Following the release of Raine Allen-Miller’s brilliant movie Rye Lane, earlier this year and the opening of Bradley Zero’s listening bar Jumbi in 2022, the wider world is catching on to something we’ve known for a very long time: Peckham is one of the coolest places on the planet. Once the butt of Only Fools and Horses jokes, it’s in fact one of London and the UK’s greatest cultural hubs.
GALA was launched in nearby Brockwell Park as a one-dayer back in 2016, but the festival now takes place in Peckham Rye Park and has expanded to a fully fledged three-day-knees-up. While some London-day festivals, hosted by big international promoters, can feel disconnected from the areas they take place in, GALA has Peckham, South London and community very much at its heart. Peckham scene stalwart Bradley Zero has been a regular at the festival for years. Zero’s Rhythm Section label took over the main stage on the Friday this year – feat. NiNE8 collective who took over THE FACE’s Instagram account to mark the occasion – with him then closing The Patio on Sunday by joyously dropping Rage Against The Machine’s Renegades of Funk.
The layout and stage build at GALA is second-to-none too, with The Patio (where we enjoyed sets from Kornél Kovács, Yu Su and Call Super across the weekend) fast becoming one of our favourite festival dance arenas and the new 1908 area building a serious fervour throughout the weekend with sets from the likes of Antal, Hunee and Move D.
But while the line-up is stacked with some of the most enticing names in dance music right now, GALA is ultimately about the party. Some of the most fun was to be had at smaller tents like Charlie Bones and Do!! You!! Radio’s three-day takeover, where you could catch the cult radio host drop crowd-pleasers like Prince’s Controversy and Suzane Vega’s Tom’s Diner, or over at the small but perfectly formed Cornerstone tent.
We’ve always got time for main stage thrills, too, though, and it doesn’t get much better than Kerri Chandler closing out the festival with a set that fully reminds you of the unbridled jubilant joy of house music. We’ll let the photos do the rest of the talking. Until next year, GALA.