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The GuilFin
Ambient Lounge

Performance Tent Tour of UK Festivals including Glastonbury & GuilFest

“The GuilFin Ambient Lounge is always one of the most pleasant places to visit at Glastonbury.”

Glastonbury Festival on the Ambient Lounge

Feel Free to Loiter Within Tent

The GuilFin Ambient Lounge was a 24hour performance tent that appeared at numerous UK music festivals and developed quite a following as a great place to chill-out, witness some great acts perform or simply watch weird films and experimental visuals.

Resident Sabbatical DJ, Gareth

It wasn’t originally planned as a non-stop space but the first night we ran the Lounge at GuilFest in Surrey, we didn’t want to interupt the great vibe, or disturb all of the resting festival goers, so we decided to stay open… This meant the core organisers got very little sleep over the duration of a festival, but we supported each other and managed somehow!

The Lounge began as an alternative information stall (see the GuilFin Media project under the Special Projects menu) at festivals such as WOMAD (the World of Music & Dance Festival started by Peter Gabriel) and it grew, adding a TV wall from Jellytree, a sound system from FishPig and gradually other elements over the years.

We hired ever bigger tents and made room for more comfy furniture plus more and more elaborate decoration.

But at it’s heart was relaxed vibe and the GuilFin information stall, distributing the latest campaign news on social justice issues, animal rights, environmental concerns, etc.

The sofas and armchairs were very popular with weary festival goers. Photo: Liam Rich

The tour of UK festivals was coordinated each year by me but it was definitely a collective effort to bring all the elements together successfully.

Jellytree Productions managed the music side under David Simpson and the TV wall and technical demands under Craig Hills.

Sabbatical Sound, Fishpig and Pineapple Tribe provided the sound systems and many of the resident DJs.

Most of the decor was made and installed by Thayen of GuilFin with additional elements from Total Phabrication, Tim Scobey and several others.

From all of us working together in the Ambient Lounge, we all went on to form The Coalition collective, which is another story to be told elsewhere.

GuilFin toured festivals for over 10 years but the first year as the GuilFin Ambient Lounge was at GuilFest in Surrey and the final year it happended was at Glastonbury Festival – although it appeared numerous times at both events and at many other one-off festivals too.

“For those moments when you want to down the pace just a little and sprawl on a dog-eared sofa, listening to fine tunes and watching a Magic Roundabout video.”

Glastonbury Festival on the Ambient Lounge

Other smaller festivals that the GuilFin Ambient Lounge appeared at included the Beach Festival (promoted by Megadog – the providers of underground rave systems) and Eclipse Festival (promoted by Megadog, Essential and music impressario Harvey Goldsmith) and One World Frome Festival (promoted by Zion Train’s record label).

Oracles of Alternatrivia

Live video visuals from a temple of telemonitors. Offerings of visionary art, TV imagery and film psychedelia.

Aural Arrangements

Pure ambient sounds and the most mellow music under the ultra-violet decor and cathode-ray tubes – energy systems for sensory perception.

Oral Absorption

Juices, teas, coffees and chocolatey liquids to calm ya karma. Chill swills of tranquility and peaceful fusions of fruity flavour. Prepare the path to your now infused mind to absorb some new ideas and appreciate a few alternatives…

Aura & Attitude

Each month, GuilFin provided a free guide to alternative events, festivals and DIY culture. Covering environmental, health and social justice issues, it was considered an essential guide to the summer festival scene.

Keeping party people happy and aware of what was happening was the basic idea behind GuilFin. This free-listing-where-it’s-at attitude then spread and converged with the festivals themselves to form relaxation zones with massaging tones ~ of sound, light and liquid refreshment. Not just a unique chill-out space but a perfect place to receive GuilFin’s free info on the future of the planet, our health, the society and issues beyond the conventional.

