AfrikaBurn, good lord, you will burn baby, baby, you will fucking burn… I keep waiting in vain for the dust to settle inside my head and for the beats in my ears to finally fade. It’s been a few days, guess I’ll need to wait a little longer to shake the shackles of the desert from my fragile bones. This year was my second trip to Tankwa Town, I attacked it from a different angle, well, so I thought, but really it just attacked me from a different angle.
For those of you who have never had your desert burn virginity popped then let me break it down for you. If you are driving from Cape Town then you are in for a 6hr trek to the heart of Tankwa Town in the Karoo, don’t even get me started on the trip from either Durban or Johannesburg, it’s too much. You need to pack everything and I mean everything, there is absolutely nothing provided for you, except a few long drops and whatever other desert gypsies have gifted to the masses… But do not count on much, take everything you think you could possibly need. A lot of people seem to think that you barter for things there, let me quash that notion immediately, you cannot trade goods nor is there anything to buy there at all, it’s survival of the most equipped. But let’s skip ahead to the nitty gritty, shall we? Let us skip passed the fact that once we arrived, after our perilous 16hr drive from Durban, and while I have strenuously driven home the importance of all our gear during that time, my partner in crime pours us two drinks and packs two bottles of our four bottles, for our 48hr desert jol into our back pack… When we go to pick the backpack up, sitting on the front seat of the car, it’s soaking wet… “Ahhhh no, what the fuck happened here?” *opens bag* “You packed the fucking bottles into the bag with no lids on them, you fucking muppet!?!?!?!?” So, two bottles gone, along with the backpack within the first 15min of arriving, “Stop shouting at me!” Front seat also now smells of tequila, vodka and ginger ale *winning* Which will mean that the car will smell like a bar with no windows, left in the baking sun to ferment for a couple days, just in time for our delightful return leg *jumps for joy at the thought* The ditsy barman tries his hand again, this time pouring another two drinks and packing them into the cooler box instead… I think we all can guess what the fuck happened next, right?!? Yup, he packed those bottles into the cooler box with our ice and some food stuffs, with no fucking lids on either?!?!? 20mins in, 90% of alcohol brought along all gone. Honestly, all I’m thinking at this point is chopping him up and putting him into the cooler box and gifting it into a hole in the desert. A far cry from the smooth set up of the first year, with the help from Matt Botha, the Antarctic Expedition Human Seal Specialist setting up base camp with all amenities quicker than it took the two of us to fuck everything up this year around, lesson learnt.
Moving along swiftly, once you’ve set up base camp and started your excursion towards the Binnekring (the centre for all the activities, artworks, themed camps etc) the first year entering was overwhelming and an eye opening experience, the diaspora of creatives who adorned the desert was truly a sight to behold, the abundance of talent on display was incredible, the imposing artworks standing tall towering over all those revellers below… I was amazed. You do seem to question some of the people there, although they don’t like it very much when you do that. There was a rather pretty looking girl peddling in her birthday suit through the desert, after she had passed me by a few times we eventually had a candid chat where I asked her, “I think it’s wonderful that you’re letting it all hang out, but I hope you have a shower here… It’s poes hot out and the front wheel of your bicycle is just churning dust towards your nether regions, essentially turning your vajayjay into a mudflap. Surely, it can’t be comfortable?” Now, I know this was probably not the best insight to ask for, but in my current state of mind, I was genuinely curious *she glances down at the dusty bush patch where her vagina resided, then back up at me* “You’re kinda ruining my burn,” I did apologise, “Sorry, otherwise you well?” She peddled off, to what I’m hoping was a shower oasis. Girl who I don’t know, if you’re reading this, I meant no harm… I honestly wanted to know if people were cleaning their shit there, you were a delightful treat to watch. Another prime example from last year was a girl, clearly having the time of her life, which is wonderful, truly it’s wonderful to see… It’s just that, I saw her before lunch, naked, cruising around in her boots that were made for walking in the relentless heat, then I saw her again later in the afternoon, still naked, then again in the night time, naked, cruising around in her boots. It’s really, really, really very hot there and ummmm, she had a natural vegetation from the 80’s protecting her goods from the dust, but I did mention the heat, hey?!? Anyhow, some shirtless dude put her on his shoulders later on in the evening… I’ll just let the mechanics of that simmer in your head for a moment or two. I puked in my mouth a little bit. Hey, I love nudity as much as the next guy, but come on, even the fucking bushmen protected their junk from becoming mudflaps. It’s science.
