Me: This is the best Bushfire yet!

Andrew: Oh wow, really. Why?

Me: It’s the first one where I’m completely myself.

That exchange was the last day of Bushfire 2018. Sunday evening on the last weekend of May. Andrew and I were waiting in the crowd for the Africa Tribute from Salif Keita, Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Yemi Alade with our friends Jackie and August. It just hit me what an amazing festival this particular one had been and how much better it was that I could be my authentic self the entire time. Wigs, printed palazzo pants, statement tees, silky kimonos, ripped pantyhose, the shortest of shorts and just living my best life!!

It’s no reason CNN named it one of the 7 best African Festivals and it continues to be recognised as the most responsible one of the bunch for it showcases themes of environmental sustainability, education, sexual health (seriously there were condoms on everything), human rights and from this years theme of “Rainbow Fire” focusing on the visibility of the LGBTQ community. Goodbye code-switching. Hello queer-festivity. It’s not all perfect but it’s one hell of a good start. For my sixth Bushfire, I’ve watched it grow and improve to make it more than just going to stand in front of a main stage.

Oh my… well now that I’ve started at the end, let me go back to the beginning. 🙂 Waking up at 5:30 am to beat the border rush is ESSENTIAL. We flew through the normally excruciating border experience. 25 minutes tops. Since Swaziland is full on bordered by South Africa, it has all the shops we know and love… and they take Randelas. Grocery shopping, booze top up and straight into Malkerns Valley to check-in. Wristbands on. Car offloading to our campsite. Real estate is everything at a sold out fest. Last thing you want is to be meandering through hundreds of tents that all look the same to find yours. A cute sweaty Swati man by the name of Chester in green overalls helped us get all the loose crap we managed to stack up in the boot and flattened back seat of Onika. Camp set up. Castle Lites. *clink* and Coals on the braai.

You never want to peak early but I only went to bed at 8am the next day. Mess. I wouldn’t change anything about that though. Highlights for Day 1 were silver draped Nakhane giving me all the life and queer pride performing tracks from my fave album of 2018 so far. Swazi native Velemseni giving us jazzy neo-soul and rock vibes – loved! A fresh electric surprise from accordionist Mario Batkovic and Reunion Island singer Nathalie Natiembe who seemed like she teleported herself somewhere else during her barefooted performance. Gorgeous. Ooooh! I need to do a Spotify playlist of all this goodness actually. Will share soon!

After barely sleeping, I managed to squeeze in 3 hours. Got up and got straight back into it. Sleep when you’re back in Jozi I’d say changing into my day lewk after just washing my face, brushing my teeth and reshuffling my nappy pillow hair. Saturday shower missions are not a real thing if you don’t wake up ridiculously early. I saw y’all queuing while I drank beer in front of the Campsite Cafe fire at sunrise. There’s nothing like that sense of being where you are and not thinking of anything or anywhere else.

Day 2 was good fun. For the main day it kind of failed in comparison to Friday and Sunday. I spent loads of time at the Firefly Stage which only had performances from Swati and South African DJs. Gqom, Kwaito, old school Hip-Hop, 90s R&B just a delicious pot of good music. You opt in and out as you wish, but it was always a guaranteed nice time on the sandy dancefloor. The main stage saw Samting Soweto doing his usual. He’s got a heck of a voice but there seems to be a trend of always using the same artists at these things. I guess it’s not their fault I go to basically every festival out there. Awks. Dear Ribane gave us all the robotic futuristic mastery they are known for. Manthe tears any stage up, I really admire her commitment of giving to get. I need those vizers they wear! By the time it got to Kwesta, Sho Madjozi and DJ Lag I was FINISHED. My body came to call collect. 3 hours of sleep could only get me to midnight. I was content. Most of Saturday night were SA acts I’ve seen a bunch of times. I slumped into bed and that was that.

Sunday was a nice and easy vibe. In the past you’d usually wake up around 10/11 to find that half the campsite had ghosted. The scramble to beat the border rush. Nope. Everyone was still there! It’s almost as if we all decided we were staying put. The rain came down. We stayed put. It stopped and we hit the main stage for the main event that was the Africa Tribute to Eswatini. Ladysmith Black Mambazo is a national treasure y’all. Hearing and seeing them makes you think of home, wherever that may be. Obvs everyone went completely bonkers for Salif. He only did one or two songs but that did the trick. There was a feeling of a great sense of pride and unity at this point and in the distance behind me someone was waving a massive flag. The rainbow. It doesn’t really get better than that.