The decor took many hours to set-up and needed frequent repair

“Like walking into a Dr Who set interior designed by an enthusiastic LSD-quaffer. Mad psychedelic backdrops compete for the eye’s attention against silver painted mannequins, toys, mushroom lights and a bank of screens showing videos. Knackered old sofas and armchairs are strewn about.”

Glastonbury Festival on the Ambient Lounge

Photo: Liam Rich

Regular Lounge Performers

A few of the artists who frequently appeared in the GuilFin Ambient Lounge included…

Sabbatical were key figures in the UK free party scene in the 1990s and beyond with the Sabbatical Sound system and members such as Tey and Gareth DJ’ing regularly at many free raves and in the GuilFin Ambient Lounge at multiple festivals.

DJ Jason Barton was a founder member of deep house crew Inside-Out formed in 1992 in Wolverhampton with Deep Systems’ Matt Pond.

“Don’t let the word ‘Ambient’ fool you – GuilFin’s Liam Rich explains that the Lounge can be mellow, it can also be banging: “The ambience comes more from the mood of the people than the music. We play wide-ranging music – funk, psychedelic, ska, drum and bass, trance – and more.””

Glastonbury Festival on the Ambient Lounge

Frontside (formerly Soulsides) had a hazy take on trip-hop, tooled-up with flute, Theremin and scratchin’ vinyl.

Regulars in the Lounge, Welsh favourites LLiDD often played eight hour sets of live improvised electronic delirium – from the chaos of the evenings to the hazy calm of the mornings.

Photo: Liam Rich

Da Magna was another member of the Sabbatical Sound DJ and sound system collective. Nowadays, when he’s not making tunes or DJing around the world as Untold, Jack runs Hemlock Recordings.

Dave O’Connell often performed as the Liquid Laugh live P.A. with his bleepy breaks and big beats.

There were many other acts that featured in the Ambient Lounge and I’ll add to this list as we recall them!

Photo: Liam Rich
The Ambient Lounge tended to use different tents at each festival but they were always colourful, enhanced by the TV wall and plenty of banners and decor. Photo: Liam Rich

“GuilFin’s Ambient Lounge is a classic example of what must be the essence of Glastonbury: the urge to put on entertainment, pull off mad stunts and give people a good time, for no other reason than that you can, and have the energy to do so.”

Glastonbury Festival on the Ambient Lounge
Photo: Liam Rich
The TV wall by Jellytree was an essential feature of the Ambient Lounge
Dancing was a regular activity although it was usually less energetic than this
Photo: Liam Rich
Legendary frontman of The Clash, Joe Strummer, kindly did a DJ set in the GuilFin Ambient Lounge at the Beach Festival in Cornwall

GuilFin Ambient Lounge at Glastonbury Festival

Short films of the musical acts by Jellytree Productions

DJ Jason Barton in the Ambient Lounge at Glastonbury Festival.
An excerpt of a live P.A from LLIDD at the Ambient Lounge at Glastonbury Festival.
Dave O’Connell doing a Liquid Laugh live P.A. of his bleepy breaks and big beats at the Ambient Lounge at Glastonbury Festival.
DJ’s Gareth &Tey playing out some banging techno in the Ambient Lounge at Glastonbury.
This is DJ Tey playing out some banging minimal techno in the Ambient Lounge at Glastonbury.
Steve Ez of the UK players plays some conscious roots reggae accompanied by Kwasi Asante in the Ambient Lounge at Glastonbury.
Frontside live set in the Ambient Lounge at Glastonbury Festival.
Jack Dunning, A.K.A. ‘Da Magna’, A.K.A. ‘Untold’, playing out some dark breaks in the Ambient Lounge at Glastonbury.

“A welcoming and chilled-out place where you can get away from the chaos of the festival and chill and relax and gather your thoughts before going back out for some mayhem.”

Glastonbury Festival on the Ambient Lounge
The GuilFin Ambient Lounge. Photo: Liam Rich
Live music in the Lounge
The TV wall grew over the years. Photo: Liam Rich