AfrikaBurn 2017: Play Around the Clock

I have been asked by a few people to write something about my impressions of AfrikaBurn. It was the first time I went, and well, yes, I guess there are a few impressions.

The long and short … I’m not really sure where to begin. 🙂

There have been people who have complained about many things since the event ended: loud music 24/7 (no shit), the end-state of the public portaloos and pit toilets (13 000 people + 7 days = lots of shit, you didn’t realise? That said, those portaloos were quite challenging towards the end… Mercifully, our camp rented our own loo for the week, best investment in a long time!), the prolific drug use (indeed astounding, but not an absolute, there were many not on drugs), the ice queue (the fact that there even is an ice facility is impressive), seemingly slack health and safety measures (can anyone give me a “self-reliance”?), the MOOP, matter out of place (well, possibly the only complaint I am happy to support).

Seems there are those who think AfrikaBurn is just a really big and super remote Vortex party. Ah, no. From what I picked up, it’s a bit more than that. It’s about cutting ties with our day-to-day, constructed society, and digging into those bits we hide or even suppress. For a short week you can push your boundaries as far as you like, and learn a few things about yourself in the process. What that is, is up to you. Personally, I would gladly see more activities at the Burn that include the traditional arts (such as the electronic violin-player and the piano concert at the San temple) but for an insomniac, I slept pretty well at the Burn despite the constant music. I daresay even better than I do at home.

Then there are the drugs. You have a choice to take them or not, but so do the folk who are as wired as all fuck. I can’t say I think they’re making wise life choices, but that’s their choice. On some level, they know it. Rather be helpful, if you see a new Burn friend off their face, give them water to help them stay hydrated. They’re not going to magically sober up because you’re frowning at them. Be nice.

And then there was the general vibe. Sure, I didn’t see all 13 000 people that attended, but in the five days that I was at AfrikaBurn, I didn’t see one person who was grumpy or aggressive. My kind of party! Some folk enjoy parties with a bit of free brawling, I like parties with them happy, hug-filled and smiled-out vibes.

The bit that really gripped me, was the self-expression. Nobody at AfrikaBurn actually cares what you do. Well, perhaps the complainers. But whether they really care, is a whole different story. I digress. What a jol radical self-expression is! I kept my own wonderfully erratic clock. I woke up at 3am one morning only to go and see what’s going on. And went to sleep a few hours later, woke up a few more hours later and so on and so forth. I learned how to make an impromptu dust mask within seconds after being caught off guard in my first dust storm (it’s real and relentless). It was so hot the one day that I discarded my jean shorts and walked around in my knickers and tutu instead. Not one eyelid batted. The amazing art people created! The time they took to think up the things they displayed for everyone to see, then to get all the material together, the crew to build it, and then to actually cart to the Tankwa and build such lovely things. Such ridiculous generosity. It made me realise I need to step up my game and get more creative. Stat. It also made me think that while there were a few nudists around, that was their form of self-expression. I realised that for me, it doesn’t seem like a particularly creative form of self-expression, but certainly takes you back to your roots and cleans the slate. As my one friend observed, it helped him sort out a few body image issues. And that’s pretty neat in this perfection-obsessed world we live in! Me, I like the imagination part of self-expression. That’s where the fun stuff lies. And that is where I need to get cracking.

Yggdrasil, the Tree of Life, was a work of absolute beauty, passion and genius. I loved watching it, interacting with it and then was sad to see it burn down. But that’s the whole thing. Don’t hold on to anything lest it holds on to you. Keep the precious things in your heart, where they belong.

The word I used when people ask me: “How was it?” Random. But it was remarkable the way this randomness flowed. Man! It was wonderful. The chaos that Goethe speaks of, the chaos that is intricately related to the creative process.

To those who left MOOP all over the Playa and in other people’s camps. Shame on you! Unless you can house train yourself in the next year, I suggest you either stay away, or bring someone along who can look after you, as you are no doubt accustomed. The thing I saw most MOOPed was stompies (cigarette butts), despite stompie dildos being handed out at Die Hek. It was spectacularly gross to pick those up.

Anyway, despite the MOOP and complainers, I want to go back. Reality sucks and is dull as dishwater. But it does pay the bills. Maybe I just need less bills. And more fuck-it, fun and creative outlets. I certainly showed myself that I can live on very little, if only for five days. Surely, therein again, lies the rub. Less is more.

There is a lot more I can mention, and discuss, but that will just make this post very long! There are many stories and wonderful photos on Facebook and other social media, to give you a bigger idea of the whole thing.

I still have much to think about and to learn.


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