The second year, eh, it was alright. I’m not just saying that because I had seen it before, the artworks were a little average in comparison to the year before, they really could have and probably should have brought a little more to the event in that regard. That being said, there’s some trippy shit out there my friends, at the most random of places too… Come Dine With Me, basically seven people stand in this box and pop their heads through these spaces only to pop into this magical dinner setting and lights and candles and immaculate china and, and, and it was a weirdly wonderful dinner setting for heads, we also set off with our dinner mates, whom we just met at the table, for the rest of the evening to stomp our feet at The Lighthouse, my god The LIGHTHOUSE was insane, best vibe station there this year by a landslide!!! That is the beauty of AfrikaBurn, you meet people who are so welcoming and open to forming friendships, it’s a treat talking to strangers. Last year we had the pleasure of the Ledheadz Bus, where I was found dancing for hours on end like I was instructing a Zumba-Jumping Step Class at Virgin Burn, hugging anyone and everyone with the loving embrace of a soldier returning from war who made eye contact with me, whether they liked it or not, throwing out “I LOVE YOU’s!!!” with reckless abandon. Ahhhh what fun we had, sharing the dust kicking soiree with okes in budgie smugglers, trying to fashion their bottom lips into helmets whilst chewing on their bubble-gum disguised as cheeks, the herd of little naked midgets stomping in a circle humming I wish I was a little bit taller and no jocks, thank god, no jocks, boet. The kids looked like they were playing that game where you try hop, skip and dodge the cracks on the side walk, except in this case the cracks in the pavement were the cracked adults dancing in the face of the machines called to arms by Morpheus.
“I think I may have completely lost my marbles and I’m making no attempts to gather them. One might liken it to herding cats in the shadows of darkness, although, I shan’t be taking up such endeavours at this point, as dusk is about to dawn soon and I think I shall prefer howling at the moon.” – I found that little gem in my phone notes from the Friday night, while the jar of onion marmalade posing as my brain was trying to navigate my bike through hard sand and then soft sand and then rocks… Couldn’t work out if I was actually going through sand or my mind was going through a time warp.
When it starts reaching beyond the witching hour and you think it’s time to retreat to your tent, who thinks it’s a fun time to start playing Hide ‘n Seek, those masterful little sneaky fucker tents are rather good at the game, so, be aware of that. You may as well stop off at your newly found friends sites en route and 5am is as good a time as any to listen to Gums ‘n Noses and delve into our reason for being on the planet, the cosmos; listen to Rucha Right Now by Fatboy Vim and tackle the pitfalls of modern day communication, water shortages, the state of the nation, solve famine and eradicate war all in a matter of hours of free unadulterated speech and preaching. Except, when you get down to the brass tacks it’s just a bunch of white folks paying an obscene amount of money to starve, go off the grid, smell, live like peasants, clean up after themselves and bleat about calling it an awakening. Once you’ve tired yourself out from outlining the first draft mandate on the survival of the planet and all its peoples or if you’ve just simply had enough of the erratic garbage people are now spewing forth at this stage of the game, then it is time to tackle the most difficult part of your time at burn… Sleeping.
So, now you’re battling through your sleep, your eyelids are heavy weights that don’t seem to be a burden to bare for your thoughts, your tent has turned into the exorcism chamber for your demons of the night before, the sun blapping you on your forehead saying “wakey, wakey, time to rise and whine!” You’re sprawled out like Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man, just less balanced, half in your tent, half out trying to summon any kind of breeze Gods or nestle into some semblance of shade… Then my friends, then, then comes the dreaded Desert Shit Fit.
