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Visit the active LitNet platform at www.litnet.co.za

Vermaak | Entertainment > Musiek | Music > Artikels | Features > Oppikoppi 13 – The Way of the Dusty

Oppikoppi 13 – The Way of the Dusty

Riana Wiechers - 2007-09-04

Don’t bath unless people from distant campsites complain about the smell.
Don’t drink water: there are plenty of better choices we can suggest.
We are bringing back some chemical toilets (in addition to the camel thorn squadron) as there is not enough water to keep the flushables ticking over.
Maybe we can suggest not eating too much as well. (Survival Tips – www.oppikoppi.co.za)

It’s all over on Sunday morning, as the bushwhacked and bleary-eyed slowly regroup around the Kreef Hotel’s white plastic tables. Janis Joplin is offering another piece of her heart over crackly speakers, and in the far corner sits Wouter, an accountant from Pretoria. Silently washing his eggs down with an Amstel for old times’ sake, his festival mojo appears to have been left behind in the tent along with his three-foot-high jester’s hat. Opposite him sits Stevie, uncharacteristically meek without his trademark vuvuzela - confiscated by Chris Chameleon’s diminutive manager the night before.

At the bar, organiser Tania Kreef downs another Jägermeister with friends, the words “Aaag joup**sman” scrawled in fat, black letters across her forehead. “Same as last year,” she says. “As soon as I am officially off duty, they bring out the koki.” Three tables away Angola Badprop tucks into his peri-peri chicken livers alongside fellow hacks Toast Coetzer and Roof Bezuidenhout. Long-time festival co-organiser Misha Loots stops for a chat. “Four sets of backline through the main stage on Thursday night, man." He scratches his beard, grinning. “If I didn’t have to work, you wouldn’t catch me dead here.”

At midday on Women’s Day, 9 August, the parking lot of the only shopping centre in the small Limpopo town of Northam was abuzz with activity. With the by now customary roadblock a mere 100 metres in full view ahead, youngsters were standing around open car boots, seeking out nooks and crannies as they contemplated the odds of spending the first night of the festival in Northam’s police cells.

“I wouldn’t risk it, hey,” says a wild-haired chap who drove in from the festival for Grand-Pas. “They even checked my girlfriend’s tampons when she came through this morning.”

In die woorde van Danie Marias

It’s two hours before the first band takes to the stage, and dusty cars riding low with revellers, camping gear, braaivleis and beer are queueing up at the gates. Officially christened The Way of the Dassie by artist Max Normal, it is the 13th instalment of what had grown into the country’s biggest annual music festival. This year’s event, with a line-up featuring cult American folk-punk outfit Violent Femmes, British dance act Groove Armada and local artists Hip Hop Pantsula, Kidofdoom, 340 ml, Jitsvinger, Selaelo Selota, Karin Zoid, Fokofpolisiekar and about 90 others, has drawn a record crowd of more than 10 000 for the 9–11 August long weekend.

“Forty-one Oppikoppis between the four of us,” calculate Mack, Roland, Owen and Wayne over brunch beers on Saturday morning outside the boonste bar, situated on top of the hill overlooking the farm. Childhood friends who grew up together in Katlehong, their annual trek to the festival has become a boys-only tradition.

PhtseunA microlight aeroplane passes overhead. “Probably looking for his daughter,” quips photographer KuberKoos to Vetseun, who runs an independent music review website.

“Do you know (organiser) Carel Hofmann?” enquires Owen. “When his first daughter was born, the first thing he did was take out a Sundowns membership for her.”

Wayne breaks open a six-pack of Heinekens. “On the last day of the festival we have coffee with (owner) Boors in the farmhouse. He lies low while things are going, but he’s always interested to know how people experienced the festival.” Two tables away a man in a green monster mask with metres of toilet paper draped around his otherwise bare chest complains that his 23rd beer of last night was surely spiked.

