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Supernormal 2016

Sam Bennett attents the experimental arts and music event he's so far neglected - despite growing up a five minute walk away

"I’ve lost my Supernormal virginity, finding a welcome innocence in the process."

I grew up in Ipsden, I can remember the sounds of Supernormal reaching my mum and dad’s house from Braziers Park, but did I ever take the five minute stroll up the hill to see what it was all about? No. I don’t recall even reading the letter informing residents that they could attend for free.


This year I decided on two things; 1) I’m going to start reading for pleasure again, however little pleasure it brings me, and 2) I’m going to go to the experimental arts and music event I’d so far neglected.

Based on the photography of previous years and the title of the festival, I’d imagined Supernormal to be ‘weirder’ than it actually turned out to be. I’d pictured myself walking through woodlands and distorted mannequins on ropes dropping down from the branches in front of me, and Dada theatre groups suddenly appearing so as to entertain and terrify me.


This was not the case. Or rather it was not the case for me; photos suggest others experienced an event similar to the one I had predicted. And, anyway, I'm not saying my actual Supernormal was devoid of the eccentric – attendees in Helter Skelter hats and a pop-up TV talk show saw to that. Plus I absolutely did not leave the festival disappointed.

I left feeling somewhat…charmed. Charmed by how it embraces its rural surroundings; a feature only slightly diluted by a band called Flowers Must Die being on the bill, and well represented by an incident I witnessed walking home on Saturday afternoon (before going back to the festival that night).

I was wandering through the woods when a man in front of me crouched down and picked something up off the ground. The face of a woman he was with displayed an excitement some festival goers might show when finding lost narcotics. “I think it’s a woodpecker feather,” she enthused.

It warmed me. As did other ways in which Supernormal celebrates its environment; be it through campfires, a shed style stage, hay bales, a bar in a barn, musicians playing live in the woods, or bare footed punters.

This said the site was home over the weekend to stalls that would not look out of place in Camden market and an unapologetic graffiti wall befitting of an urban carnival.

When all is said and done, I’ve lost my Supernormal virginity, finding a welcome innocence in the process. It might have been a man dancing as manically and carelessly as his little cartwheeling daughter, or people taking time out from the experimental happenings for a game of mini chess – whatever, it was there.

I even found myself in a state of innocence on the Saturday night, having only consumed a fruit smoothie with a dash of rum, resulting in a walk home that didn’t boast the fall Friday’s return trip to Mum and Dad’s did. I’m proud of that; goals…you get nowhere in life without them. Speaking of which, I may have made it to Supernormal, but I’ve still got that pleasurable reading to do. That will take me through to next summer, at which point I may well make my way back up the Supernormal hill – mannequins or not.

- Sam Bennett


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