Afrika Burn 24th - 30th April 2017
Rave Level 5/5
Family Friendly 1/5
Location: Tankwa Karoo, South Africa (300km from Cape Town)
Size: 11,700 in 2016 (grows every year)
Vibe: Dusty, Dreamy and exceptionally free. So many different vibes.
What to Wear: Anything and everything. Often the more ridiculous the better. Radical Self-Expression is encouraged in the dress up department.
Activities: Installation art, music, meditation, yoga, body painting, sky diving, bike riding, hugging, dancing, burning sculpture watching, making new friends, living and loving.
If you happen to be someone who enjoys the creature comforts in life, and your idea of a good festival is being in a gorgeous valley, your feet being caressed by perfectly manicured lawns, Rosé on tap at the VIP bar, popular mainstream bands tickling your eardrums, while you elegantly bop too and fro, knowing that there is a clean bed in close proximity to you at all times, then AfrikaBurn might not be your first choice of festivals.
Afrikaburn is not for the faint of heart, at times you will be unclear as to whether its real life, whether you are on the set of Mad Max, or if you have indeed just landed on Mars. It is a celebration of art, light, sound and culture that attacks all of your senses in the most weird and wonderful of ways. From the sandstorms, to the rough and rocky terrain (pretty much only suitable for 4 wheelers) the less than optimal and fairly public shower and toilet facilities, to the scorching hot days and bitterly cold nights, excessive walking and for the most part, self catering dinning, it can test your character in a million ways. Having said that, the event practices Radical Inclusion- anyone and everyone is invited to partake, there are no pre-requisites and you are bound to learn a number of things about yourself out in the desert.
Most of those that have been and experienced it in all its splendour, will no doubt tell you it is one of the most incredible experiences, completely different to anything else you know and have done, and certainly one to put on the bucket list.
Taking Place on the plains of the Karoo Desert in a place known to burners as Tankwa Town, that for 1 week of the year transforms from long stretches of baron land into an electric town and energetic community of free spirited wanderers, Afrikaburn is one of the older and bigger spin offs of Burning Man in the US, having just celebrated their 10th Burn.
Much like Burning Man, Afrikaburn too is is guided by some key principles, a set of ideals by which it is hoped that all participants and community members will live by and carry forward; Radical Inclusion, Gifting, Decommodification, Radical self-reliance, Radical Self-Expression, communal effort, civic responsibility, leave no trace, participation, immediacy, each one teach one.
In other words, by all means loose yourself, dance your pants off, wake up in a random tent, but do so in a way that is conscious, clean and participative rather than destructive. Don’t be throwing things on the ground, the MOOP (matter out of place) police will be after you, you are expected to leave the place as you found it, but definitely do hug a couple of strangers, burners love a free hug.
This is no Four Seasons experience, no-one is turning down your sheets and placing chocolates on you pillow, if you even have one. Camping completely depends on what you plan ahead and which camp you are in. There are a number of ways to go about this.
Some people opt for the plug and play camps or organized tour groups, where a set of people go ahead and setup your camp and your tents for you and often supply 2 cooked meals a day.
Many of the bigger themed camps that have been running for a number of years are normally run buy a few people who take charge in dealing with all the prep leading up to the burn, everything from the theme, setups, décor, cooking and bathroom facilities, what they are going to provide to the community, water tanks etc. They are normally given a pre-determined camping spot and accommodate a fair amount of people, so if you have an in through a friend, or any acquaintance, you can join these camps and are often just required to contribute something towards setup and general facilities as well as be delegated tasks throughout the week so that everyone in the camp is helping out in some way, pulling their weight and contributing to making it a functional camp and inclusive community.
In this instance you are still required to bring all your sleeping bags, pillows, tents, food etc yourself and set it up within the Camp and then share kitchen, bar, shower , and common areas.
The other option is to just wing it, arrive with no pre-determined camping spot and find somewhere to park your car and setup your tent and hope that you have awesome neighbors.
