From Lisa Han­ni­gan to Lee “Scratch” Perry – the high­lights of Body & Soul,

Body & Soul grew from a seed planted in the minds of two friends to be­come first an add-on to know­ing fes­ti­vals such as The Big Chill and Elec­tric Pic­nic and then a unique stand-alone fes­ti­val in Co West­meath. Its co-founder tells Tony Clayton-Lea how it

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Front Page -

E GOT THE idea in San Fran­cisco about 15 years ago,” says Avril Stan­ley, fes­ti­val di­rec­tor of Body & Soul. “A friend and I had just come back from Burn­ing Man, and it blew our minds wide open and, in the desert, my friend and I shook hands, and said this was what we’d do for the rest of our lives. It was a naive, open-minded, but com­mit­ted plan. We started do­ing par­ties in woods and de­serted ware­houses. It wasn’t about build­ing an em­pire; it was purely a pas­sion we had.

“I ended up in Eng­land, where I trained as a shi­atsu prac­ti­tioner and a con­tem­pla­tive psy­chother­a­pist, which is a Bud­dhist form of psy­chother­apy. But I also went to fes­ti­vals, and dur­ing one – The Big Chill – I de­tected a gap in what they were do­ing, and I of­fered to run an area within it called Body & Soul. So we started do­ing a heal­ing area there, and it went from a small space to quite a sub­stan­tial area. Af­ter a while we wanted stages and big­ger bud­gets. We wanted to ex­pand on the idea of what Body & Soul was all about.

“Ul­ti­mately, though, we wanted to get away from the idea that Body & Soul was just a heal­ing area for holis­tic arts, well-be­ing and chilled-out mu­sic. It was at this point – about eight years ago – that Elec­tric Pic­nic asked us to run Body & Soul within the fes­ti­val.

“What are we about? Dar­ing to be dif­fer­ent, but not so dif­fer­ent that it marginalises any­one. The holis­tic side of the event? Well, it isn’t like you have to find your in­ner child or heal your deep trau­matic wounds. The door­way to that is left ajar, and if you want to walk through it you can. If you just want a deep-tis­sue mas­sage that gets you ready for a night of dancing that’s there too.

“There is noth­ing holier-than-thou, noth­ing dog­matic, noth­ing re­li­gious at all. There’s a place in Body & Soul where if you want a mo­ment away from ev­ery­thing and ev­ery­one you can do that. If you think that’s a load of la-la, then ig­nore it and en­joy all the other stuff that’s on of­fer.”

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