that you don't hear any of the dance fans offering to open a rock tent at Creamfields and give up their main stage to acts such as Biffy Clyro in the name of diversity! - Kay Norman

I love dance music and didn't mind it to a certain extent, but the tents seemed unecessary. I was there to enjoy rock music - not dance music - and I didn't enjoy the vibe some of the crowds brought with them - Briony Kenyan

Reading has always and should be a rock festival with phenomenal bands who have headlined in the past such as My Chemical Romance or Green Day, and it should focus more on that. The dance tent has a place but should be less focused on. - Ben Rist

Reading Festival should have a dance tent as its a festival that incorporates many different tastes. But I really feel as if the dance music should be kept to its tent and not the main focus of the festival. - Niamh Degregorio

It's a rock music festival with a lot of heritage in that music genre. There are plenty of other music festivals for dance - Creamfields for example. However, I don't see a problem with the dance tent, just keep the dance music there as it doesn't extract from the idea of the festival. Just stop the 16 year olds starting mosh pits and chanting 'whoop there it is' - Robbie James

So there we have it. Although many people are for dance tents, many people also agree that the dance attitude should be kept in the dance tents and that there is a time and a place for such silly chants.

What are your thoughts? Let me know!

And, please note, I loved Reading Festival and this is not at all a complaint - just a debate from both sides!

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  1. Oh that's a shame! At least you enjoyed most of the festival. Would you go again?

    1. I would! It didn't bother me too much, just at parts, but I thought it was worth at least a debate :) x

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