Behind the scenes at NYC Downlow

Photography by Kamil Kustosz

Stella Meltdown, Cassandra, Hairy Rose, and Mahatma Candy spill the tea on Glastonbury’s most debauched corner.

If you haven’t been to NYC Downlow, you’ll sure as hell have heard of it. Infamous for its riotous reputation – and the lawless activity it wholeheartedly encourages – it’s no secret that it’s the most anticipated part of Glastonbury and has been ever since its arrival on the site over 12 years ago.

Located within Block9 (a maze of indoor and outdoor music stations thought up by Gideon Berger and Stephen Gallagher), NYC Downlow is Glastonbury’s original LGBTQ+ club, characterised by its anything goes” attitude, OTT performers, and pumping line-up of house and techno DJs who play from sunset to well past sunrise.

Nestled inside a set that mirrors the architecture of New York’s Meatpacking district in the early 80s, the bathhouse-cum-meatpacking warehouse counts go-go dancers, drag queens and scantily clad butchers as its residents, alongside anyone else who dares head into its dark, debauched, depths. Performers Stella Meltdown, Cassandra, Hairy Rose, and Mahatma Candy spill the tea…

Hairy Rose’s advice? Be ” extra, extra, extra!”


How long have you been involved with NYC Downlow?

This is my fifth one. On my first, I was actually working on the bar next door so I spent my nights off in Downlow. Back then some of the original core crew were here turning it out and causing utter mayhem.

How do you go about preserving what you saw back then?

It’s just about being absolutely extra, extra, extra. You’re here to just completely blow their minds. They do not know what to expect and you just conveyor belt bollocks into their faces. It’s almost like poetry because you just have to motor it out and not even consider what you’re saying, just bring joy and energy. There is a lot of passion in what we do in the front of house section.

What’s the most outrageous thing you’ve ever seen here?

My best memory is, of course, the legend that is Jackie Potato hanging from the rafters of Maceos in a jock strap above the fully crowded bar.

What’s the soundtrack to your Glasto?

Hollywood Seven it’s a fabulous disco track I love hearing when I’m here.

What’s going to go down tonight?

Carnage, chaos and glitter.

Stella Meltdown: Paris Hilton’s biggest fan


How long have you been involved with NYC Downlow?

I’ve never done it before, this is my first year. I’ve hit hysteria now – peak hysteria.

So how are you finding it?

I love it. It’s insane. Glastonbury is worlds away from the world. The people here are mad, insane – it’s just insanity. Downlow is incredible, the DJs are wicked, the vibe is amazing, it’s such a nice group this year.

What’s stood out?

The heat has made it pretty fucking intense. It’s definitely added to the insanity of it. I was expecting to get more kip but I’ve just not fucking managed. I would say that has been the shocker. You just don’t expect to go to a festival in England and not have to bring wellies.

What song should be playing every time you enter the club?

Anything by Paris Hilton. High Off Your Love. That’s the one.

What’s your most dangerous trait?

Drinking too much. Partying too hard.

What’s in store for tonight?

We’re doing the biggest drag performance tonight in the smallest go-go outfits. Skimpy outfits, big hair, big eyelashes – just totally mad drag. And of course lots of sexy boys, probably with their dicks out. Actually, one of the biggest eye openers for me was being in here and seeing someone get sucked off in the corner quite openly. I was like, Oh, this is what Glastonbury is”.

Why is this such an important space for you?

It brings together all kinds of people. It’s very queer but it’s also such an open space. Anyone can come in, anyone can have a good time. There’s no pretentiousness or ego, just a party. And it’s one of the best parties I’ve ever been to, so I’m happy to be a part of it.

Who’s been the best person you’ve seen?

Jon Hopkins, it was fucking spiritual.

Cassandra is all for debauchery, glamour, pleasure, and razzmatazz


How did you first become involved with NYC Downlow?

It was following an open mic performance at The Glory. The night was called Sing for your Supper. I sang a little song and won some noodles.

What did you sing?

One of my own songs. I think it was called Fast Pussycat, Kill Kill. That’s how I got to know everybody in the scene.

How are you finding your first Glastonbury experience?

Oh my god. It’s psychedelic – lots of colours, hippies.

What song should be playing when you enter the club?

Touch Me by Samantha Fox. Or Boys, Boys, Boys by Sabrina, because it’s political.

What’s your most dangerous trait?

My diplomacy. When dealing with riff-raff, I’m very like Marilyn Monroe in the way she’s kind of a bimbo but she knows what’s going on. She’s one step ahead.

What’s the most outrageous thing you’ve seen so far?

At the nudist camp today there was a man with piercings through his balls. There was a fat ring hanging just below them.

What’s on the agenda for tonight?

From me? Debauchery, glamour, pleasure, sensuality and razzmatazz.

Mahatma Candy, future land lady of the Meat Locker


What made you get involved with NYC Downlow?

This is the first time I’ve been involved but I’d heard stories about it before and I’d always been like What the fuck is that?”. It sounded really sexual and I was so down.

How are you finding your first Glastonbury experience?

It’s a madhouse. But it’s really interesting. It’s a fucking city. It’s basically our version of the Vatican. I just love looking at the installations.

What song should be playing when you enter the club?

Waiting For Tonight by Jennifer Lopez, the remix!

What’s been the most outrageous thing you’ve seen the past few nights?

Besides having sex in the dark room myself? That was great.

What would you rate it out of 10?

I’d give it a 7/​10. The guy said he had never done this before but he sucked by dick and I was like Urm, you’ve so done this before”. I’ve seen loads of people getting blow jobs – everywhere. And a woman naked having a dance around in the fields.

How does the atmosphere down here compare to London?

It’s non-stop – not that London isn’t a non-stop city, but this is actually non-stop. So it just feels like there’s never room to breathe. You can’t sleep because there’s too much to do. They should really make sure there’s a swimming pool next year. I also think that NYC Downlow should have a leather bar called the Meat Locker and that I should run it.

What’s going to go down tonight?

There’s going to be a lot of sweat – so much sweat. It will be salty, I’m not going to say what the saltiness is going to be, it could be sweat, it could be cum, it could be the people. Expect big looks, expect small looks. Amazing music and just a non-stop party.

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