Block9 returns to Glastonbury Festival with Notting Hill Carnival, queer icons, kink and couture

Legendary creative group Block9 have announced their long-awaited return to Glastonbury Festival bringing queer nightlife, culture, underground music and even a brand new collaboration with Notting Hill Carnival to the hallowed fields in Somerset.

Block9 are a London-based organisation led by Gideon Berger and Stephen Gallagher producing artwork and installation exploring the intersection of music, art, theatre and politics through impressive immersive experiences.

They first started collaborating with Glastonbury Festival 15-years-ago to design and produce their own area, also called Block9, bringing dancers, musicians, DJs, composers, filmmakers, drag performers and everything in between across various venues in two of the festival’s fields – Block9 East and Block9 West.

This year Block9 are bringing along a packed line-up including Todd Edwards, Honey Dijon, Floorplan, Justin Strauss, Steffi, LSDXOXO – and even a collaboration with Notting Hill Carnival for the first time ever.

Featuring the world’s first 100 per cent green electric carnival float, the Notting Hill Carnival collaboration with Block9 and Glastonbury Festival will include carnival processions across the festival site, with dancers and masqueraders. The float will also feature a sound-system with Caribbean sounds from some of Notting Hill Carnival’s finest selectors and DJs.

At the heart of Glastonbury Festival’s Block9 is IICON – a colossal, immersive audio-visual arena which this year will include performances and appearances from the likes of Shygirl, Hercules and Love Affair, Sherelle and Overmono.

Block9 are also responsible for launching Glastonbury Festival’s first-ever queer bar NYC Downlow – a queer utopia and multi-roomed temporary club space housed inside a replica of a seedy New York bathhouse-cum-meatpacking warehouse circa 1982. It’s not only considered one of the best club’s at Glastonbury Festival, but one of the best clubs in the world, with a motley crew of go-go-boy butchers and gender-bending drag performers.

Glastonbury Festival’s NYC Downlow in 2017 (Matthew Walter)

And of course, NYC Downlow will be making it’s grand Glastonbury Festival return with a line-up including Honey Dijon, Soul Summit, rave royalty Grace, Justin Strauss, The Carry Nation and House legend DJ Paulette. There will also be performances from Maude Adams and All Those Children – an east London performance troupe led by cabaret icon Jonny Woo – balls, summer parties and plenty of kink and couture.

Also included in the Block9 area is the Genosys outdoor arena which this year celebrates the role of music as a form of political protest and marks the 30th anniversary of Castlemorton, the biggest illegal rave ever held in the UK, which resulted in the passing of the original Criminal Justice and Public Disorder Act, limiting the power of people to protest against government policy.

Block9 co-founder Berger explained why it was important to pay homage to Castlemorton, saying: “30 years on, we continue to fight for the utopian dream Castlemorton represented.

“A dream of music, community, and progressive inclusivity free from state control and corporate profiteering.

“Block9 is a direct descendant of the Castlemorton epoch and retains direct links to the people, DJs and crews behind the era defining rave itself.

“Today, Block9 provides a festival platform for a new generation of artists and DJ’s upholding the very same political principles at the core of dance music both in 1992 and 2022.”