In 2022, VICE journalist Tom Usher tried to sneak into the VIP section at Glastonbury on a righteous mission to rub shoulders with the good and the great (and Wayne Lineker). By his own admission, “he achieved nothing”. Not even a glimpse of Charli XCX’s winnebago, or Paul McCartney’s makeup artist arm-in-arm with someone who used to be in Made in Chelsea (for context, Glastonbury’s main VIP area is essentially a collection of mobile homes huddled around a bar, plus a flushing toilet with actual toilet roll.)
That’s why, at this year’s festival, I decided to take on the mantle and try to break into the VIP area myself. But I’m doing it bigger and better this time: two other VIP sections, three different strategies, one very important goal: to blag my way to the top.
Method one: Impersonate an influencer
The word “influencer” makes most people want to spit. But then again, most people spend their entire festival sleeping in what is essentially a giant bin bag, cooked in the sun. What I’m getting at here is that influencers have a better quality of festival life. They get preferential treatment – cold sushi lunches, actual blankets that aren’t covered in ketamine crumbs and crisps. Of course they do. They’re very important people. Now, I may only have a couple of thousand followers on Instagram, which puts me in the little league of internet celebrity. But Australian influencer and supermodel Jordan Barrett has more than three million. And if you squint, really hard, I do look a little bit like a cave painting of Jordan. You see where I’m going with this? Jordan is the face of Balmain, Versace and Moschino – I once appeared in an advert for Sports Direct. It’s a bulletproof blag. So I put on some chunky sunglasses and a designer vest, and saunter up to the winnebago area, with Jordan’s Instagram page open on the phone in my outstretched palm.
Needless to say, the 60-year-old bouncer with a bad sunburn doesn’t care how many followers Jorda– I have. I still don’t have the right wristband so I’m not getting inside. At least he doesn’t question my credentials as GQ Australia’s “Man of the Year 2015.” I take the moral victory and return to the campsite with my head held high. Back to the drawing board.
Method two: Deliveroo rider
Glastonbury’s punters have got over 400 food options to choose from. Unfortunately, most of them require that you stand in line. And there’s nothing big or famous about that. For an authentic VIP experience, why not hire an underpaid gig worker to bring a cold Big Mac to the doorstep of your luxury yurt? You see where I’m going with this? Full credit to VICE photographer Yushy for having the big brain idea to buy a boxfresh Deliveroo uniform on Facebook Marketplace. A man after my own heart. The plan is this: I bowl up to the backstage entrance to the Other Stage with a McDonalds delivery for Central Cee. Once inside, I’ll ditch my uniform in the solid gold portaloos and start hobnobbing with the likes of Jeremy Deller, Cara Delevigne and the cast of The Traitors. It’s a devastatingly simple plan that will cement my place in the pantheon of great schemers, right next to Wile E. Coyote and Ronie Biggs. Showtime. I stride up to the backstage entrance of the stage with a giant thermal insulation bag on my back. The bouncer looks at me with a mix of bemusement and fear – can you really order Deliveroo to a field in Somerset? How did I get through the festival gates? Why am I wearing a windbreaker in the 30 degree heat?
I show him the empty McDonalds bag that I bought from Paddington Station three days ago. For a second he looks like he might let me inside, but then he radios for back up, and a team of redshirted goons spawn out of nowhere. At this point I shit the bed and mumble something about a mixup on the app. Maybe I’m not cut out for this internet prankster stuff. Oh well. Only one way to find out for sure.
Method three: Catering staff
Let it be known that I’m not the first hack to blag my way into places where I don’t belong. YouTuber Max Fosh has made his name doing it. And back in 2019, VICE journalist Simon Doherty successfully snuck into three different festivals and wrote about the experience. For my last attempt, I wanted to throw it back to Simon and recreate the “catering staff” look that got him into a day festival in Finsbury Park. Can the same fit get me into the backstage area of the Pyramid Stage, which has been graced by everyone from Stormzy to David Bowie? My take on the uniform consists of a £7.99 apron from Amazon, a pair of high waisted black trousers from the back of my wardrobe, and an old tea towel. I put on the disguise and walk up to the beefy bouncer outside the security gate. I explain I’m on the catering team. The catering team for who? He asks. Lana Del Rey, I say. I’m one of her personal chefs. The bloke nods like this is the most obvious answer in the world and leads me to a backstage portacabin. Fuck me. I’m here. I’ve made it. I can almost taste the free champagne.
Unfortunately, the one thing that stands between me and the Pyramid Stage dressing rooms is the catering kitchen itself. I try to blend in with my fellow chefs, but they’re wearing blue and white aprons that look like they cost way more than £7.99. And they actually know how to fry an egg. A woman comes up to me and introduces herself as the Head of Catering. Shit. I’m in too deep. What happens when a blag goes too well? Relax. You’re Balloon Boy. You’re Anna Delvey. You’ve got this. I try my Lana Del Ray routine on her. She frowns at me. Lana isn’t even on the Pyramid Stage. She’s playing on the other end of the Glastonbury site later tonight. Fuck. 30 seconds later, having produced no official credentials other than a ratty tea towel, I’m led out of the backstage area by a man who looks like he could kill me with his thumb. So, I’ve spent all day trying to break into VIP areas with high stakes schemes that would make Danny Ocean blush – and what have I got to show for it? Fuck all, really... Just like my predecessor, I fell at the last hurdle. But I looked good doing it. Fancy your chances in 2024? @snakedenton / @_yushy