Latitude organiser happy with festival’s middle-class reputation as yoga is introduced

Latitude Festival director Melvyn Benn. Latitude Festival director Melvyn Benn.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014
5:52 PM

The organiser of the Latitude music festival in Suffolk has said he is unashamed of the event’s middle-class reputation - as he announced campers are to be invited to take part in early morning yoga sessions.

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Just how middle class is Latitude? You decide

This year’s festival boasts an olive bar.

While pints in plastic cups remain popular, flat whites are almost as commonplace.

Radio 4, home of Gardeners’ Question Time and the Afternoon Play, hosts regular broadcasts from the festival site.

Festivalgoers can commute each day from genteel Southwold, instead of camping. There are local tips on the festival’s website.

One woman was overheard debating the best shop to buy hummus from.

Artists performing at the festival have latched onto its reputation, and often poke fun at the middle class audience. One comic claimed to have overheard this comment: “Did you hear, I’ve just been made head of the Forestry Commission.”

In fact, #overheardatlatitude has been a popular Twitter hashtag in previous years. Helped by festivalgoers on their smartphones. Submissions include “Leslie, do you want some brioche?” and “India! That’s Daddy’s Yakult!”

Other sights witnessed by EDP reporters include: two women almost coming to blows because one of them kept blocking the other’s view of the outdoor ballet with her picnic chair.

Instead of sleeping off hangovers in tents, festival goers will have the option of flexing their limbs on one of the campsites at this year’s event at Henham Park, Suffolk.

Now in its ninth year, Latitude has been nicknamed Britain’s most middle-class festival, and organiser Melvyn Benn admitted the latest addition would do nothing to scotch this.

He said: “I wouldn’t be so presumptuous as to to say working class people don’t do yoga but yoga absolutely reinforces our middle-class credentials and I’ve no qualms about that at all.

“It’s something we’ve secretly wanted to add for a while and I think a lot of people will be pleased.”

Mr Benn added that he expected the event, which begins on July 17, to sell out and he did not believe concerns over cost of living had hit Latitude.

“I know some other festivals are struggling but I don’t think it’s affected our sales and it certainly hasn’t dictated our thinking over ticket pricing,” he added.

“I believe that even in difficult economic times people still need some luxuries and as long as the line-up is strong and you are putting on a quality event, people will still want to come.”

The festival will have the theme of “secrets and lies”, inspired by CIA whistle-blower Edward Snowden.

This will involve a series of political debates held across the weekend along with artistic interpretations of the theme, including a ballet performance highlighting how dance would be used to express the secrets of the royal household in mediaeval times.

The headliners are blues/rock duo the Black Keys, Northern Irish indie act Two Door Cinema Club and Blur front-man Damon Albarn performing as a solo artist.

The festival will include 10 arts arenas and stages hosting comedy, theatre, dance, film, cabaret and literature.

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