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Curated Craziness: the World of Rob da Bank


It's the Easter holidays and Rob da Bank is at home looking after his 3 boys whilst simultaneously running 2 major festivals and a record label, not to mention working as a DJ for Radio 1.

He insists this is nothing out of the ordinary.

"I'm no more hectic than the average mum or dad. People think I must have a very rock n roll lifestyle but actually a lot of the time I'm a stay at home Dad. I'd rather be with the kids."

It was having their first son Arlo nearly 7 years ago that prompted Rob and Josie da Bank to set up Camp Bestival in Lulworth Castle, a spin off of the madder, badder Bestival on the Isle of Wight which is now in its 10th year.

They spotted a gap in the market, for although there were many festivals with great kids' arenas - Glastonbury and Beautiful Days spring to mind - there was nothing dedicated solely to families. At Camp Bestival you'll find Mums and Dads rocking out to heritage acts like Kid Creole and the Coconuts or Adam and the Ants while their babes snooze beside them in trailers. The vibe is 'we're in this together,'  parents, maybe, but still looking to have some old school fun. There is a huge field dedicated to childrens' activities, year after year you'll find Mr Tumble on an exclusive, live jousting in front of the castle, even miniature compost loos. Everything has been thought of so that parents can relax.

Rob says the challenge is trying to keep everyone happy.

"It's difficult trying to tick all boxes -  the breastfeeding mum has got to have somewhere to feed her baby, the 16 year olds want to have a  few drinks and listen to dub step and the grandparents like a bit of  jazz. That means a pretty eclectic line up but that's what I love.'

At Camp Bestival Rob and Josie sleep in a camper van with their kids with 2 sets of grandparents on hand and a load of mates.

'So there's a bit of gang,' he says.

He and Josie met in the student union bar 20 years ago and have been working together pretty much ever since, first doing Sunday Best nights in the Tearoom des Artistes in Battersea. Josie is an illustrator and has always taken charge of the creative side, from designing flyers back in the day to curating the colourful madness of Bestival.

Bestival is undoubtedly still their baby, an event which grew quickly from 3000 to 50,000 and spawned a whole lot of copycat festivals and a nationwide trend for dressing up.

"The biggest thing that caught on is fancy dress which we started and I like that. It was just a little idea we came up with to make ourselves stand out and I think it makes British festivals strong and unique looking."

With both Bestival and Camp Bestival you feel like you're entering another world, one of carefully curated craziness where anything might happen and this is exactly what Rob and Josie intended.

"The important thing for us was to offer a bit of escapism. There are no pavements, no streets, no shops - you're in a completely different environment so people can forget their worries and turn into someone else for the weekend."

This year Bestival has scored the ultimate Sunday night headliner with Elton John who has never before played a UK festival.

Rob says: "He's an iconic songwriter and a legend and there aren't that many of them around. He's really switched onto new music as well so that was interesting to us. And actually it's been pretty straightforward, no diva-ish antics - though his wardrobe is going to take up a whole marquee so that bodes well for lots of costume changes..."

Glastonbury will always be the favourite da Bank festival, they first went together 20 years ago, celebrate their birthdays on site each year and got engaged there in 2000.

"Glastonbury never lets me down, it's my favourite. If I had to choose between Bestival and Glastonbury then I'd say Glastonbury because I'm not working so I get to enjoy it."

For now, though, the kids only come to Camp Bestival which was designed with them in mind.

Rob says: "People think we must have uber trendy kids but they're not, they like nursery rhymes and One Direction, it's really quite embarrrassing."

Camp Bestival runs from 1-4 August

Bestival runs from 5-8 September

 

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