To my best Bushfire experience. Thank you. It was wild. It was even sweeter having the people I grew up with also there experiencing their first fire. This lot have been there through every nickname from uBoom-Boom to uChaklas. Mad love for you cuzzies. This year has re-energised my love for this festival. The organisers understand growth and improvement. I’m just really glad those damn paper coupons are not a thing anymore. Cashless baby! The bar has been raised and so will Bushfire’s global footprint as Africa’s best.

ALNgoes., ALNthrowbacks.

The Fire Was Brought

#ALNgoes. My snaps, selfies and summarised account of my sixth and best visit of MTN Bushfire 2018.

Gallery

That other week my housemate Andrew and I took a young drive out to the Cradle for the annual Nirox Winter Sculpture Fair. The weather was gloriously sunny with a welcomed autumn crisp in the air. For some reason I thought because it was Mother’s Day it wouldn’t be too crazy, but everyone had the same idea to go on the Sunday rather than the Saturday. As crowded as it was it was lovely to see familiar faces.

Parking was a bit of a mare, we spent hours queuing at the food stalls (probably why I don’t have any pics of the food and wine stands), but it was a great day out guzzling bubbly, eating yummy overpriced seafood paella, and playing Rummikub on the lush green lawns. Besides the resident works that are always there I enjoyed a lot of the exhibited sculptures which included some mixed multimedia, glass printing, stonework, metal, LGBT+ activism and simple paper tag wishes on a tree. This gallery is mostly for people who have never been to the park as I had some friends who had never even heard of Nirox. Enjoy and be on the look out for their winter musical events.

ALNgoes.

Winter Sculpture Fair-y

A small gallery of my visit to the American Express Winter Sculpture Fair on May 13.

Gallery
ALNgoes.

The Whole ‘Victoria Yards’

I don’t know what my obsession is with choosing my blog post titles from movie titles but it just keeps happening. I really miss my days of being a movie buff. So two Sunday mornings ago I got sent a flyer by a friend for this ‘Open Studio Vibes’ sitch that was happening at some place called Victoria Yards. I’d never been to this place let alone heard of it, but I knew I had to go. As a liker of things I will always try out new things at least four times. Victoria Yards just needed one time to hook me.

It’s situated in Lorentzville towards the east of Johannesburg. Approaching it you can instantly see it’s been redone, repainted and re-energised. I don’t really know what the space was used for before but it seems like the developers (who apparently developed 44 Stanley) wanted to keep it as raw and not overly worked as possible. You can tell by the presence of a lot of exposed brick, minimal painting and rusted iron on the roofing.

The title of ‘Open Studio Vibes’ was just that. The yards are split into a number of studios used by visual artists like Blessing Ngobeni, Dario Manjate (who does magical things with magazine cuttings), controversial painter Ayanda Mabulu and artisanal artists like Tshepo The Jeanmaker and Hélène, an interesting jeweler who has moved here from France. More studios are available for anyone wanting to rent the space to work, create, sell and even teach.

Surrounding the grounds are vegetable and orchid gardens planted as part of an agricultural project to promote job creation as well as generate some income for them. Speaking to the creative who manages the space who ended up giving us a cute little tour of the space, she stressed how working with the community around the newly developed space is very important to what they want to achieve.

Soon they will be having their own farmers market where locals can sell their own produce to customers who come in from all over the city. More so the artists and artisans who own studios are obliged to provide skills development and apprenticeship to empower individuals of the community who will then also share this knowledge to others.

I have no doubt that this space will thrive and become something great. It offers a variety of well-made creations from its residents, a small brewery should you become a bit thirsty and peckish and eventually open event spaces which could be used as galleries, private parties and as a function hall.

I’ll be sure to let you know when they have something again, keep your eye on the #FOMOFridays post. Otherwise pop in and check it out for yourself it’s gonna be a total thing.

Standard
ALNgoes.

“Burn” After Reading

I’m lying on my bed as sick as a dog. It’s raining, my phone is persistently on airplane mode and I’m not quite ready to resynch into my everyday life. My phone has been harassing me and urging me to update apps, sync my data and look at all my notifications for the past couple of days and I’m not having it. Lord, I haven’t even paid my bills! Uhh. I’m not sure what I expected after doing something like Afrika Burn. Heck I’m not sure what I expected going there in the first place. I have many friends that have been and have had interesting things to say without really saying much. I’m pretty much in that situation.

