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Culture, Reality

HEART OF RAGE | PART II

by Samora Chapman and Robyn Perros / Images by Russell Grant and Samora Chapman / 19.12.2014

THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF SKATMAN AND ROBIN

ROBIN
I re-connect with Samora and we make our way inside the jol, after the Mahala Ed has a squabble with the bouncers and they force him to delete some photos off his camera. At over R1 000 a pop, the rage passports are magic documents we don’t have.

Inside the club, smoke machines hiss at our feet as we venture through the swamp of sex-drives and sweaty bronze flesh. The puny DJ drops the beat and fist pumps fly like bullets through a battlefield of green lazers and dubstep explosions. It’s world war fucking III… death by fist pump!

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I seek refuge in the bathroom. A girl with pink feathers springing from her hair is leaning up against a stall. “They’re hair-extensions,” she confesses; plastering her thin lips in pink lip-gloss that matches her pink eye-shadow.

Melanie’s a high school dropout and is finishing her beauty school training in Durban. She’s “too old” for Rage she boasts, but needs to keep an eye on her boyfriend who had just matriculated. She lists her beautician skills loudly, giving the bathroom a verbal makeover: “Acrylic nails, manicures, pedicures, waxing, eye-lash tinting, facials!” she announces, pursing her little rubber lips that now look glued to her face.

SKATMAN
I can’t get anywhere. I’m swimming through bodies. Every step I take, a group of party people grab me and plead for a photo. The posers are joyful, the smiles liberated, the eyes blurry sparkles. Free. Fucked. Who’m I kidding, I do the same thing every weekend – celebrating victories or tryna wash away the pain.

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I’m by the pool table talking to a tubby dude with sweaty curls and a teddy bear face. His eyes are glazed as he sways. “I need to go home bru. I can’t take it anymore,” he says. “I thought I would have done better. But I’ve only slept eight hours in four days. Take me home!”

ROBIN
I’m snared at the pool table by a dude in tracksuit pants and a flat peak. It was bound to happen. He grips me by the shoulders and shouts in my face: “You are so fucking high!” I nod, even though I’m so fucking sober. “You should get really drunk as well, I promise you it’s sooo nice,” he slurs, rubbing his newly sprouted stubble against my cheek. He reeks of Jagermeister and a festering steak n’ kidney pie, I don’t know how much longer I can hold my breath.

I thank him for the worst advice ever and ask him where he’s from.

He clutches his groin, throws his head back and yells: “JO’BUUURG!” then barks three times like a ferocious dog on crack.

Represent brother, represent.

I hustle into the next game of pool. My assigned pool partner is a shy Pretoria boy capable of holding a conversation for more than two minutes AND not spitting in my eyes.

“I never do this,” Stephan tells me while we sit on the couch getting our asses whupped at pool. “I feel very insecure. I don’t do this sort of thing back home. It’s crazy here!”

He shakes his head at the crowds screaming along to a dubstep remix of ‘Low’ by T-Pain… “apple bottom jeans!” We slink back into the couch in unison, exhausted and bored.

Dancing manchilds fling out their Cream Soda stained tongues, making phallic gestures with the pool cues at girls nearby. It’s time to leave. But hey, we’d made it (just) past midnight without throwing up, passing out or contracting an STD.

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SKATMAN
Outside the club I spot two medics lounging in beach chairs and looking pretty laid-back. So I approach to find out how the damage control had been. I’d read that three kids knifed each other to a bloody death up in backwater Richard’s Bay at a matric party just days before… so I was expecting the worst.

“The kids have been very well behaved,” the medic guy tells me. “Nothing but stubbed toes, twisted ankles and sunburn!”

Really? No OD’s, broken noses, rape cries? Well I’ll be…

Turns out Rage 2014 was (incredibly) almost incident free and injected an estimated R80 million into the local economy. It’s almost too good to be true. We later scour the net and there’s absolutely no negative media, reports of accidents, violence, arrests or drug abuse online. Thousands of kids going wild for 10 days and not a single accident/misdemeanor? Call me a cynic, but I find that hard to believe. Perhaps the machine is too big, the business too valuable and the management of information too tight… not a leak in sight. #CapitalismWins.

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But back in real time…

ROBIN
We follow the smell of greasy food away from the club and up to the top of a hill where we find a beautiful middle-aged Portuguese woman all alone in a small caravan, happy as a fairy in the sea breeze.

“This is my special family recipe,” she tells us in her exotic Portuguese accent as she fries up the burgers. We stare up at her like children at a magic show as she flips the patties; telling us stories about her travels around the world.

“I was a hippie, you know the good old 60s… kids these days just don’t have fun like we did. My kids are too serious,” she says, waving her spatula in the air like a wand. “Me, I’m a chemical engineer… but here I am on this beautiful evening making some delicious food next to the ocean.”

She hands us our food as if it held the secret to a long, happy life.

I wondered if the excessive debauchery, consumerism and conformity I had been a part of that night was really all that fun, or even rebellious.

The space cakes from the house party kick in on the drive home. Later, I lie awake, alone with my thoughts, high as a kite. I don’t feel free. And it seems that a lot of the kids I spoke to that night didn’t either. It seems like “Destination Freedom” is a far off, fong kong land. And we’re all searching for it.

SKATMAN
Ultimately there is no single rage story, no ultimate truth or groundbreaking conclusion here. Rage is a South African cultural phenomenon that initiates the privileged youth into the real world (in some weird, twisted way). A world governed by uninhibited consumption, hedonism and (most importantly) fitting in. At times it’s innocent fun, a right of passage. At others, it’s something dark and sordid. And it’s almost always the end of childhood.

*Read part one HERE.

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*Colour images © Samora Chapman
*Black and white images © Russell Grant

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