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Balkan Beasts

by Mahala High Five Brigade / 18.11.2009

I’ve never been a fan of Balkanology. Having been to the formative gatherings back in Cape Town circa 2005, it was always a kind of, “yay, novel, yay, boring” affair. Maybe it’s because I kind of despise anything remotely hippy-fied. Or gypsy-fied. Or indeterminable-eastern-european-rural-nomadic-community-ified. Maybe it’s because I think that the concept of creating a party -McGuyver style- out of a Goat, a Tambourine and a Moustache is rather retarded. Or maybe I’m just a cold, nasty cynic who never warmed to Perfect Stranger’s Balky, and therefore “doesn’t get it”. Maybe it’s for all of the above. The point being, that maybe I wasn’t the most enthusiastic person to send off to the 44 Stanley HQ on Saturday Night. But hey, these Mahala beggars can’t exactly be choosers, so me it was.


Admittedly, I was a little late for the whole affair. In the interests of remaining as positive as possible under the circumstances, I had accidentally-on-purpose lost track of time at a friend’s birthday party via a rather gory session with a sizeable quantity of cheap liquor. Arriving at the venue, the prospects for a good night didn’t look good. There was a grotesquely long line, and half of Rivonia appeared to be in attendance, novelty Festival Hats proudly in tow (which is some sort of mainstream code language for ‘look at how kooky and openminded I can be’). But as I made my way inside, it all started to change. The scales fell from mine eyes! And where I was once blind, I now miraculously could see! Not because my icy little heart melted as it warmed to whatever rural indulgences were happening around me. Not because I was inexplicably and madly seduced by the heady combination of filthy hay, donkey crap and tinkling ankle bells.


Instead, it was one rather obvious observation that appealed to my humanity: Everybody was wasted. Like, hammer drunk. So drunk that come 2pm the bar was relieved of nearly all of its wares. Security wasn’t caring who or what was let through the door. Alcohol was being sloshed to and fro over the bales of hay. There was fire and cigarettes everywhere. If ever there was a recipe for disaster, or a job for the Joburg Fire Department, this was certainly it. But no one seemed to care. This was an ode to excess. To depravity. To people having an excuse to go bat-shit crazy and free themselves from the modern shackles of Dressing Coherently. Unlike the Cape Town version of the jol, there didn’t seem to be anyone trying to have a meaningful cultural experience. Or an ironic one. It was all balls to the wall name throwing. And yeah, I wish I could say more on the specifics of the party. But to be honest, I didn’t really notice nor did I care. And if you were there, you will know what I’m saying. And if you weren’t, you’re just gonna have to take it from me and, next time, swallow your sartorial pride, shake off your hippy-allergy, don your moustache and get those dancing shoes on.

Image © and courtesy Caroline Hilary

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