Groove Garden has been a staple part of Standon Calling for the last 10 years. We reached out to Franc, the mastermind behind it all, to recount how Groove Garden became the heart and soul of Standon Calling’s dance party.
The first year I attended Standon Calling I closed out the show with a DJ set in the Cowshed and was instantly hooked, and really wanted to get more involved the following year. I had previously run my own festival called Bloom which had more of a dance edge that I thought Standon was missing, and after badgering Alex for a few months he finally gave the green light for me to curate a space – and the Groove Garden was born!
Originally conceived as an Ibizan style pool party, the music was designed to be downtempo with a funk / soul / disco vibe that you could relax, recover, boogie and swim to during the daytime. Then as the sun went down and the kids were packed off to bed, we could raise the energy and really get the party started with some more upbeat house and techno sounds.
For the first couple of years, we brought in our own structures, sound system and lighting, and music was provided by my extended network of regional DJs who I knew could play the right type of music at the right time of day – as the music flow has always been the most important element to what makes the Groove Garden work.
Alongside Cowshed, the Groove Garden was one of the few late-night destinations you could find once the Main Stage had closed, and there were a couple of years where it became a victim of its own success, with way too many people trying to cram in around the bottom of the pool. I’m pretty sure we caused more than a few headaches for the site and security teams, but it was bloody good fun when it was in full flow!!
We soon outgrew the pool, and perhaps the best year for me was when we had the 600 capacity Geodesic Dome. The music was outstanding all weekend and we were full from the moment we opened until we played the last record. Awesome.
Over the years we have been joined by some amazing guest DJs such as Maseo from De La Soul, Crazy P, Dr Packer, The Refex, Faze Action, Justin Robertson, Ray Mang, Eli Escobar, Luke Solomon, Alan Dixon, Dicky Trisco, Pete Herbert and James Holroyd – plus many many more. All of whom have been supported by a core of fantastic residents and local guest DJs who have made sure that the Groove Garden is a fabulous little corner to visit across the weekend.
One of the best compliments we get is the various groups of festival regulars who come and seek us out every year for their annual Groove Garden boogie – you know who you are!
Oh, and to Iain Mackie – it’s Groove Garden, not Grove Garden – still saying wrong after 10 years LOL!
Thanks Franc! We can’t wait to boogie with you again at the Groove Garden stage.