Aubergine Aubergine Aubergineby Travis Lyle, images by Deborah Rossouw / 23.09.2010
In the car, straight after graft, Friday, 5pm. Negotiate the grumbling traffic outta Cape Town, head for Worcester with The Wife and two upcountry cousins of the dreadlocked persuasion. Cue hash smoke and apprehension over roadblocks. The Wife chews thistles a bit about trance until I gently remind her that if you attend a trance jol, you have no right to tune the hippies about the trance. Clickety clack goes the arrival and then there we are, filling our hipflasks with whisky (no bottles at this jol, fair enough, do your bit) and readying our minds, bodies and souls for the inevitable onslaught. It isn’t long in arriving.
What does a trance party sound like? Aubergine, aubergine, aubergine, butternut, butternut, pumpkin. Which is much like what Earthdance, outside Worcester, sounded like. OK, I lie – on Friday there was a fair bit of motherfucker thrown in for good measure. Nothing wrong with a bit of motherfucker now and then. A dash of motherfucker with your aubergine, sir? Why thank you, that’ll do nicely. Perhaps that’s a touch aggro to kickstart a three-day trance festival that’s all about dancing for peace? Nah, as long as they’re not cutting each other open with bottlenecks or hailing a passing ambulance, the kids are alright. And hey, if you’re gonna be jolling, it’s nice to think that at least some good – other than your own pleasure – comes of it, which is the case at Earthdance.
Friday started off on an odd note and set the tone for the whole episode, really. Odd in a good way – like it was kinda odd to be amongst thousands of dancing punters (some of them arguably better off lying down, but never mind, if you buys the ticket, you takes the ride) and see none of the aggression or violence that usually mark a music festival. Let’s be honest; we South Africans are free and easy with our fists and tongues, and if the mutterings of veterans are to be taken at face value, even those havens of peace, love and flouro codpieces – trance parties – have had their fair share of badass.
Maybe it’s the net result of the reformation that has played out over the last few years at Cape trance jols, since a concerted effort by various organisers was taken to weed out some ‘dark’ elements (read: ‘gangsters who sold tik and brought guns to the jol’). Whether or not that’s the case, the general state of play at Earthdance was very mellow. Amazingly mellow. Fantastically so. For example, there was hardly any of the usual. And what constitutes the usual? Why, nothing short of some 16 year old doing the Dog-Shag Asana, ralfing in the middle of the main entranceway on all fours. It has to be right in the middle, mind – the headspace of a ralfer means he/she can’t possibly duck into the shadows, hell no. Nor, for that matter, was there much hustling – you know, the kinda hustling done by hustlers the world over: bugging you for cigarettes, trying to sell you shit drugs, hassling the ladies, making you get twitchy. In point of fact, there was little or none of that at all.
But back to the music, and bear in mind this is no comprehensive review that analyses the finer points of the event, its performers or the nuances of punter apparel. No, these are merely the battered surviving memories of the weekend’s rigours. Friday night, with its dash of motherfucker, was of course all about true urban grit: PH Fat rocked, as did BTeam who impressed no end, and Niskerone delivered his effervescent ever-bouncing drum ‘n bass to rapturous response. Saturday brought more of the same, only in more flavours: the hippies cooked up a serving of Tibetan singing bowls and bongos in Peace Camp, the psy DJs grilled thick slabs of aubergine aubergine aubergine on the Origin Stage and the Music Box continued an unstoppable buffet of tasty electronic treats a la Krushed ‘n Sorted, Mix ‘n Blend et al. Hmmm. Tasty.
So, Earthdance. A thick, wide, massive, thumping jol of magnificent proportions it certainly is. Fuck-off size sound systems of the very best clarity? Check. Mind-blowing and eye-boggling décor? Check. Psy-trance howling across packed dancefloors at 130bpm? Fuckin-A, check. Dreadlocks, wide-eyed freaks, stilt walkers, fireplay, chillum yoga, yoghurt weaving and beatific hippies? Oh, but of course. And violence? No. Attitude? No. Bad vibes, dodgy dealers, drunken punch-ups? No, no and no. Result. But wait! There’s more! Earthdance now comes with added Red Bull Music Studio! And, as if that’s not enough, now with co-active D10 Drum ‘n Bass Dubstep enzyme! That’s right folks, for one weekend and one weekend only, you too can experience your own private music festival mindfuck with a selection of soundtracks and subcultures!
Nice. I won’t lie, I like that kinda thing, I do. Maybe not as much as Andy Davis likes 340ml but hey, I’ve been known to throw name for three days just for the hell of it, and if the event has a sublime smorgasbord of fucking great electronic mayhem dovetailed with karma-positive ethic, all the better. What can I say – it’s my culture.