In case you hadn’t heard, 2014, will see the 20th instalment of South Africa’s premium music festival – Oppikoppi. That makes the historical event the same age as our democracy. Prawns—as Oppikoppi revellers have been affectionately christened—have been gathering democratically at Northam Rock City in the name of music and camaraderie for as long as our comrades have been trying to figure out how this whole democracy thing works.
From Aloe Blacc to Valiant Swart, Dust until Dawn, District 9 to Kreef, Dorp to Beer Drone, Boom Straat to Bottle Trees, Wet Wipes to droogies, Crowd Rafts to Skank Pits, Koppies to Kaal Loops, Rock to Electro, and 400 to 20 000, the festivals trek has been a Dionysus Odyssey—characterised by themes of homecoming, temptation, disguise, hospitality, identity and exile.
To commemorate Oppikoppi: Odyssey, we have compiled a list of 20 considerations that may assist in making your Oppikoppi experience odyssean. In no way is this the right way of experiencing Oppikoppi. However, if you keep a handful of these considerations in mind during your time at Oppikoppi, you are more likely to savour a spiritual voyage marked by many changes of fortune.
It goes without saying that in order to experience Oppikoppi you have to be present at Oppikoppi. The bludgeoned path to Northam Rock City is a labyrinth of potholes. Make sure that you put your K53 helmet on and arrive alive. Extra points for whomever manages a Marcus Haney by sneaking in without a ticket. Best of luck with the Eyethu crew—South African festival security does not fuck around. Trust me, Ive been tazed.
This is an extension to the previous consideration. The Oppikoppi gates open to the public on Tuesday. With the music only starting on Thursday, those who arrive on Tuesday or Wednesday are regarded as King Prawns who unlock the veteran badge for arriving early. Arriving early also allows you to avoid the traffic and gives you freedom to arrange your tribe as you see fit. Oppikoppi is as much (if not more) about the people as it is about the music and arriving early will demonstrate this.
Remember that Omo advert with the kid wearing white and playing in the garden with mud which was meant to demonstrate the efficiency of Omos cleaning ability. Oppikoppi is just like that except, you’re that kid, the garden is Oppikoppi, the mud is dust and Omo is wet wipes. Say goodbye to any ideas you had of hygiene and stock a lot of wet wipes.
Arrange Your Tribe
Once you’ve arrived you are going to want a prime location at which to set up your tribe of prawns. Most think that the closer you are to the festival area, the better. Would you camp in the middle of the N1 highway during peak traffic knowing that the majority of the drivers are exponentially over the drinking limit? If not, then you won’t want to be close to the festival area entrance. It’s about finding a balance of proximity between the festival area entrance and the hills-have-eyes outskirts of Dionysus Drive and Canis Major.
Get Lost Geographically
Once your tribe is settled in and you have your campsites biological GPS imprinted into your brain, forget that it exists. Whether you like it or not, at some stage at 4 in the morning (supposedly the time when all the bad things happen) on your way back to your tribe, you will get lost. Don’t stress. Embrace the uncertainty. Your tribe will praise you when you come back with spiritual stories of your time in limbo.
Get Lost Physiologically
This consideration will help in applying the above consideration successfully. There is something about the air (pronounced: dust) in Northam which seeps into your liver allowing you to drink more than double what you’re used to drinking. It also helps that beer grows on trees. Capitalise on this feat of nature and physiology and ensure that you spend the majority of your time in a state which would see you failing a sobriety test dismally.
Lose An Inanimate Object
Outside of getting lost geographically and physiologically, you are also guaranteed to lose at least one of your inanimate objects. From IDs to iPhones, the lost & found at Oppikoppi could furnish a black market profitability. The trick here is that if it’s not on your person, then it is impossible to lose it. You’d much rather lose a 3310 than your Galaxy IV – so leave the luxuries behind and choose what you lose.
