Dancing our way into a more beautiful world
Campo Sancho - Festival of Joy
Parties, festivals, celebrations.
To be totally honest I’ve not always found them the easiest things to fully attend to in recent years, lots in that, and not for this post.
But let’s say I’ve been learning to understand and let go of some of that difficulty.
Festivals are of course a vital part of the human experience, to gather in community and celebrate life, love, and all of its wonder.
In our Western cultures, fixated on modernity and progress, the grind of productivity seems often to me at least to devalue the need for celebration and festivity.
Did you know for example, that in the Middle Ages, there was at least one festival each month and everyone was welcome and encouraged to participate.
That’s a bank holiday every month… in the Middle Ages.
Modernity to me attempts to project a way of life that is more sophisticated, always better than times gone by, but when it comes to festivities and celebration we have been stripped and deprived, our calendars decimated by the western productivity horror story, ‘busyness’ and the toxic masculine shame of ‘not working hard enough’.
So I’m now intentionally seeking to participate in more festivities in these times of great unraveling.
And what if an essential practice for these overwhelming times is actually more festivity, to come together in our tribes and communities and to be with each other, listen to each other, support each other, learn from each other, laugh and cry with each other.
Dance, create and eat together.
Find joy together.
So with that I’m excited and very grateful to be attending and performing at a beautifully formed festival - Campo Sancho on the weekend 29-31st July.
And if you’re curious and free that weekend then why not come to ?
If you don’t know Sancho Panza then you’re in for a treat.
Matt Brown and Jim Angell, Sancho Panza co-founders of what began as an underground sound system in West London in the early 1990’s, famous for crystal clear pumping sound, chugging house music and one of the maddest and loving crowds around.
These boys were true pioneers of the warehouse party scene in London. Check their history here
When I moved to London in the mid 90’s as a fledgling DJ and party organiser from Bournemouth, I was introduced to Matt and Jim at Carnival.
Matt then came down to an underground party I was promoting and DJ-ing at on the Edgware Rd, we connected immediately from a music vibe and quite quickly they adopted me into the Sancho family, offering me sets at their pioneering and infamous parties in studios, warehouses and on boats on the Thames, ( I also moved into Matt’s flat when I was struggling with a place to live)
This eventually led to sets at their jewel in the crown - Notting Hill Carnival, the legendary Bank Holiday weekender on the streets of West London. A street carnival which began in the 1960’s, with deep roots in British Black cultures, which became one of the world’s largest street festivals
At that time there was no dedicated static house music sound system at Carnival apart from Sancho Panza.
Being offered a set at Sancho Panza was an incredible honour, a career highlight, the chance to play elevated on a crazy stage set in the streets of West London on a massive sound system, with thousands of beautiful people dancing together in the streets.
A Priti Patel nightmare.
The most loving, up for it and appreciative crowd - so many extraordinary experiences, connections and vibes like no other.
This is a beautiful compilation I found on Youtube that captures some of that carnival vibe. This was before the days of smartphone cameras and videos remember (probably a good thing tbh)
I was lucky to play Carnival several times, including spinning a set before a secret appearance by Sasha ( a DJ hero), these were the days when DJ’s played for no fees, playing Sancho Panza at Carnival was priceless.
I managed to record my set from year 2000 on a pocket mini-disc,
There’s a moment half way through this set, on what was a sweltering hot sticky August Sunday afternoon - I’d just dropped a test pressing from Steve Lawler - ‘Rise In’, he’d given it to me a couple of weeks before at a gig in Middlesborough.
Anyway it’s got a tribal vibe, hypnotic, the clouds began to darken as the tune progressed, the street was absolutely jammed, the heat was intense, I could feel the weather shifting and changing with the music, intensity building, I can only describe the energy as cosmic, and then into a John Digweed remix of Underworld’s ‘Cowgirl’ which continued to build as the sky got darker and darker and then just as the breakdown kicked in….the heavens opened and it pissed it down with rain for a couple of minutes, thousands of beautiful dancing humans - a swirling, seething, soaking mass of energy and joy.
It was a moment I will never ever forget.
It was like the sky, clouds and rain were dancing with us, there was no separation. Truly entangled.
It was primal, spiritual, cosmic, ecstatic and so very special.
A DJ moment for me never repeated.
For 25 years Matt and Jim put that experience on.
A free street party from another planet.
A love planet.
Designed with such beautiful detail - parties which welcomed all people from all backgrounds, all from a place of deep love and trust.
I’m not sure I understood how extraordinary that was then without now being able to look back from the context we are in today.
For a long time, Sancho Panza was my extended family, in the early 2000’s we began hosting the BBC Radio One stage at Glastonbury Festival on the opening Thursday afternoon through to late night, an 8 hour journey warming up for the live Essential Selection broadcast. For several years this became the unofficial kick off party at Glastonbury, as there was no other ‘amplified music ‘ until Friday in those days.
The field would be absolutely heaving with party people by sunset.
I was a very lucky man.
My life partner Seemah and I spent much of our courting years in and out of Sancho Panza parties. Can you spot her below ?
Sancho Panza shaped part of me for sure.
Campo Sancho Festival 29th - 31st July
Over the last few years Matt and Jim have been crafting a weekend festival version of Sancho Panza in a beautiful spot of Hertfordshire countryside - Campo Sancho.
In their words…
Campo Sancho is a small independent family friendly festival, detailed and home-made with Love and Dedication……we say festival…..it’s actually like the best warehouse party in a field you’ve ever been to! It's located deep in the Hertfordshire countryside, less than an hour from London. We've taken our learnings from over 25 years of Carnival, numerous warehouse jams, boat parties and joyous gatherings and planted them all in a stunning, magical site, surrounded by trees.
Campo Sancho 2022 takes place from 29th to 31st July....... come and join the ever - smiling dance floor!
This year, as well as bringing my whole family and lapping up the festivities with a quality spread of dedicated and diverse DJ’s, musicians, performers and much more, see here for listing - I’m also going to be performing.
On Saturday afternoon I’m going to be riffing on The Spaceship Earth in the Village Hall.
And on Saturday night I will be laying down some deep, chugging cosmic house vibes back to back with my long time buddy and fellow Sancho DJ Jay Bold in the Snare and Hi-Hat tent.
A taster of some of these vibes is here…
As Matt and Jim say -
We’re not trying to change the world
But for 3 days we come together with like minded people
On a mission to dance, to cuddle and to laugh.
Come join us if you fancy a giggle.
If you fancy it - go get your tickets here
And lets dance our way into a more beautiful world
Peace and Out
(I also have a few discounted tickets, message me for details)