Festival Season by Joycelyn Longdon

LOVEBOX: Leading the way in Festival Culture

London’s 2019 festival season is fully underway and this weekend all roads lead West as LOVEBOX hosts its second edition in the new Gunnersbury Park location.

Following its stellar debut appearance in this new location, the festival is getting ready to continue its celebration of cultural exchange. With an eclectic mix of artists hailing from all corners of the world and a real focus on the creation of intentional safe spaces, prioritising their most vulnerable attendees, Lovebox is living up to its reputation as a forward thinking and conscious festival. With there being no shortage of festivals in the UK, LOVEBOX has created a unique positioning for themselves.

This year, the stages of LOVEBOX will be graced by the likes of Solange, Chance the Rapper, Kaytranada, Slowthai and a plethora of talented, boundary pushing artists. The festival is also the first to partner with a local community, Pxssy Palace, to ensure the safeguarding of marginalised groups that will be in attendance. Pxssy Palace is a space that prioritises womxn, trans & non binary poc and their partnership with LOVEBOX returns this year through The Sanctuary, an intentional space within the festival where workshops and other mindful activities will be held. In an industry that has made not more than superficial stands to safeguarding vulnerable individuals through hashtags and website blackouts, LOVEBOX is leading the way in conscious creation and genuine customer care.

THE SANCTUARY with PXSSY PALACE

Akin to club culture, there is often a degree of risk to both women and members of the LGBTQIA+ community in festival attendance. Partnering with local community leaders, Lovebox is actively leading the way of mindful and intentional space creation. This year they partner for the second time with Pxssy Palace to bring back The Sanctuary, a space for womxn and LGBTQIA+ in the festival. The area serves as a safe haven for guests to report anything from feeling uncomfortable, to sexual violence and a friendly space where members of the community can offer advice, support. Most importantly it is a space where victims are believed. The importance of spaces like this in mainstream festivals is unparalleled and seldom seen.

We spoke with Pxssy Palace to gain further insight into the of their partnership with LOVEBOX, the importance of intentional spaces in club culture and the values upholding The Sanctuary.

What’s the partnership between LOVEBOX and Pxssy Palace all about?

The partnership is about creating a space which tackles rape culture in festivals and supports the most vulnerable groups, women and LGBTQAI+, to create a more balanced experience of the festival.

Why is it important for intentional spaces as festivals and club hospitality?

LOVEBOX were mindful of past negative experiences and were able to recognise that they do not have the in-house experience to make the necessary changes.

What measures do Pxssy Palace undertake to ensure the desired environment at The Sanctuary at LOVEBOX

The Sanctuary is a place of respite for the most at risk [people] at festivals. We offer a cosy and relaxing safe space away from the hustle and bustle of LOVEBOX Festival. Support [is] offered through workshops (consent, self love, anxiety release and self defence) which [are] centred around well being. Spike detection kits are freely offered to guests as well as the promotion of sexual safety with vegan condoms, dams and lube. Additionally a hydration station was setup to offer free cucumber infused water and tea to guests. A communal library was also setup along with free massages and Tarot readings!

RORY BRETT

Trippin also took the opportunity to sit down with Rory Brett (founder of LOVEBOX) to chat about the evolution of the festival since its inception in 2002, staying authentic in a saturated industry and curating representative line-ups.

Talk to us about the importance of cultural exchange at LOVEBOX.

We relaunch LOVEBOX every year, new partners, new stages, new creative, new food, new talent, new artwork. We approach the release of the show like it’s a theatrical release for a film.

London demands this level of refreshment from us. London life, tastes, art, likes and dislikes move and change so much, we have to be up to the minute and on point with where the trends are and always mapping how we can represent them in the right way. If you look tired, bored or out of shape in this fast moving city – it’s over!

We have been going for 16 years, but every year should feel like our first year in its ambition. We also don’t want to change London, we want to entertain it!

The UK is nothing short on festivals. Why has it been important to create a culture around Lovebox which separates it from the rest of the crowd?

In the competitive landscape of festivals and increasingly so in London, LOVEBOX is lucky in many ways as our 16 year heritage has put us in South London, East London and now West London at key times of the generation of these parts of our city. We like to think we have played our part in highlighting the design, music, culture and artistic talents from these parts of the city as well as working in the communities to give opportunities to young people in our business.

Other festivals will come and go, but we hope we are as authentic today as we were when it first started. That’s what’s important to young Londoners.

That authenticity shines through when you partner with local communities like Pxssy Palace. Why was it important for Lovebox to have the Sanctuary in partnership with Pxssy Palace?

We have worked with Pxssy Palace for a while and they are a treasured partner for our show. The Sanctuary is a critical safe space for the event for anyone to enjoy, but is focussed around the LGBTQ+ community primarily. We were the first festival to co-create such a space and it represents Lovebox being a place where EVERYONE is welcome.

Everyone deserves the right to have fun, let go the troubles and enjoy an amazing show with friends, free of intimidation or judgement. Lovebox has been such an organisation since the very mixed audience club nights that are legendary to many. The great team and Pxssy Palace also make sure that we are up to date with the changes in culture and thinking in this community and ensure the festival is marking time with these. It’s important.

What’s the process in curating the LOVEBOX line up and ensuring you have the right representation?

London is a top flight international city and our line ups need to reflect that with talent from all over the world.

We have always been proud of our curation, we have always had mixed flavours and genres of music to try and bring different music tribes together to enjoy the festival. It makes for the best audiences and the best times.

We look for artists that are available and try to make a compelling business case to acts to play the show, often creating routing for them to do a run of shows. Sometimes we win the talent on financials, in many cases they want to play our show because of who we are and because of our reputation. It’s always competitive, it’s always expensive, but what makes a great line up, is the magic moment where the sum of the parts becomes greater than the whole and the entire line up vibrates. That’s when the crowd goes bananas for it!

Photography: Laura Kirwan-Ashman, Sophie Jones & LOVEBOX

Film: Laura Kirwan-Ashman

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