This week our founder Grace Fodor discusses the surge in mature festival goers, clubbing in your 50s and whether we are ever too old to party 'til dawn!
Throughout history, humans have been known for a love of music and dance. Pretty much since the dawn of time we’ve gathered together to let down our hair and free ourselves with movement and music.
It’s how we bond, celebrate and in some cultures, mourn. It’s part and parcel of the human experience; fundamental to who we are as a species.
It was only in the latter part of last century that it became considered a ‘young’ thing. When Glastonbury was first held in 1970, it was populated by (and performed at by) the young, and when Studio 54 was at its disco dancing height the faces were by and large all under 25.
Totally different genres but the same idea – young, beautiful people using music to escape their day-to-day lives and party the night away.
Fast-forward to the present-day music scene and the landscape has very definitely ‘matured’ in every way. Hence many of us ‘older’ music lovers (myself included), who love festivals and happily hit the club dance floor whenever we get the chance, being deeply offended by a survey released by Currys which said that ’37 was the age you’re too old to enjoy clubbing’.
This isn’t only horribly prejudiced against those of us who actually enjoy clubbing, it leads me to wonder who’s answered the survey. In fact, another recent study by Eventbrite US found that a whopping 44% of festival attendees are age 35 – 54 and 22% are 55 and over. Far from being about the young – festivals, which are where lots of us go to let down our hair, are becoming the preserve of the very grown up.
Whereas 10 years ago, older people were considered a bit, dare I say ‘desperate’, now not only is the audience far more diverse, there are entire festivals devoted to meeting the needs of a new breed of adults – those experiencing what I call ‘middle-youth’ who love music and still want to party away the weekend like it's ‘92.
I go because I LOVE to dance, be free and laugh with my friends. I don’t want to be at home ready for bed at 10, purely because society says I should be. I work extremely hard as the owner of Studio10 and there’s nothing more fun than getting my wellies on, getting outdoors and dancing ‘til 6am, like I did last year in Ibiza.
I’m not the only one either – David and Victoria Beckham looked to be having a wonderful time at this year’s (record breaking) Glasto. So did Brad Pitt and Johnny Depp.
Once upon a time they might have been the only ‘older’ face in the crowd but that’s simply not the case anymore – just ask Mary Berry who enjoyed Ibiza in her 70s.
This shift is led by the current warmth previous decades are held in musically by generations across the spectrum today. Liam Gallagher, Foo Fighters, Stevie Nicks, Elbow aren’t ‘owned’ by any one decade. The disco vibe bands like Daft Punk put out appeal to older people and those discovering it anew.
People 50-plus loved them first time round, and young people today see their contributions to music as part of their musical heritage, in much the same way that my generation saw the Beatles. Essentially, they’re bloody cool at every age, so it stands to reason that every age wants to enjoy them.
I also think that our changing attitudes to ageing and what each ‘life stage’ looks like has a huge part to play. 50-plus women were once supposed to like slippers and a nice book, not a party tent or sweaty dance floor, but as the offerings at these huge gatherings have become more sophisticated (Prosecco and Gin bus anyone) so has the attendee – and they expect to have as much fun as they can.
As adolescence now stretches into the 30s, now ‘middle-escence’ – that time when your kids are grown up but you’re still young, fit and full of energy and fun – stretches from mid-40s up to 60s and even 70s. We’re the ones who attended the great musical events the first-time round – and you never grow out of loving that vibe.
We’re often healthier, and we have far greater disposable income than in our own youth. Plus the music WE made popular back in the day is what everyone wants to hear.
Online ageing publication Rejuvage put 50% of the Glasto headliner acts for 2017 – a year being touted as the best ever - at 40-plus.
If that doesn’t show how getting older is now getting cool, nothing will. Now if anyone has tickets to Creamfields – give me a shout!
ELton John, Alana Hamilton and Rod Stewart at Studio 54 | AP PHOTO/G. PAUL BURNETT
Soho House Festival | House Festival
Brad Pitt at Glastonbury 2017 with Royal Blood | MUSICFEEDS
Foo Fighters, Dave Grohl (48), at Glastonbury 2017 | BBC