This isn’t going to be the usual blow by blow review I give for ALNgoes posts. I guess it’s just going to be a short post just to share a bit of the experience of going to something like this. Even as I type this out I feel a little heavy and depressive. It may be the flu and the meds I’m taking, or the dark night sky or definitely, maybe the acoustic version of MUNA’s “Crying On The Bathroom Floor” coming out of my speakers. It also may be the aftermath of spending days on end in the arid plains of the Tankwa Karoo with no cell reception and nothing but art, music and humans to interact with.

I was fortunate enough to be part of a big theme camp that consisted of some of the most outrageous, talented, loving and shamelessly caring individuals from all over the world. I couldn’t have imagined from the moment we met in Cape Town and hit the road to the burn in a convoy of taxis and trailers that I would feel so much love from these total strangers, who I previously only knew as cellphone numbers in a WhatsApp group. This certainly happens anywhere I’m sure but there is something about being so disconnected from such a connected world and having to go back to the very basics. There were no handles, nothing to hide behind – just you, your contribution and your spirit.

There were many other camps and we were just a blimp in this manmade town which included a taxi service, bars, clubs, mutant vehicles, movie cinemas, a “burniversity” (I still don’t know what the curriculum was over there), yoga studios, a number of coffee bars and just about anything else you can imagine. It was all very unreal. Even looking up at the moon felt like I was looking at it from a planet which wasn’t Earth. The type of aliens and creatures that inhabited this space with me were extraordinary. The level of self-expression, the freedom of being and the pricelessness of love and sharing was immense.

My own revelation from walking the streets of Afrika Burn, climbing structures, tripping, going beyond, dancing until my soul lit fire and viewing some of the most creative and beautiful art is that being open, raw and true is a gift in itself. You may not get a pat on the back for it, but it sure feels amazing that what and who you are is enough. I’ve never hugged so much, laughed so much and told so many people how great they were in so many consecutive days. I fell in love with at least 5 times, found and lost a lover, kissed a familiar mouth, wandered off into the desert, spoke to the moon and watched interstellar communication from a magic carpet. This all sounds so kumbaya and glorious I’m sure, but this is my own take away from this experience. Trust and believe that there were some annoying moments, chance takers, abusive sandstorms and interesting camp dynamics. Put people anywhere in an isolated space with limited resources, harsh weather and just watch what happens. We even laughed about how it was like Survivor meets Big Brother and who would be voted off first in the camp or kept in an alliance because of special skills like cooking, camp maintenance, DJ’ing and such. I’ve certainly formed some lifelong friendships from the family we created this past week. Thank you to you all for the feels, the group hugs and unforgettable dance moves.

I wish such an experience didn’t come at such a great cost, but that’s the reality of creating an entire town in the desert. Getting there, eating, drinking and everything else-ing for a week can get hella costly. Now that I’ve seen and felt what it’s all about I can 100 percent recommend it to anyone with the means. I also know I am privileged to even be able to go to something like this and participate in the  way that I did. Sheesh! Didn’t I say this was going to be short? Hehe. Oh well. It was a lot, I don’t know why I thought I’d be short.

‘Come as you are for you are the only one’. That is the working title that came to me over and over during my time there. The title of this years burn was ‘The Working Title is ______”. Part my experience and part an installation name of one of the dancing spots I frequented. I appreciate everything from this experience and can safely say I have a few more burns left in me. When they will be? Who knows. Right now I need to resync and get ready for the real world.

 

For the day to day lewks head on over to the Burn style post.

Standard
ALNgoes.

Corona Sunsets Are The Bestest

With two stages, a ridiculously good line-up of local and international acts – Corona Sunsets Music Fest has definitely become a fave! I went to the first one last year and had THE best time. This year may have been even better. First of all the festival was moved from Muldersdrift to Val Bonne Country Estate in Modderfontein which honestly was a win for everyone. Who even knew this place existed, but it was an easy breezy Uber ride away from most places in Jozi. It also helped to have a special Uber drop off and pickup zone into the fest. Parking looked like a total mission. Second of all cashless bars rule, I’m so glad every festival is now adopting this and saving us from crazy queues, paper bills and card machines that are eternally “attempting to connect”.