Take an expanse of Bushveld farm, four stages, five drinking holes, a gazillion thorns of varying shapes and sizes and thousands of dirty revellers camping, dancing, drinking, shagging and (occasionally) sleeping in an ever-pervasive cloud of red dust, and you start getting the Oppikoppi picture. The days are hot and dusty, the nights chilly and laden with shots of Jägermeister, trips up and down two rather steep hills, chit-chat around fires, looking for and bumping into acquaintances and meeting a never-ending array of strange and wonderful creatures.

 Fokofpolisiekar is Best! “I've just overheard that the Violent Femmes wanted to meet Fokofpolisiekar after their show last night!” a breathless youngster announces to his hung-over friends who are trying to nap on the beer garden’s shady lawn.

“Do you realise that we were drinking for seventeen hours straight yesterday?” an angelic-faced woman in a floppy hat asks her friend as she puts down two double Vodkas and Orange in front of them. Next to her sits Fritz, an engineering student from Potch, worried that his mother might catch a glimpse of him snapped streaking around the campsite by a tabloid photographer the night before.

“Nooit man,” says his friend confidently. “Even if she sees your naked ass, she’ll never admit to having read that paper.”

“Just send them your CV,” says Bronson (30) from Jo’burg, in between fetching beers and pouring brandies for the thirsty masses at the bar just above the main stage. “The shifts are long but the pay is good.”

The Lost-and-Found tent is desolate by comparison. “Sometimes people come and hand in things, mostly cellphones” says Vivva from the neighbouring town of Swartklip - although the Oppikoppi website would have you believe otherwise: there is a lost and very-lost section at security. This new department has to be considered a long shot: we have not found anything in 12 years. At the first-aid tent next door, a medic sends a sunburnt girl clutching two headache pills on her way. “Keep out of the sun, okay? And stop drinking!”

 The general camping area, a wild frontier compared with the relative luxury of the Kreef Hotel (lock-up tents, hot showers, mattresses and buffet breakfasts at R1 400 pp, including a festival ticket), sees rough and ready festival-goers living on streets named Boomstraat, Frank Frost Freeway and SC Sibanda & Sons Street. Here a unique landscape of beer tin-budding thornbushes and toilet paper blossom trees unfolds alongside cars with dust-powdered windscreens, many of which sport realistic finger sketches of that old festival favourite, the male phallus.

Happeanis is Oppikoppi

“This place is crazy,” says Oppikoppi initiate Alex Fourie of Stellenbosch band Foto Na Dans. “This morning I woke up in a tent with eight strangers. I’m pretty sure I didn’t meet them last night.” He grins. “Dis cool. Dis belaglik.”

“I’m staying in Boomstraat - it’s my first time here!” shouts Chula (23) from Jo’burg over reggae band Tidal Waves’s "Lekker Lekker Dans".

“At first I wasn’t sure if I should come, I thought I might get tackled by rugby jocks!”

“Ons praat Afrikaans, want dis ‘n mooi en lekker taal!” exclaims singer Zakes Wulana from centre stage, before leaping head first into the rapturous crowd.

03687 days since the last time I gave a shit“I loved the The Kwani Experience,” continues Chula; “they brought joy to my heart. But next year I’d like there to be more showers. I’m so dirty, I’m the black equivalent of white trash!”

From the smaller koppie above the Sipho Gumede stage the crowd in front of the main stage can be seen gathering to see Koos Kombuis and the First National Band. The smell of braaivleis drifting from the pap and chakalaka stall on the left is drawing hungry punters to a queue which is beginning to snake down the hill.

Man ass“Who hasn’t showered yet?” shouts the MC from the stage below, and the crowd responds with a disconcertingly loud roar. A dust-smeared young man wearing only sneakers, black socks and a codpiece fashioned from security barrier tape and tinfoil staggers past. On his backside, the words “MAN ASS” are spray-painted in black.

The sounds of electro-industrial act Somerfaan rise dramatically from the stage behind. “Wat sal jy doen as jy ‘n spook sien?” asks singer At Nel. A lone voice pipes up from the crowd: “Ek sal hom naai!”

"Ah, Oppikoppi," says Anton, a businessman from Sandton wearing a beanie with the words "FOK JOU" embroidered across the front in big, red letters. "The kind of place that reminds you not so much who you are, but who else is out there."

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