Don’t Lose Your Cool
Following the pattern of the previous considerations suggests that losing is actually winning at Oppikoppi. However there is one thing you should never lose and that is your cool. Leave the anger and hate at home along with all the other inanimate objects you prefer not to lose. There are kennels for those who lose their cool.
Miss Your Favourite Artist
With over 100 acts performing on 6 different stages over 3 days it is highly likely that at some point you will miss out on an opportunity to see one of your favourite artists performing live. Regardless of the amount of planning you may prepare (“I will watch the first half of A’s performance at Wesleys Dome and then run over to the Bruilof Stage to catch the second half of B’s performance”) shit will happen and your plan will become one of those inanimate objects you lose.
Discover Your New Favourite Artist
With over 100 acts performing on 6 different stages over 3 days it is highly likely that at some point you will be presented with an opportunity to discover your new favourite artist performing live. Seeing that you’ve lost your entire plan, go out on a whim, and you may find that you are surprisingly fond of that genre of music you didn’t even know existed.
The Unofficial Line-Up
Outside of the artists who have been officially billed to perform, lots of the revellers are artists within their own rights. There will be various impromptu performances and acts taking place in the camping area. The only way you are likely to witness one of these events is by having absolutely no plan. Good things tend to happen when you least expect them. Extra points if you manage to witness the marching pipe band.
Oppikoppi is a society where the unconventional is encouraged. Outside the fences of Northam Rock City you’ll find yourself unwittingly wearing a ‘uniform’ to fit in with the general clothing expectations of society. Oppikoppi offers the oppitunity to play outside these conventions without the fear of social disdain. Kit up in your spiritually grotesque or artistically obscene godly costumes and take part in the running of the gods.
In antithesis to dressing up and the hereditary curse of nudity from Adam and Eve’s experience with the Apple Tree, there is also the Boom Straat 500 Naked Dash. After all, the quintessential costume is the total absence of any costume whatsoever. Last years naked dash was thought to be a folk tale until pictures documenting the event surfaced. The Naked Dash exists and nothing is quite as liberating as running in the nude.
Start A Fire
When considering the headlining acts billed for the festival, most tend to forget to consider the act of starting a fire. Oppikoppi is one of the only gatherings of its nature where prawns are allowed to start their own fires. Keep the flames below knee height and enjoy the entrancing experience of being engrossed by the act of combustion in the midst of considering the meaning of life.
All our considerations are themed around letting go of inhibitions and saying ‘yes’ where your programmed reaction is usually ‘no’. Bobbing your head to the beat is very much a guarded reaction which has been programmed into our behaviour. Take the oppitunity to give total reign of your bodily movements over to the rhythm and beat. It’s about interpreting sound with your body.
Your experience at Oppikoppi is meant to be a thorn to your customary pattern of living. One of those patterns of living which will be influenced by your Oppikoppi experience is that of sleeping. Sleep is expensive and you should prepare for the currency to be at an all time low for your duration at Northam Rock City. Sleep is the cousin of death and I heard that family is incestual.
Take A Ride
The primary mode of travel during Oppikoppi is using your feet. Regardless of this there will be motor vehicles throughout the duration of the festival driving around in circles and going nowhere slowly. One such vehicle is the water truck – which actually serves a purpose in reducing the dust. Forget what your mother taught you and take a ride with absolute strangers on a trip without any destination.
This is probably the most difficult consideration to implement. Roger Young is a verb which describes that act of going to a music festival, ingesting narcotics, and writing a brutally honest and absorbing article about your experience. Extra points for whomever manages this feat and receives an invite from the festival organisors to do the same the following year.
Boring but basic. I don’t feel a need to explain this because as far as I know South Africa has seen no deaths at music festivals. Keep up the good work and avoid the medical tent.
Last time I checked plastic, glass and tent pegs were not classified as fauna or flora. Be considerate and leave the environment with the shit you brought. At least package that which you are leaving behind neatly in black plastic bags.
Enjoy the Odyssey and don’t try any of this at home.
See what I did there?