Friday, January 31, 2014

Adventures at Rainbow Serpent Festival 2014:

 Hello all!

Last weekend (24th of Jan) I attended one of the largest music festivals in the Southern Hemisphere.

You may have heard of Rainbow Serpent, a psy-trance extravaganza of a Bush Doof, held annually just outside the rural Victorian town of Beaufort. If not here's a little background: Rainbow is a four-day long festival, usually running the length of the Australia-Day long weekend. It boasts an international line-up of artists, crafters and musicians, eccentric and unique markets (along with the usual commercial stuff). And also houses a lifestyle village complete with the Evolve Art Gallery, kid space, a few places/performances that focus on Aboriginal culture and history - along with world-class lasers, a dance-generated lightning machine, and the kind of decor that would make any party-pixie feel like they had come home at last.

photograph by Francesco Vicenzi

 On Thursday afternoon we headed out to Beaufort. Some in a car convoy, some on the train. Luckily I didn't have very far to travel, but, while waiting at the station for a lift out to the property that - by Saturday - would play host to over 20,000 people, I learned that some punters had traveled all the way from the UK, Europe, Asia - everywhere - purely for this weekend.

Tent City - a sheep farm becomes a home in the space of a few days.

The set-up and decor of the festival was amazing, spanning from the weird to the wonderful: Strings of fairy lights hung over the hammock hill (exactly what it sounds like, a hill full of hammocks where festival-goers could relax and vibe to the music), an enormous phoenix with glowing eyes designed and crafted by a South African artist hung over the market stage. Cubes full of neon string sat perched on branches and along the ground, the art was everywhere! Surrealist paintings lined the evolve gallery; a ride made from a hills hoist, bikes and fairy lights sat in the center of the festival (see video below for more detail), and stalls from businesses like Melbourne's Electric Lycra Land lined the areas between stages.

Watching Blaze poi

Aside from the music, one of my favourite things about Rainbow was the collective effort everyone from the organisers to the attendee's had put in to make everyone's experience fantastic: From the costumes to the campsites, to the fact that everyone you passed was smiling, and happy to smile at you as well - it was a very positive experience.

In my mermaid costume on the dancefloor
I am someone who does not do well in crowds; however there were moments at Rainbow where I knew I could be alone, dancing in the crowd, or reading, or doing nothing at all, and feel completely safe. I saw some awesome sets at the Market, Playground, Sunset and Chill Stages (the Chill stage was possibly my favourite, I fell asleep listening to Banco De Gaia on Sunday night). From Melbourne artist Staunch, to DJ Krusty, the Funk Hunters and a surprise set by Dub Fx!

Watching the main stage

 Saturday night was the main opening ceremony; this included an Aboriginal smoke ceremony to open the main stage, which was followed up with some intense psy-trance artists such as Terrafractyl.

I wasn't too keen on getting into the Dancefloor on Saturday night, so I sat on the hill (pictured above) and watched dance energy beating life into a lightning conductor. Yes, you read that correctly: So much energy is created by dancing at the main stage that it makes lightning.

An awesome bucket list collective at Rainbow

After a four nights of music, dancing, and dying over costumes  however I was certainly ready to leave (and SHOWER). Although it was sad to say goodbye, I felt proud of myself for managing to be around over 20,000 people and so far outside my comfort zone for four nights. I also felt pretty healthy on Monday considering I'd been out in 30+ degree (celsius) heat, eating camping food and sleeping on a yoga mat.

Rainbow's lost some fans over the last few years, and has been accused of becoming 'too commercial' - I could certainly see that side of it; I was disappointed there wasn't as much emphasis on Aboriginal culture and the lifestyle/art village as there was on partying, but it was still an amazing experience and one I'm excited to repeat again next year. There's not too much else to say, you've got to shell out the $300.00 and experience it for yourself! So I'll leave you all with photos and a video to try and explain; watch, look and enjoy - maybe you'll be inspired to attend!

Between two hills; my main observation of the site was 'it's like the Rainbow Serpent actually slid through here, forming the space'.

Smashing that d-floor - thanks whoever took this!

Waiting at the train station (photo courtesy of my friend Jasmine)

XO, Ellen