One big thing to consider is, if you are someone who likes their sleep and is planning to get as much of it that is humanly possible at an event that is on the go 24/7, avoid the designated loud zones close to the late night music and dance areas.
Lastly and most importantly, be a contributing member of the Afrikaburn society. Gifting is a huge part of Afrikaburn. Whether you are gifting people a tangible thing, gifting your time to help people build their tents or fix a bike puncture, gifting of your knowledge and friendship or simply giving out free hugs, immerse yourself in the community, make new friends, talk to people you don’t know, dance with a stranger, appreciate the art and EXPRESS YOURSELF!
P.s. Clean up after yourself –leave no trace. ☺
By Day you will find yourself exploring the terrain laden in an array of different artwork that you can often climb, crawl through, balance on or just marvel at in wonder. Not to mention the huge amount of detail and creativity that goes into burner outfits that in themselves are a form of art and self-expression. From straight up nudity, to the most excessive heavily adorned costume made of every material you can think of. Pretty much anything goes. This event is your opportunity to wear the most ludicrous thing you could ever imagine and feel free of any form of judgement. Express yourself!
The mutant vehicles are another special and unique form of art. People spend months collaborating to create art cars of all forms and sizes, at some point you need to find yourself on one of these moving vehicles not knowing where you are headed and sharing stories with a bunch of complete randoms.
There are also so many different activities going on at any given time all around the camps. From meditation, yoga, to live piano playing, games and activities, a human car wash and a number of beautifully bizarre happenings. Explore!
By night the temperature drops quite severely and the best advice you can be given is LAYER LAYER LAYER! Faux Fur is your friend here, unless you like to freeze your tits off. More importantly though, by night, Tankwa Town transforms into a neon carnival, an explosion of multicoloured light, a spectacle that when seen for the first time, blows your mind in the most trippy of ways.
The night time also brings the pinnacle event, the Burn itself, While there are a number wooden art structures that burn throughout the course of the week, The main one is what is known as the San Clan, built to look like a group of people to further emphasis the sense of community. Before the burn there are fire dancers and flame throwers that prance around in front of the Clan displaying their talents, before the Clan itself is lit and thousands of people stand around in a trance like state watching the flames roar before it falls to the ground. Even for the people least inclined to be tree hugging hippies, it’s a pretty special spiritual feeling and feeling of unity.
Don’t expect setup stages with all your favourite artists on the Top 100 headlining, that is not the nature of this event. Afrikaburn is community based, so you are pretty much going to get whatever the different camps, art structures and cars are spinning. Explore enough and you are bound to find music to your liking. Everything from themed camps playing cheesy old school hits while their patrons dance flamboyantly with vigorous jazz hands, to more intense trance and house music. Late night, if you venture deep into the darkness you most likely to find the harder more electronic based sets. If you still haven’t found something that makes you want to break into spontaneous dance, then play your own music, create your own vibe, pretty sure if your energy is high, you will find that people will trickle in to join in expressing themselves in motion, no doubt new friendships will be made.
When it comes to food, plan ahead! Know how many nights you are going to be there and try plan 2 meals ahead of time for each day. Whatever you need to survive on the nourishment front, you need to take yourself. There are no food stalls, glamorous banquets, communal food areas or anything really, other than what you bring yourself. Take A LOT of water, more than you probably think you need. Nothing at all except for ice is sold at Afrikaburn, in fact money is a completely irrelevant form of currency at Afrikaburn, no body cares how much money you may have, charm and genuine friendliness will get you a lot further and if you need something, bartering/trading is a suggested form of transaction. So if you run out of water, best you have something great to trade in return. Having said that, being the inclusive, gifting community that it is, you are more than likely to find people offering you a whole range of delicious things, from cold sliced watermelon to sharing their pasta dish around a bon-fire.
Many of the themed camps often offer something in the food or drink department too, as their form of gifting to the community. It may be anything from Tea and coffee at 10am, to Chocolate pancakes for any lucky passer byers.
Festibel Contributor and Photographer: Meg Laubscher
For Tickets: www.afrikaburn.com