One of my photos

Crawley Mela

July 30th, 2006 · Posted by Skuds in Life/Music · No Comments · Life, Music

This weekend was the Crawley Mela at the Hawth theatre.

I think the crawley Mela is a bit unusual. Traditionally a Mela is an Asian festival, and tends to feature mostly culture from the Indian sub-continent. Our one tends to spread its net a bit wider. The organisers made a point of saying that the Mela this year would include acts and stalls from everywhere.

This was bit confusing, as I can remember an African band last year, as well as an African drum workshop and a calypso singer, and the ubiquitous Irish dancing.

Croydon have a different approach: they have a more traditional Mela on the Sunday and a World Party on the Saturday. That seems to work, but I like the idea of mixing it all up like we do.

Locally the event gets a lot of support from all sorts of organisations. Obviously the borough council plays a large part, BBC Southern Counties always have a large presence and both the local newspapers are there in force. Various other organisations and charities have stalls there, either as a fund-raising activity or to publicise their services.

Jayne and I went along after our interviews, and I have to admit that I thought it was all a little flat compared to previous years. There did not seem to be as many punters there, and there seemed to be less choice in the merchandise in the stalls. I didn’t see the African stalls selling clothes and musical instruments for example, although the range of foods available was as wide as ever – with the notable absence of the Malaysian satay stall from two years ago which I really missed last year.

We were not there all day but even so, in previous years you could not turn a corner without bumping into one of the borough councillors, who used to turn out in force to support the event. This time the only ones I saw were the Mayor and her husband who were there in an official capacity, and the new leader of the council. Its not a major consideration for the general public but I think it shows a level of support for the organisers when most of the councillors turn out.

I am coming to the conclusion that the Hawth is not the best venue for this type of event, either in terms of size or layout. Because it is a fairly small site everything is crammed together closely, with no open spaces to talk of. If you want to lay out a blanket away from the crowds and just chill there is not really anywhere to go, and having the car park within the grounds means that you always have to keep one eye out for cars.

I can see the benefits for the organisers – having the theatre there means that there is no need to bring in portable toilets (and it means that the toilet quality is a lot better than at most festivals). The same applies to the theatre bar – no need for a beer tent. It didn’t apply this year, but the theatre also provides some shelter if the heavens open. But having said that, I think the current venue is a bit claustrophobic for a festival. There is certainly no room to grow.

I just can’t help thinking that it would all be a lot better in Tilgate Park, Southgate Playing fields, Goffs Park or Broadfield Park, although I’m sure we would all miss the parking chaos at the Hawth.


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