It is hard to describe why I find DTRH such an uplifting experience. To quote this year’s Herald review “you’d have to be half-mad to dream up Doune the Rabbit Hole. Since 2010, the family-friendly Stirlingshire festival has appeared to shirk any nod to corporate sponsorship or commercialism, in favour of a home-grown hillside hoopla.” The “appeared to” hides nothing – it most definitely does shirk all sponsorship and commercialism, and that is a little it of its charm. Another element is, as Festival Director Jamie Murray put it “It’s only a pop-up community, but it’s a community nonetheless.” Great way with words, that man. Wonder where he gets it from?
It really is a community, and one in which former strangers talk to each other readily and sometimes profoundly. Add to that a delight in the skills of music creation of highly eclectic kinds, and you achieve this happy mix between the cider fair in Far From the Madding Crowd, a hippy sixties commune, and a very peculiar Glasgow night club. Throw in hundreds of very happy children and beautiful tranquil countryside, and you start to get the idea. I always return envigorated and somehow washed clean of the pollution of the corrupt abuses of power I analyse in the other 51 weeks of the year. I don’t pretend this makes sense. It’s magic.
Could partly just be exhaustion of course – I put in one 20 hour shift organising and running the bar, and at one stage had 13 hours sleep in 96 hours. Many readers of this blog were there as volunteers or just soaking it in, and a special shout out to Clark, Nevermind and Bill who all put in an astonishing amount of unpaid labour. It is worth pointing out that none of the directors, organisers or volunteers is paid or remunerated. The bands are.
This nice little video from Stirling Council gives some idea of the daytime atmosphere
While there is a lovely gallery here from the same source.
I love this video, which briefly features a head shaking Nadira and gives a broader perspective:
Finally this little snippet gives an idea of the audience experience in the evening:
The challenge now is to keep its special atmosphere and amateur community nature as the festival gets bigger every year. Part of this is eschewing plastic commercial music acts. The continued involvement of the readers of this blog is another part. Planning for next year has already started. I have just about come down from the experience now, but feel buoyed amidst a sea of troubles.