You will ALL have one at some stage, it’s inevitable, a rite of passage if you will. Mine came last year, on day 3 of sleep deprivation, Portuguese showers and when that slimey jol bug starts grumbling in your tummy… I was trying to sleep in my heat chamber when it hit me like a Tyson punch to the gut, so, you get up forlornly and trudge over to the now steaming shit pits awash with a swarm of flies… You’re trying to find the least disgusting one or one without a Red Flag (red flags, well, there’s too much human excrement in there so move along) retching and farting, squeezing your cheeks together, when you just cannot anymore. Finally, taking your seat on the Lord of the Flies Throne overlooking the dust, your colon working like someone slipped waterproof fireworks into a soft serve machine and you’re now resembling the poster child for the UNESCO adverts… Life is so super kiff at this point. You finish your business, ‘flush’ the shit pit with some sawdust, skulk back under the suns microscope from whence you came and begin the bitch fit:
“What the fuck am I doing here?!? Really?!? This is bullshit, these ‘toilets’ are fucking disgusting never in my fucking life?!? I paid A THOUSAND RAND FOR WHAT?!? Hey, for what?!? There’s something like nine to ten thousand people here, that amounts to almost nine to ten MILLION FUCKING RAND to dig a few holes, provide you with some sawdust and burn a few things?!?!? Really?!? The very least they could do is plant some grass or some trees or some shade or something. This is a National Park, a National Park of what?!? Rocks?!? Burn this place down, oh, wait, it will still look the same afterwards. They say they help this and help that and this costs this and that costs that, but who reads it hey?!? Who?!? It’s about as useful as the iTunes Terms & Conditions, nobody reads that crap, they’re robbing us blind!!! These people are supposed to be civilised, are you kidding me, all these fucking desert gypsies living in these deplorable conditions make me want to vomit, I hate this place, I hate my life, I want to go home!!!”
But, you finally calm down after tiring yourself out and lying in the shade parallel to your car sucking your thumb. 3pm comes along and you make yourself a Yakka and get back on that horse, because let’s face it there’s fuck all you can do about it… Join in or die a little crying baby in the sand. When you walk into that Binnekring again, seeing those smiles, the cheerful greetings by all the wonderful people passing you by, the genuine concern for their fellow man, the sunsets, the vibe, then nightfall comes and you’re catapulted into this mystical wonderland with miraculously gorgeous visuals…
“Fuck, I love this place, it’s incredible… Never in my life have I seen a place like this, honestly I never want to leave.”
AfrikaBurn, is a magical place, filled with fantastical moments and forming friendships of a lifetime. In the midst of my bitch fit, a friend said to me, “you know what? this is one of those experiences that you don’t know how incredible it is until you have time to reflect on it later.” My mind has digested the desert and I’m not going to say it’s life changing, I didn’t have an epiphany, my mind wasn’t altered, it didn’t change any of my life mantras… But what I can tell you is the friendships born when Thor drops his hammer with a sandstorm is where best friends are made, the hugs you give and receive will last a lifetime in memory, the gorgeous desert desserts your eyes feast on daily are more than words can describe, the scantily clad assortment of beautiful people, the community and genuine love people have for one another is a lesson that hopefully can spill over into our daily lives, the time and effort spent into making the whole experience what it is, is a labour of love. I cannot make you go, but I implore you, before you make your uneducated douchebag snide remarks like “cue the burn statuses” or “here comes the photo’s of AfrikaBurn to clog my newsfeed” or “here comes the enlightenment” to at least try it once… Don’t just stand there and watch us Burn.
I will forever look back fondly upon my time spent in the sand and will happily find my way back to the dust…
Do’s: Hug thy neighbour, help thy neighbour, open your mind to all that’s on offer, get a Bedouin, take a bicycle, dress up, view all the art on display, sleeping pills, be prepared, enjoy yourself!!!
Don’ts: Be a dick, hate on others’ version of a good time, think it’s a walk in the park, have the wrong attitude, leave a fellow burner in despair.