Sold Turkeyby Themba Kriger / 10.01.2012
“We should throw our own party!” is most often a schnapsidee, literally an idea born at the bottom of a bottle of booze, that much like “we should open our own bar” or “let’s start our own magazine”, tends to get forgotten as the initial excitement wears off and the reality of such an endeavour kicks in. “Fuck it, let’s just get another round.” So when a group of friends had that exact idea and not only saw it through, but also created one of the fastest growing party brands in iKapa, it is understandable that you might feel a tinge of jealousy. “Why didn’t I think of that? A party on a Sunday, it’s so simple!”
In the space of a year, Cold Turkey has grown from a small gathering to a highly anticipated fixture on the bi-weekly calendar of Cape Town’s party people, featuring a demographic that would make Desmond Tutu proud. Of course the hipsters were there before it became popular, but the crowd has always included bass junkies of all types, from hip hop heads to glitch producers and of course the odd tourist looking for that quintessential Mother City experience. These days, the numbers are up, the fashions ranging from retro-afro chic to outfits from last Friday’s Discotheque and ‘I’m only here for the music’. This growth has meant that the team has had to continually come up with new ideas to improve the party, while also addressing issues before they become problems, while relying only on door earnings to cover all expenses. If that sounds like troubleshooting at the office, it’s because to an extent it is. Throwing parties is a business, entertainment is the product and despite what the communists say, that isn’t such a bad thing. All that means is that someone has invested time, money and effort and in return expects some reward.
But when a party like Cold Turkey gets sponsored the cynics invariably cry: Sell Out! But the arrival of a sponsor has allowed the party to resolve issues such as a lack of seating in the outside space and pickpocketing. Extra security was ordered, free lockers made available and the outside area extended. The sponsorship has also allowed the Cold Turkey crew to buy a soundsystem for the party. This decreases their expenses and allows them to pay the DJs more while still keeping the cover charge nice and low. In this equation, the only one selling out is the bar at Amadodas.
If you look at what has driven the success of Cold Turkey, the Sunday afternoon braai atmosphere, the night time debauchery with scant regard for Monday, the wide variety of bass heavy music; this has all remained unchanged despite the arrival of the Converse sponsorship. Of course the Converse branding, with its kinda patronising “The Right To…” campaign, can be visually irritating, but as with the logos on your favourite sports team’s shirt, or the banners on the side of this site, they tend to blend into the background as you focus on the good stuff. Rather than changing the crowd completely, the sponsorship has made it easier for the crew to cater to a larger group of like-minded people and enact new ideas, without killing the overall atmosphere.
The resources Cold Turkey has tapped into has allowed them to evolve the party and start bringing in international acts. So it’s always surprising that so many people complain about the branding and increased commercialisation, instead of getting excited about what future acts might come through instead? Perhaps people just miss the feeling of being part of the new shit, back when when Cold Turkey was an idea just 200 people strong. With attendance nearing the 2000 mark, the regulars tend to arrive early, for some relaxation in the sun, before the night time madness hits. Truth is, I’m a big fan of what Cold Turkey has created, and while a small core of early adopters may reject the commercial leg up assisting the growth of the party, and search for that next new thing, I’m stoked that the crew has been able to take their party to the next level. How they manage the next growth spurt and mediate their own commercial interests with their ability to improve the party, will invariably make or break the Turkey.
*All images © Themba Kriger.