Radio 1’s Sarah Story’s guide to dance music at Glastonbury and who to watch this year

BBC Radio 1 Future Dance presenter Sarah Story has spoken to Headliner about the heritage of dance music at Glastonbury, her ones to watch this year, and how she will be bringing the festival to fans around the world.

Taking place from June 23-25, Glastonbury 2023 will see Arctic Monkeys, Guns N’ Roses, and Elton John headline the Pyramid Stage in what is set to be the biggest Glastonbury on record. And while headlines will largely be dominated by the megastars gracing the line-up, as anyone who has every ventured beyond the orbit of its biggest stages will know, there are entire festivals within the festival devoted to just about any style or subgenre one can conceive of. Arguably the biggest of these is the dance music offering at Worthy Farm.

Despite dance having a long and storied history at Glastonbury, it is still regarded by those who aren’t regular visitors to the Block 9s and Maceos of the festival as something of a niche element. But according to Story, not only is the dance music component at Glastonbury one of its biggest and best assets, it’s also and area that is growing more and more exciting with each passing year.

Here, Story joins Headliner for a chat about how she’ll be broadcasting and performing at Glastonbury 2023, the power of dance music at Worthy Farm, and who she can’t wait to see this year…

What will you be doing at Glastonbury this year?

Well, I’m playing so you have to prep for that, but you have to think about the outfits as well, don’t you. So I’m going to be spending a lot of time just working out what to take with me! On Friday night I have my Future Dance show and this year I have the honour of doing it live from Glastonbury, which I’m really excited about. It’s my first time doing it from Glastonbury and I’m so excited because I get to bring that energy and excitement from the festival to the radio so everyone in the world who isn’t there can hear.

Pretty much everyone in the music industry is at Glastonbury that weekend so we have the luxury of having all these DJs at our fingertips, so I’m hoping to get some really fun, exciting guests passing through. I’m doing my show at 8pm-10pm on Friday and then I have four DJ sets across the weekend, which I’m really looking forward to. On the Thursday afternoon I’m doing Eats Everything’s History of Rave Stage, which was crazy last year. There was about 20,000 people there. Then Thursday evening Radio 1 is taking over the BBC Introducing Stage - I can’t say too much about the line-up just yet but I’m doing my Back to Back with a French DJ called Chloé Caillet who is someone I’m really excited about. She’s just a really good DJ. Then Friday is the radio show and I’m doing a Garage set at the Unfairground on the Blind Tiger stage at 2am, so at that point everyone will be fully in Glastonbury mode. And then Sunday night I’m doing the Glade Stage, but I’m clashing with Elton John, so I’m hoping not everyone there will be Elton John fan!

If you’re curious about dance music and want to discover a bit more it’s everywhere at Glastonbury. Sarah Story

How do you prepare for broadcasting live and performing at Glastonbury?

A lot of it is down to the producers. They are the people doing the DJ bookings, making sure we’re getting the guests, so they will be doing that for months before the festival. For my show its about really focusing on who is playing at Glastonbury from the dance world and making sure we’re playing a lot of those acts and getting some of them in on the show. For me as a broadcaster I have the luxury of just being involved in picking the music, rocking up and bringing my energy. What’s really important is to get there early and soak up Glastonbury, try to get to as many places as I can so that when I’m on air on the Friday I can be painting a picture of what I’ve seen, whether it’s funny things or nice things. It’s really important to be across everything that’s happening. The BBC dance family is so excited to be there.

Tell us about the dance heritage of Glastonbury. Does this sometimes get lost amongst the coverage of the bigger stages and the headliners?

I mainly go for the dance music, so I’ll pass through, maybe watch a couple of acts on the Pyramid Stage, but you have Silver Hayes for instance, and I played there last year and the calibre of DJs there was so vast. That area is a massive hub of stages and is huge for dance music. You also have Shangri-La, Block 9, then my favourite club is NYC Downlow. It’s a gay club and you have to get in by wearing a moustache. There is always a massive queue but if you have a moustache you get in faster. I’ve seen so many amazing DJs there.

But that whole area is just where you go every night. The Arcadia has some incredible people on this year. But if you’re curious about dance music and you want to discover a bit more it’s everywhere at Glastonbury and you’ll probably miss all the bands because you’ll get sucked in to the dance world madness. There is also a club next to NYC Downlow called Maceos, and it’s just so good. The music is always really vibey, not really bangers, but you get some amazing characters in there.

Tell us about your first ever Glastonbury experience

My first ever Glastonbury was 2016 and I remember it well because it was Brexit. We found out on the Friday morning and there was this weird energy on the Friday at Glastonbury, everyone was just walking around like lost puppies. But then there was a sense of, ‘right, we’re at Glastonbury, we’ve just got to crack on’, and then it was chaos. I just remember feeling pretty overwhelmed by the whole experience. You can never really imagine how huge it is. It was a really lovely experience and I met so many lovely random people at Block 9 and sitting on the hill watching acts.

What have been some of your favourite Glastonbury moments to date?

I think Stormzy on the Pyramid Stage was iconic. It was so good. Also, Dave was amazing. He got that guy out of the crowd and it just felt so special, you could see how excited he was. That was really lovely. I thought Confidence Man were really good last year, they’re really infectious when they perform. That was a big highlight. I think Dave is the performance that really stands out for me though.

What are you excited about this year?

I’m looking forward to going to the Healing Fields because everyone always talks about it but I’ve never made it there. So, I’m going to go there on Wednesday and get a bit of calm before the storm. And in terms of acts I’m looking forward to, Palms Trax, Interplanetary Criminal, Gabriels, and Fred Again.. I knew he was great but I saw him for the first time last year and he was unbelievable. And I’m looking forward to doing my live shows.

Story will be broadcasting from Glastonbury as part of the BBC coverage of the festival (Wednesday 21 – Sunday 25 June) on BBC TV, radio, BBC iPlayer and BBC Sounds.

Listen to the full interview with Sarah Story on Headliner Radio, here: