Another Year, Another Energetic Exchange
Smoking dragon is the best festival I’ve attended in South Africa – despite that fact that everything that could’ve gone wrong happened. How does that happen you might wonder, well let me tell you.
DAY ONE – An Act Of God
The first day was marked by thunder, hail, an amazing display of lightning and with these acts of God came a systems crash which rendered most vendors unable to transact and no data coverage. I had over R2k loaded into my wristband but had to resort to my favourite currency – trade and barter for drinks. One of our contingent was even overheard at the bar exchanging rare entheogens and local fungi for drinks. This little act of God accidentally created a gift economy within the festival, a vital ingredient to transporting you out of the default world and into these festival worlds.
DAY TWO – Connecting With Roots
Second day started with an excursion out to the big tree, a pilgrimage of sorts and we arrived to find a little tribe frolicking below the tree who helped kick the day into gear by exchanging some rather potent psycilocybe cubenses amazon for some champagne. With fungi and champagne activated in the system I went on to voyage deeper into the festival. After sunset I headed straight to the ‘home’ tent which was playing hip hop and serendipitously reconnected with an awesome tribe I partied with at Afriski festival. I danced till the sun came up with these peeps and the energy on the dancefloor was reminiscent of a supernatural vibe I felt in North America – meeting old acquaintences from festivals past is another door that seems to transport me into a festival world and the timing of those meetups oftens seems summoned and almost scripted – makes you feel like you’re in an active and waking dream. We ventured to the mainstream stage when BCUC brought on the spirits of ancestors and during the awakening ritual I knew I had found South Africa’s own Shambhala. Not enough can be said about this group, and they are easily my new favourite band in the entire world. After a 20 min session that blew the minds off everyone who participated, the lead singer announced “alright, sound check done, now lets start playing music” and the entire crowd burst into a frenzy. They knew how to work a group of people, kinda like The Roots but in my opinion much better and the only other artist I’ve seen do this to a crowd although a completely different genre was Bassnectar.
Every real festival I go to I meet a girl who behind her eyes there exists a supreme intelligence, something uncommon, kinda alien and almost like a knowing wink. They’re often seem to be dancers. Anyways I don’t want to say that if aliens existed they’d probably attend festivals, but wouldn’t that be a form of extra terrestrial tourism if aliens existed? They probably even have their own shambhalas and we’ve been doing shambhala’s and festivals since the dawn of man, it has always brought us together and celebrates the best versions of ourselves and for The Initiated it’s a great way to download or even upload information. Anyways maybe she was just a good kisser but the third day was kickstarted by lumming around in the pool and meeting this crew who would become my festy fam for the third day and an amazing journey through each others minds that culminated in sitting above a giant hay bale as a dragon sculpture burned behind us and the stars & moon hummed above. From a music point of view once again the mainstream stage was outperforming any stage in the country that night, and Bombshelter beast blended every genre of South Africa into a powerful performance. I can still hear the Cape Malay Afrikaans “my boyfriend is a hussler” soliloquy in my head. This was the perfect ending to a festival that overcame the Babylonian problems of not being able to access your internet or money but instead put on an awe inspiring elemental show that provided the perfect backdrop to shedding the skin of 2017 and moving into 2018 with Grace.
Thanks Smoking Dragon, see you next year.