Dance music, at its core, is designed to move you beyond words. You can bang on for hours about the beats, the rhythms and melodies but, when you break it down, it's going to mean something totally different from person to person. It might stir up old memories, it might sweep you off your feet or it might make you grab your best friends and revel in it together.

Looking around at the myriad faces that have descended upon Leeds' Tetley Brewery this bank holiday weekend, everyone is having a different, very personal experience; lost in music courtesy of the jam-packed line-up curated in celebration of The Garden Party's tenth birthday.

The Faversham's Garden Party has become a staple of the Leeds clubbing scene. Bringing together some of dance music's best names right to the doorsteps of thousands of university students, and then some, it's always the hottest ticket of the year. It makes sense, then, that for their tenth birthday they wanted to go big. A weekend-long festival was thus the obvious choice.

The Garden Party

Of course, being in the centre of Leeds, a mere 5 minute walk from the main clubbing area of Leeds, meant that no-one needed to swap their night-out gear for wellies. Everyone has come done up to the nines - club warpaint applied meticulously, flower garlands adorning heads like the crowns of May queens (though with much more hedonistic intentions) - as though the DJs and bars had been transposed to the smoking area. It was the perfect place for those who didn't want to get muddy or sleep in a field over at Bramham Park that same weekend.

The Garden Party managed to pack so much into its relatively tiny area, at least by other festival comparisons, with the grand Tetley building standing watch over the revelers. Walk a few steps one way and you spot someone you know. Turn around - there's that guy from work! It's frankly impossible to lose people here because, though the crowds are dense, the compact arena means you'll bump into them eventually.

The Garden Party

It also meant no need to rush between acts, though why you'd want to in the first place is baffling. The place has such a relaxed vibe. Bodies lounge across the colourful hay bales and benches pitched up, artists gradually painting incredibly detailed pictures in amongst the crowds, crowds of people dancing erupting in the middle of the festival. Wandering through, while tucking into my second Rolla Walla chicken tikka wrap of the day and a Yorkshire Parkin ice cream from Northern Bloc (both of which blew my damn mind, they were that delicious), it's easy to understand why The Garden Party has become such an institution.

And so to the Saturday, the sun gracing us with its presence after hiding away behind rain clouds for the past week. Manchester's finest purveyor of great tea and great records Mr Scruff is the ideal man to kick things off. Having been moved to earlier than billed, the crowd is a little sparse; still trickling in and finding their bearings among the colourful bunting and delicious smells. But his eclectic mix of reggae, disco, jazz and house slowly draws a crowd over the course of his three hour set until he has a whole mass of bodies under his spell. Summery vibes began to pour out of the tent as the magic began to spread.

The Garden Party

Looking for an escape from the relentless, hypnotic tracks Chris Lorenzo had in-store, including a version of Cypress Hill's Insane In The Brain with added garage beats, the relaxed soulful sound of Fatima & The Eglo Live Band worked perfectly. With an incredibly tight band and Fatima's gorgeous, honeyed vocals, it was like being whisked away to a private oasis, even with the sounds of other tents bleeding in.

This latter point was a common problem across the whole weekend. Stealing Sheep, over on the Skinny Stage (a stage out in the open, which probably didn't help), declared that their fizzing, addictively psychedelic pop songs were being given a little remix thanks to the bleed from Joy Orbison's set on the Fact stage. Similarly, Dutch Uncles had to compete with thumping bass, though not that it deterred frontman Duncan Wallis from cracking out his trademark dance moves that makes him seem like a Haribo-ified Ian Curtis, as well as a great cover of Seal's Kiss From A Rose to close the set.

The Garden Party

Of course, this sound bleed is the peril of having a festival site where the tents are barely a minutes walk away from each other. Regardless, everyone is in ridiculously high spirits by the time Soul II Soul lay down their lessons of love upon The Garden Party crowd. Rocketing through everything from 'I Care' to 'Back To Life', not a single minute goes by where I didn't have a massive grin on my face. The same goes for the rest of the crowd, rejuvenated by the joyous neo soul that made Soul II Soul such a huge name. Like Chic, they're one of those heritage acts that still has that same magic.

With a whole host of after-parties closing out the Saturday night, it was no surprise to see a few less-than-fresh faces come Sunday. And, thanks to a pretty cloudy day, there was no sun to bring everyone back to life. Luckily, the music was enough to do that. The almost back-to-back of Craig Charles and Julio Bashmore (that bleeding sound again creating an interesting battle for supremacy) both drew large, early crowds, neither tired out from the Saturday and more than ready to get the party started all over again.

The Garden Party

Over on the Skinny Stage, Leeds' resident party-starters Galaxians brought their space disco infused tunes to a relatively modest crowd, trying their best to whip up the party frenzy they're renowned for. It's here where the Skinny Stage makes its problems so apparent. Tucked away from the rest of the festival site almost, though with lush grass and plenty of hay bales to perch on, it feels quite removed from everything else, especially the line-up.

It's clearly The Garden Party's attempt to drawn in more than their usual crowds with the likes of Dutch Uncles, Stealing Sheep and, later on Sunday, Lonelady who played a fantastic set against the backdrop of a gloriously deep red sunset. While I admire that, particularly for bringing some great bands who played some amazing sets, I'm not sure it worked. It never seemed to really click with the crowds, who were more content with lounging on the grass than getting stuck in. It became especially obvious when I witnessed the ever-fantastic HONNE play to a disappointingly sparse crowd that actually made me a bit angry that so many people were missing such a great band.

The Garden Party

To the crowds' credit, there was plenty of other stuff going on, particularly the much-anticipated Todd Terje who, in typical Todd Terje-style, brought a set full of kaleidoscopic, bouncy space disco goodness. Though I was initially disappointed it was just a DJ set, those thoughts were quickly tucked away as his ear for a great tune had me in a trance.

A similar experience occurred when Grandmaster Flash took to the decks. Crowds spilled out of the tent, eager to catch a glimpse of a true legend. Each track had those in and out of the tent in a state of total euphoria as Flash mixed between classic after classic after classic, utilising his entire collection of "Golden Records" in one jam-packed set. I have to tear myself away to catch Little Dragon playing a set full of colourful, playful dance tunes that quickly remind you that being po-faced about music is boring. Just dance! Get swept away in it all and be taken to your own place of bliss.

The Garden Party

If there's one thing The Garden Party got right, it's that. Waves of people transported to their own personal haven, not at all concerned with what anyone else is doing and dancing like nobody's watching. Though there may have been a few problems, particularly with the strange isolation of the Skinny Stage and some sound problems thanks to the compactness of the festival, this was still a great celebration of everything that made The Garden Party such an institution. Happy birthday, Garden Party! Here's to ten more!

The Garden Party
The Garden Party
The Garden Party
The Garden Party