Even with all this efficiency in place, there almost wasn’t a sunset to speak of thanks to the heavy afternoon rainfall. I spent a good 20+ minutes camped out at a food truck for shelter while stuffing my face with dim sum. Great trade off tbh. But true to Joburg rain, it moved away quickly and the sun came out in all it’s glory. DJ Maphorisa was doing his thing on the Griffin Stage welcoming the sun with his hits. Between him and Jullian Gomes on the Crown Stage, I naturally opted for him in particula. See what I did there. *wink* This man had us doing ALL the voshos! They are only enjoyable when you know you can spring back up. Somehow my knees are still intact right now.

There were plenty of food options that kept peeps going into the night. If you were into spirits there were bars just for that and a bar that just stocked coronas and corona cocktails. I don’t think I cared to find out what those were about, if you had some lemme know. At some point a friend mentioned that they actually liked corona now – mission accomplished for them I guess. I think they incepted me last year already. I’m very much into it.

Shekhinah got us swaying to all our favourites from her into the sunset. After her most people moved over to the other stage which was a fun dose of dance electro. During the sunset the main Griffin stage started spewing out fireworks from the stage with what was said to be a dance performances from the Corona goddesses. I don’t think I missed anything. The fireworks looks really cool though. The highlights of the night came through consecutively starting with Masters At Work who had everyone letting loose, DJ Fresh who played all the old and new house jams accompanied by a drummer who gave his set an exciting performative feel and Euphonik who mixed up electro with house perfectly.

Running up and down between the stages sounds like it would be a bit of a nightmare, but I really enjoyed it. It was even more fun in a skirt. Camelphat played out the last performance on the Crown Stage and whoever was around at that point ended off the night to an amazing and thumping set from French DJ/Producer Kungs. This certainly isn’t the music I listen to on a day to day basis, but it makes for a great party on an large estate.

There were thousands of people who came to enjoy themselves and did exactly that.  Corona outdid themselves with this one and the organisers planned everything to the t. Not even the rain could stop the music. You know what to do next year folks! Also I wonder how many times I used the word corona in this post?! Whew!

 

 

 

Standard
ALNgoes.

iStarring Cinemas THUD Launch

 

iStarring image-1

Last Friday I was invited to take a seat at The Hookup Dinner (THUD) hosted at OPEN in Maboneng. Simply put, THUD is a networking community of entrepreneurs which provides a platform for exchanging great business ideas and opportunities through engaging and contributing to their successes. This particular event focused on the launch of iStarring Cinemas, a business that allows us regular folk to own a piece of  an independent cinema and possibly the whole franchise.

Before we got to talking about iStarring Cinemas, the night kicked off with the #JustPitch180 Competition were 4 budding entrepreneurs gave a pitch of their idea or current project in 180 seconds. In this time they had to explain what problem their idea was solving, how they are going to achieve this, the resources required and how their opportunity will generate profit. Audience members were given a score sheet where we were asked to give points to each presenter. This exercise was great because some audience members could actually  be investors who are interested in provided assistance or capital. Not sure if that ended up happening, but this was the spirit of the evening.

After all the pitching teams were done the score sheets were collected and we moved right onto the ‘Networking mixer’ portion of the evening. A fave for me. The host encouraged guests to get into groups of 10 and avoid being in a group with someone you came with. I instantly ditched my friend Sunni for a partially formed group with people with friendly faces. I’m naturally an introvert (don’t get me started) so these type of things are terrifying for me, but for whatever reason I was quite comfortable with the situation. The objective of the mixer was for everyone to introduce themselves; what they do, what product or service or organisation they are with and what value proposition they had, if any. My group was super diverse. It had me, the engineer-blogger who was there to cover the event, a guy from the Eastern Cape (who actually knows my younger brother – small world I swear) who works with renewable energy, a branding expert, a paediatrician, a young lady working on a skills development app, a media person from BrownSense Market and a young female farmer who is using amazing methods in organic farming. There were a few connections that were made from that 10 minute session which was excellent considering this may not have happened if we were not forced to interact with each other in that way.

The moment of the night was the introduction of the iStarring Cinemas. I love the name so much! It’s a play on what we used to call the lead star of a film or show growing up (and I guess still today?) as their name came up right after the “Starring” title. Y’all know what I’m talking about. Essentially the idea behind this is to have pop-up cinemas across the country with local content for every day people to have access to their own stories. The best part is that anyone can invest as little as R150 in the making of more cinemas and earn a percentage of the ticket sales. The People’s Fund collective have already raised R180k for their first cinema which launches in two weeks on Freedom Day at BrownSense Market in Glen Austin. Premiere night will screen the much anticipated ‘Five Fingers for Marseilles’ and musical feature ‘She Is King’.

