Cassette x Afrikaburn Festival
As some of you may already know, I recently DJed at and attended Afrikaburn Festival out in the desert / National Park of Tankwa Town, South Africa. I mean let’s face it, my social media feed is currently flooded with Burn pics so if you have somehow managed to avoid exposure then I salute you.
Jokes aside, Afrikaburn was such an amazing experience I wanted to say a few words to sum up what it’s all about, for any of you that are curious or interested in attending.
Afrikaburn is based on the same principles as it’s American counterpart ‘Burning Man’ in the Nevada Desert and a lot of the same artists and organisers are involved. However, Afrikaburn is what’s called a ‘regional burn,’ an official Burning Man event held elsewhere in the world.
Tankwa is about 5hrs drive from Capetown so the location is quite remote. Like the American burn there is no cell or internet reception, which I am beginning to believe is key to a good festival experience.
Believe it or not, Afrikaburn has been running for 12 years and continues to grow in size every year. It’s smaller then the American Burning Man attracting 15 -20K people as opposed to the 70-80K that are now flocking to Nevada every year. Personally this was part of the attraction for me. I was a burn virgin so wanted to start small and “go in easy” as they say.
So am I now a converted ‘burn believer’? As clichéd as it is… I have to say I am. If you’re an open minded creative like myself who loves music, art, adventure, and meeting new people then guess what – it’s right up your alley.
The wide variety of spectacular art and music you witness in 7 days blows your mind. The sound systems and production quality on some of these stages and art cars is insane. Artists work for months and even years on some of these creations for no financial gain, purely for the soul purpose that they can be marvelled at, instilling inspiration and joy in others at this one event in the year. All the wooden structures are burned to smithereens in the final days so can never be sold or used again.
Musically there’s everything from deep, melodic house to techno and psy-trance. I DJed on Wonky Willy Stage which was one of the bigger stages and also run by the renowned Wonky Willy camp I was staying in. It had impressive sound and visuals, and also featured Oliver Koletski, Niko Schwind and Eric Volta on it’s lineup. A Live recording of my set is featured above.
In total there were 6 stages + several art cars or moving stages and even though most stages close at certain hours of the day there is always music playing from somewhere 24/7. The Spirit Train was one of my favourite mobile stages visually and musically. Fire and lazers shoot out of it and people can dance on the actual train carts. If you’re lucky it will start moving while you are dancing on it as it is an actual train that moves and parks in a new location everyday. To be honest most of my favourite musical moments were experienced at pop-up art car parties in the middle of the playa, never to be found or repeated again.
Sure it’s a harsh environment and you definitely go through some tough times and moments. Lack of sleep, dehydration, dust storms, hunger, disorientation and anxiety are all experienced at some stage during the week. Personally I found those moments led me to some of my best experiences and new friendships.
Raised and residing in Sydney, it’s very rare I will be out of my comfort zone or in a situation where I don’t know anyone here. Especially being a DJ, most of my time is spent at gigs, where there is always an army of familiar faces around.
At the burn I only knew a handful of people so was forced to step out of my comfort zone and make new connections. It’s very comforting to know there are like-minded strangers happy to reach out and take you under their wing, restoring your faith in others as well as your own ability to connect. Its fascinating hearing the different stories behind each person you meet. The guy dressed as a Japanese geisha on a lit tricycle could be a film director or the CEO of a multi million dollar company.
There is a strong sense of community at the burn. Something about the fact that you are all in a remote area trying to survive tough conditions and climate, for the love of similar interests…seems to really bond you together.
It’s hard to sum up the ‘spirit of the burn’ in 1 paragraph so I think the best way is by sharing a memory with you:
One morning I watched sunrise from the top of an amazing large structure called The Tree of Life (pic above). A guy climbs up to me carrying a large wooden object. “What is it”? I asked apprehensively. “Look” he encouraged. When I looked down the eyehole it was like looking through a kaleidoscope into some beautiful parallel universe. He had whittled out the inside of this large piece of wood, created a magical terrarium inside then sealed it up. I imagine it would have taken quite some time to create.
As I looked up at him he said innocently “I made this so that people can see”. I didn’t know what else to say except “thankyou…. I love it”. He beamed back at me, smiling ear to ear then went on his merry way to show someone else. The fact that I appreciated the art he had created for that moment in time was enough to make us both very happy. And I guess that is the spirit of the burn.
Ahhh Afrikaburn, what a wild ride. It’s not for the faint hearted but worth every moment.
A wedding taking place in front of The Temple, The Tree Of Life is back left
Wonky Willy Stage
Sunset with some of my favourite burners 🙂