Glastonbury’s queer utopia Block9 in 9 incredible photos

Elton John may have dominated the headlines around Glastonbury Festival this year, but it was in the festival’s south-east corner where the most unabashed queer joy was found.

It was a memorable Glastonbury by all accounts: Elton played what he says was his last-ever UK show, Lana Del Rey was escorted off stage after her late-running set was scuppered by a curfew, and, for a full weekend, literally every person on the farm genuinely believed Britney Spears was about to make her Glasto debut.

The line-up felt particularly stuffed with LGBTQ+ talent this year – Lil Nas X preceded Elton with a set that was proudly gay, Rina Sawayama gave a theatrical and visceral performance in which she celebrated Pride, and Jake Shears brought his eternal sparkle.

It felt as though everywhere you looked, there was a Pride flag – including, at one point, on the Pyramid stage, thanks to Lizzo. Glastonbury has always been an inclusive, progressive place – everyone is welcome, and everyone is looked after. But this year, with attacks on the LGBTQ+ community so widespread, it felt even more special. Especially at Block9.

One of Glastonbury’s most notorious night-time areas, this year Block9 dedicated its programming to standing against right-wing hate.

“In the last few years, our freedoms and our right to protest have come under sustained attack. The creation of new draconian laws means our liberty is being systematically eroded,” co-founders Gideon Berger and Stephen Gallagher said ahead of the festival.

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“Block9’s 16th birthday party is a stand against right-wing populism, and a celebration of all things alt!”

If you beat the queues – it’s one of the most sought-after areas after dark, so naturally not everybody makes it in – you’re met with the IICON stage. From inside a giant head, world-class DJs play – some you’ll have heard of, others who’ll make their mark.

Block9 is also home to NYC Downlow, considered one of the world’s best LGBTQ+ clubs. Inside the pulsating, sweaty tent was a weekend of freedom, queer expression and mesmerising performances.

Words, frankly, can’t do justice to the atmosphere – it’s a safe haven, a place to let your body move freely, to find euphoria, community and love – or at least, a fumble in your tent. So, whether you’re coming down from the Glastonbury blues or hyping yourself up for a trip next year, here are nine pictures that sum up the best of it.

Bimini at NYC Downlow. (Kamil Kustosz)
Block9. (AllanGregorio)
IICON. (Tom Marshak)
The Blessed Madonna (Zenhofer)
Block 9. (Henry Mills)
Block 9. (Henry Mills)
Block 9. (Kamil Kustosz)
Block9. (Martin Perry)