We tracked down the Nightwish dancer from that video at Download festival

Saturday Nightwish Fever
Saturday Nightwish Fever

If you stuck it out to the third round of Download 2016, you can attest to the fact that by day three the weather conditions were excruciatingly bad. It could have been the worst year for weather in Download’s 13-year history.

As if the third (or fifth, for the hardcore festival-goers) day isn’t notoriously gruelling enough; with the hangovers, bangovers and whatever else-overs really starting to take their toll, if you add a biblical river of mud the likes of which should be reserved for chapters in the Old Testament, and you start to get the picture.

But there was one man who refused to be beaten.

His name is Aaron Woods, and he can lay claim to not only being the UK’s biggest Nightwish fan, but also the funkiest dancer Download festival has ever seen. This man truly has talent. Fuck Diversity, Spelbound and all those other fancy leg shakers; Aaron Woods is our guy.

Aged 29 and hailing from Lancaster, Aaron is an illustrator and graphic designer, and he’s been into heavy metal since he was 14 years old.

“When I was younger the bands I was into were Pantera, Machine Head and Fear Factory,” he explains. “I’ve loved Nightwish since I was about 17. I first saw them at Download in 2005, which was my first ever Download, and I remember it was the year that Feeder headlined. I think Black Sabbath were there that year, too.”

It’s crazy to think that Feeder headlined Download once upon a time, but what’s even more bonkers is since the Nightwish Fanpage posted a video of Woods raving in the mud, the video has had 575,000 views and counting.

“I didn’t expect it to turn into this.” Woods says, still in disbelief. “A lot of people have been speculating that I was on some kind of mind altering substances, but I can completely reject those claims. I’d only had a couple of beers. That’s just the sort of thing I do in a lot of different places. And when I realised that people were focusing the cameras on me rather than the band, I started making a bit more out of it and I carried on a bit longer than I normally would.”

Aaron Woods at Download festival. His friend Katie Bielby (in the sunglasses) also features in the video

Aaron Woods at Download festival. His friend Katie Bielby (in the sunglasses) also features in the video

You can tell from the range of moves he busts out during the video – there’s everything from Carlton Banks to Thriller-era Michael Jackson in the mix – that Woods has a streak of the flamboyant in him, but he insists he’s had no formal training.

“I did drama at A Level, but that’s about it.”

Well if he wasn’t on drugs and he ain’t no dancer, just where did that outstanding routine come from?

“I have no idea. It just came from a love of Nightwish – somewhere deep inside me. Ha ha!”

Of course the big question is, how does one stay so chipper on day three of such a sodden weekend?

“Well, my mates and I were stood in our tent for ages and we were really reluctant to go back out after it had rained all day Friday and Saturday, and we were deliberating whether we should go home or not, but we decided it was just one more day and we couldn’t go home. I was adamant about seeing Nightwish and Iron Maiden, so we just powered on through.

“As far as my dance routine goes I just thought, ‘Fuck it! Everyone seems a bit miserable, so I’ll just go ahead and do something to try and cheer them up. I maybe shouldn’t have put mud in my mouth, though. That was a bit of a concern afterwards ha ha!”

As festival-goers, we should all take a leaf out of Aaron Woods’ happy-go-lucky book on life. And it pays to be the good guy, as the overwhelming response to his video has shown.

“I’ve had so many random people trying to message me on Facebook,” says Woods. “I keep getting requests to accept messages from people in places like Brazil and Peru, just to tell me that I’ve made it in some magazine over there. Somebody even told me I was on the news in Peru. All my friends keep telling me I need to milk it for all it’s worth, but I don’t really know how to milk it for all it’s worth. Maybe I could ask for a free Download ticket for next year…”

What do you reckon, Andy Copping? Can you hook Aaron up?

Download 2016: the TeamRock archive

Matt Stocks

DJ, presenter, writer, photographer and podcaster Matt Stocks was a presenter on Kerrang! Radio before a year’s stint on the breakfast show at Team Rock Radio, where he also hosted a punk show and a talk show called Soundtrack Apocalypse. He then moved over to television, presenting on the Sony-owned UK channel Scuzz TV for three years, whilst writing regular features and reviews for Metal Hammer and Classic Rock magazine. He also wrote, produced and directed a feature-length documentary on Australian hard rock band Airbourne called It’s All For Rock ‘N’ Roll, and in 2017 launched his own podcast: Life in the Stocks. His first book, also called Life In The Stocks, was published in 2020. A second volume was published in April 2022.