Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Living it up in the Virgin Media Louder Lounge

I'VE mentioned the Virgin Media Louder Lounge several times during my coverage of the V Festival, so I thought I'd give my readers a little insight into this flipside.

Set up about five minutes from the main stage - but well out of range of the hoi polloi - is this little oasis of decadence and showboating that caters for performing artists and other musicians, celebrities and specially-invited guests - including me.

Each year has a theme - this year's appears to be a psychedelic twister of Mad Hatters tea party meets a nutty professors laboratory, which all glows in UV at night - but essentially it's there to give guests privacy and luxury at a festival.

Fancy a jacuzzi?
It's clever, fun  - and there is also lots of free stuff.

For those inclined this year you could get your make-up done, a fake tan, fashion tips, hairdressing and free headphones. You could even take a jacuzzi. But despite the VIP status of the guests, they still have to queue - sometimes for hours.

You are also granted two free meals a day at a selection of outlets and free drinks - ahh yes! - as well as other little treats.

And - perhaps most interesting for you music lovers (except for the free beer) - are the acoustic sets played by some of the festival artists on a much smaller stage. This year the likes of Paloma Faith and Labrinth performed. There are also some top, top DJs playing party music all day and long into the night.

Jim Shaw's hairdressing gang
As mentioned earlier, this is where the great and the good get to hang out. I'm not a big one for "celebrity" so a lot of the people passing by may or may not be famous. But the likes of Niall Horan from One Direction and Tulisa are noticeable, as are ex-England and Tottenham Hotspur footballer Ledley King and ex-England cricketer Darren Gough, who kindly posed for pictures with me this year.

Paloma Faith performs to the Louder Lounge crowd
In previous years I've seen the likes of Jason Statham, Drew Barrymore, Stephen Graham, Rupert Grint and countless other notable actors and I even got to fist-bump Doctor Who himself, Matt Smith.

Whether these faces ever go out in to the main arena, I don't know. Although Rupert Grint did once put on a horse's head to avoid being spotted by the masses. It didn't work.

The Louder Lounge is a bit of an odd place. A sort of twilight zone that sucks you in. You should be at the festival to go and see bands. And that is mainly what I do. But sometimes it is nice just to put your feet up for half hour and sup back a couple of cold Carlings.

Some of the accommodation on offer to LL guests
Although, to be honest, in previous years the main festival areas have descended into chaos. Filled with bare-chested fellas, pissed up and spoiling for a row with anyone and anything, as litter flies through the air in a whirlwind of "it's my weekend and I can do what the fuck I like."

In these instances - and when the claustrophobia of a packed festival kicks in - I need the Virgin Media Louder Lounge to get me through.

Thankfully this year - I think because more women were there to see the likes of Beyonce and Jessie J - the mood was less macho and threatening. 

Yet the Louder Lounge was still as needed as ever, as I'm sure it will be next year - if they have me back!

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