Beat-Herder is a magical oasis of pleasure seeking mayhem, hedonistic self-gratification and electronic debauchery. Nestled away slap bang on the Lancashire/Yorkshire border, it’s been three whole years since the disco lords of the North West’s festival scene held their last weekend of mad house shenanigans. 2022 was destined to be a classic – and boy did it deliver on a colossal scale. Here are our favourite eight things about what will probably end up being our favourite weekend of the year:
1) Nile Rodgers & Chic on the Friday night
Beat-Herder usually has headliners such as Orbital, Basement Jaxx, Leftfield or Faithless – so Nile Rodgers & Chic were definitely a surprise when the promoters announced the bill. However, Nile Rodgers unleashed his artillery of monster tracks and gave us two hours of arms in the air euphoria. David Bowie’s Let’s Dance, Madonna’s Like A Virgin and Material Girl, Duran Duran’s Notorious and The Sugarhill Gang’s Rapper’s Delight were all there – because Rodgers either wrote or produced the original versions of these hits. But the bomb was really dropped when they played Daft Punk’s Get Lucky – full on festival pandemonium.
2) Raving in the Toil Trees
For 361 days of the year, these trees are home to deer, hares and other elements of Mother Nature. But for this weekend only, the wildlife appeared at the hands of Rob Da Bank, Marshall Jefferson and Roger Sanchez who all made sure that even the trees were rocking from side to side. Toil trees is the heart and soul of Beat-Herder – from 10am until 4am every day, the place was full on bouncing. There was a bar in there, a cave with a flashing dance floor, a man made waterfall – and a hair dressers just in case you fancied a snip. Such beautiful woodland!
3) Paul Taylor in the Fortress on Sunday night
The only time all weekend that you had to queue to get in somewhere was on Sunday night when Retro legend Paul Taylor rammed the Fortress. Everybody turned up to see him play his old school classics set – this was full on bedlam. Jimi Polo’s Better Days was pure ecstasy and the fire coming out of the turrets made for a mind blowing and memorable final night.
4) The Secret Swimming Pool
Beat-Herder is proper quirky – they even have their own little swimming pool. The problem is, if 10000 people knew about this swimming pool then there would be a lot of water based bother. So, the clever organisers make this swimming pool a “secret” and they have built it at the back of the church – hardly anyone knows about it! You just have to bring your shorts or swimming cossie and jump in. There’s changing rooms, a life guard and a nice array of inflatables to mess about with. Back stroke and dive bombs – anything goes.
5) The Colour Fight
Things got very messy when the festival organisers handed out several kilos of colour dash powder and turned everyone’s clothing attire into a tie dye heaven. Imagine a Jackson Pollock inspired live performance with youthful revellers having escaped from their 9-5 nightmare and you’re half way there. Great fun.
6) Fireworks on Saturday night
Everybody loves fireworks and for five minutes on the Saturday night, all those in the main stage area looked up and rode the gun powder night sky train. Beat-Herder do not do things by halves and this really was a cross section of Sydney Harbour NYE or London on Guy Fawkes Night. Hot Chip literally came onstage to a bang.
7) Scrap metal car disco
Set aside in the Toil Trees is a disco like no other – the dance floor is the bonnet and roof of several scrap cars. You can sit in the cars, pretend to drive the cars, pretend you’re a taxi driver and charge fake fares in the cars, wind the windows down and smoke in the cars, jump from bonnet to bonnet or roof to roof – it’s full on 90 mile an hour scrap yard junkie mayhem pure bliss.
8) The Church
Without a doubt, the craziest part of Beat-Herder is the church. It may be small in size (50 people and it’s rammed) but it has a massive sound and personality. Paul Taylor did a secret gig there at midnight on the Saturday night which was one of the highlights of the entire weekend and the Sunday Service served its parish delightfully. Where else can you dance on pews and rave with the reverend? This is a church and religion like no other.
Photos: Giles Smith and Andrew Whitton
Published on 16 August 2022 by Duncan Whittaker