A master class from industry greats was held at the end of the night. Thandeka Zwane and Helen Kuun from Indigenous Films, and Dumi Gumbi from Ergo Company were part of a panel which gave guests the lowdown on the film industry and the realities of working and creating in such a wonderful but sometimes difficult space. Indigenous Films is South Africa’s biggest independent film distributor and will be supplying iStarring with it’s films. Ergo Company is a film studio which has produced local films such as ‘Five Fingers’ and ‘Mrs Right Guy’. They were not playing around with this launch. These people understand the industry and are committed in bringing film closer to people who don’t necessarily have access. Don’t ever say I don’t tell you nothing!

There are so many people doing such incredible things and THUD really allows for honest collaborations and fruitful networking especially for entrepreneurial South African’s who have the need to create their own opportunities. I obviously bought a small share into iStarring Cinemas, because #SupportBlackBusiness. Felt great!

Follow THUD for the next networking event (especially if you have a great business idea or project) and iStarring for more info on how to contribute.

iStarring image-2

Standard
ALNgoes., ALNthrowbacks.

Going BIG at Little Gig

For my first post for ALNgoes I decided to go back and throwback to not so long ago when I went to the Little Gig 24 Hour Festival 2018. It was my first time attending this relatively young fest, but it certainly wont be my last. After putting up some pics on Instagram I got a few DMs from friends asking about the fest, where it is, how it was and how I even got to know about it. So here you have it!

Little Gig is held in a foresty farm about 40 minutes from Cape Town. Basically Stellenbosch tbh. I probably first heard about it from a Facebook ad – we all know how they are all up in our activities. I wasn’t fully convinced until I watched the recap video of last years festival… It just looked so great. The venue, vibe and style. Paired with the insane lineup which included personal faves; Nonku Phiri, Bongeziwe Mabandla, Umlilo & The Stash Crew, Kid Fonque and Kenzhero there was no way I wasn’t gonna go. Some people thought that it was crazy to go all the way down to Cape Town for a festival, but let’s be honest we’ve all flown across the country for much less exciting things. My bestie was celebrating a birthday and we made it a thing. Simple.

It was AH-MAZING! It was totes a thing! It’s literally 24 hours. You do with that time as you wish. The fashion was out of control, in the best way. It was safe. I felt safe. I was pretty much dressed in a doily and some high waisted shorts all day and people thought that was cool. I liked that. Most would look at the ticket price and think it’s way too much, but for what you get from it – honey take it ALL! The bars were flowing all day because it’s all inclusive so no tapping of cards or counting coins. Food was non-stop gourmety and delicious goodness. A Vida e Cafe popped up on Sunday morning for that first cuppa to activate the senses which may have dimmed after all that day drinking And get this… There was a ‘Free Store’ were you could get anything from toothbrushes, cigarettes, tampons to cashews and some gum. All Woolies babes! Mahala. I naturally raided the store on my way out the next day. Padkos vibes. 😉

The crowd was a decent mix, probably more diverse than previous years but still very white (obvs Cape Town nice things). I was just really happy to see so many  of my beautiful happy queer family there doing all the things.

 

 

I didn’t think it could get any better at one point but when the sun made it’s way to the other parts of the world, the party really kicked in. A basketball court was converted into a stage where Black Motion played a killer set. Then much later a secret after-party was revealed at another part of the farm which was a jump! Doowap kicked things off with her always welcomed high energy set and was followed by more interesting DJs. Oh and the bar was still running with a slapchip stand to grease everyone up before bed.

After a full day of drinking, the morning after wasn’t as bad as I had anticipated. No major hangover, but a great breakfast spread and fresh juice certainly helped to keep me stable. Samthing Soweto sang the blues while everyone eased themselves back into reality with mimosas in hand.

I can’t account for everything, but just know that I had a blast at Little Gig. Shout out to my crew Jerri, Siya, Abe and homegirl from Namibia Wendy. You guys really made the fest that much better. Let’s do it again next year gang!

 

Check out more snaps on the Little Gig gallery and also According to Jerri for his gallery post on the fest.

Standard