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From D WILSWORTH Ryde, l.O.W Aug. 31
The program ran late because there were simply too many people with special passes to the so called press enclosure. The organizers tried to clear the area without much success`. Eventually the press were sitting on each other's laps. The main audience was no less crushed and there were several calls for doctors and stretcher bearers. Dylan's performance was the climax of the three day festival of pop music. But the concert ended shortly after midnight after Dylan bad been on the stage for just one hour. After repeated cheering and whistling from the audience he returned to perform for another 10 minutes ,then finally left.
Jeering and booing broke out from some sections of the audience, and the compere. Mr. Ricki Farr, placated them by saying: " Bob Dylan came here to do what he had to do and he's done it, and I'm afraid that's the end" : In all, Dylan and his musical group, called The Band, had been on stage for less than two hours. Mr. Dylan is reported to have been paid about £35,000 for this performance. Mr Farr. Who is also producer of the pop music festival and a man not given to understatement, earlier told his massive audience at Woodside Bay, near Ryde: "You are the blessed generation. You are the body beautiful. Thank you: keep it that way." The blessed generation , sprawling on the grass. cuddling on groundsheets or contemplating a stewpot on the camp site took this tribute to their peaceful behaviour as their just due. They had no intention of disturbing the peace, at least not in the criminal sense, as opposed to the musical.
(Above left )A fan dances ,perhaps to the melodic strains of the Edgar Broughton Band ( above right )
Even the police have been complimentary about their behaviour. The 150 men of the Isle of Wight police force who had all their weekend leave cancelled because of the pop music festival might have been excusably apprehensive about the army of the young who moved in at the weekend. But Superintendent Arthur Maynard said this morning:" Everything bas been very good tempered. The kids have. been well-behaved and there has been no trouble of a serious nature ".
Indeed, the peaceful atmosphere was plainly due to the police tactics of avoiding force whenever possible. In any case , the festival had its own elaborate security arrangements including a group of uniformed men with Alsatian dogs who struck a note of incongruity among the generally amiable crowd. One of their jobs was to prevent people from climbing the eight-foot wooden fence around the arena , in this they were only partly successful. It was a security man who stepped in and stopped a girl who stripped and danced before the crowd yesterday evening. If he had not stopped her nobody else would have bothered. The audience was almost totally unmoved. As a young girl explained to me ". It was very beautiful. She just had to do her own thing and so she did it" Isadora Duncan could not have wished for a more sympathetic audience.
This nomadic band of pop followers put up with extraordinary discomfort for the sake of their music. Thousands of tents are pitched on sloping ground ,ploughed perhaps last year and very rough as a result .The only washing facilities are some cold water taps specially installed. The makeshift village supplies food: 2s. 6d. for a tiny plate of curry and rice, 2s. 6d for a not very good hamburger. A queue stretches for 30yds outside the fish and chip shop because fish and chips are the best meal available, apart from the macrobiotic health foods which are in huge demand. Many do their own cooking. For a supposedly ''indisciplined generation they are remarkably orderly about queuing. They queue to get into the pub in the village near by, for the cold water taps and to go to the lavatories , the only place apparently where segregation by sex is observed.
In the dormitory tents you stake your claim to a piece of floor simply by rolling out your sleeping bag and leaving it there. Nobody disturbs your claim. As the evening gets colder the compere jokes that two in a sleeping bag are probably warmer than one. This raises scarcely a murmur of laughter. Everybody knows that.
The concert arena is roughly circular, about 200 yards in diameter. The organizers. Fiery Creations, provided what they described as an extensive program of "mulli-media activities" : In addition to the music they included film shows, poetry readings, and a tent where anybody could perform or as they put it, "do their own thing". One of the more bizarre entertainment's planned was described in the official booklet: .
" Anthony Scott's "Swizprix" are huge phallic plastic balloons that slowly inflate over the festival period until on the Saturday night, coinciding' with the performance of The Who, they reach 100ft high into the air and then ejaculate foam and tinsel into the spotlit air. The climax is reached when they explode gently into flames and the low hydrogen content burns in an orgy of self destruction."
As it happens , this amazing event never took place. One of the organizers. a trifle enigmatically, said it would have been too dangerous. This was about the closest the festival came to the orgy for which Fleet Street and much of the world's press have been keeping a watchful eye, The organizers said they had no control over the private morals of the pop fans. One young couple embraced in a mass of soap foam as part of "a happening" before hundreds of onlookers. Later the girl ,who said she came from "nowhere" remarked: "It was beautiful `" .
Pop festival blast-off
The Observer, 31 August 1969
As crowds gather in their thousands for the Isle of Wight Festival, the great arena set up on a hill at Woodside Bay is crammed almost to capacity. More are still arriving to hear Bob Dylan sing tomorrow. It seems doubtful whether everyone will fit into the vast enclosure built to hold 150,000. Fans sat on their sleeping-bags all day so as not to lose their places in the tents. Others slept in the open. At night the encampment that slopes down from the arena glitters with thousands of fires. People curl up to sleep by them, some playing quietly on guitars and harmonicas. A sharp wind blows round the site. Thousands of fans cheered as a naked girl danced today in front of the stage, wearing only a red bandanna and with red paint on her arms and nose. The cheers grew louder as the girl, who was very attractive, bounded into the press enclosure and turned cartwheels and somersaults. She was circled by photographers as she danced for ten minutes, writhing on the ground at times, while the Edgar Broughton Band played. The dance was stopped by a security guard. As she was taken away she said: 'Why can't they let me be what I am? I just wanted to be free.'
The Environmental Playground today has been a tremendous success, with jousting between beautifully painted, bizarre-shaped cars. The other spectacle has been the slow inflation of enormous plastic phallic-shaped balloons called Swizprix: when the Who play, the balloons are expected to ejaculate foam and tinsel into the air, burst into flames, and burn themselves out. A huge area of soapsud foam was blown out of a machine. As it undulated in the wind people hurled themselves into it, rolling around, looking like strange snowmen.
You can view many great photos of the acts at IOW 69 here at Robert Ellis's photo site
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