Destination Freedom: Plett Rage 2015

Fifteen thousand matriculants, fresh from exams and itching to let their hair down, flocked to Plettenberg Bay in the first week of December to let their inhibitions fly. Thirteen years in the running and Plett Rage is arguably the biggest student festival in the South Africa – and indeed what better way to celebrate your newfound, albeit short lived, freedom than by spending a week on Plett’s charming shores? Despite the certain stigma which has been attached to Plett Rage in the past, in the fact that it is often frowned upon as simply a raucous party encouraging ten days of bad behaviour, the organisers are working hard to transform that image to ensure Rage becomes a more integral constituent of the South African festival scene – and this year was a massive step in the right direction.

With 21 live acts – after the previous year’s 14 – as well as a dedicated transport system, Plett Rage appears to have pulled out all the stops when to came to organising this year’s event. Although unable to build upon the festival in a way that encourages people to return – Plett Rage isn’t the sort of thing you do more than once, unless of course you are a local – RK Events are approaching the expansion of the festival with more open minded manner. Appealing to a variety of interests will draw a larger crowd and this is exactly what Plett Rage’s aim is.

Perhaps the major attraction of the festival as a whole is the sheer volume and diversity of what Plett has on offer. With a variety of clubs to pick and choose from, including The Lot – the live music venue whose stage played host to some of our leading local lights as well as Dutch DJ Mike Williams, Plett Rage’s first international artist – Plettenberg Bay also exhibits a wide range of other activities to keep the Ragers occupied when they aren’t partying themselves into the sunrise.

Adopting a Destination Freedom lifestyle is the key principle of this festival. By day Central Beach is packed, sleep-deprived party goers hidden behind sunglasses search for a free patch of sand, cracked voices straining above the noise. A sea of slothful sun-tanners lounge beneath blue beach umbrellas with the ocean licking at their toes. To the right heady beats are pumping from beneath the Soviet Party Tent as The Kiffness take to the decks. To the left a queue of bikini clad babes wait to gain access to the overcrowded Beach Bar – into who’s sweltering, sweaty depths I ventured only twice. There is a yacht in the bay, thirty lucky Ragers being ferried back and forth between the Red Bull party on its deck and the shore. If you need some space from the crowds there is five kilometres of practically deserted beach stretching right to the foot of Robberg. Thrill seekers can either fling themselves out of a plane or off Bloukrans Bridge – it’s your choice.

As the sun dips towards the horizon town begins to buzz with increasing intensity. Plett Rage’s official pit stop before VIP Superclub and The Lot is Flashbacks, which ultimately is just the night time version of the Beach Bar, packed to the rafters, balcony railing straining. The adjacent street serves as the taxi rank as tens of yellow-stickered minibuses alternately load and deposit Ragers between town and VIP. Operating on a coupon system, the arrangement is incredibly well coordinated until day five when the festival reaches critical mass and I find myself caught in a stationary throng for an hour.

Photo credits to Tash Montlake

Photo credits to Tash Montlake

The Lot is the central focal point of Plett Rage: a massive white tent beneath which the main stage and an array of bars are scattered; wood chippings underfoot and plastic-wrapped hay bales give the area a fantastically outdoor-festival feel. The energetically bopping crowd who kick the festival off on Friday with Al Bairre and Desmond and the Tutu’s seems tame compared to the heaving mass it has grown to by day two. It is 3am on a Sunday morning and The Kiffness and iScream and the Chocolate Stix have joined Grimehouse on stage, there is a drum on the speakers and several burnt out Ragers lie scattered on the sidelines. From the elevated VIP platform to the right of the stage, the view of the thronging crowd is extraordinary.

Photo credits to Desmond Louw

Photo credits to Desmond Louw

I find myself at a Red Bull Mansion party early Tuesday evening witnessing a rare spectacle: Phfat playing a live set at a house party. The front deck is heaving with party goers, revved up on Red Bull and Rage. The makeshift stage is barely big enough to accommodate Mike and his long legs but this does little to kerb his infectious energy. It is quite something to watch as a crowd of fifty dance to “Jump”, with the lights of Plettenberg Bay unfurling below. Narch is dropping the beats like there is no tomorrow, a group of rowdy guys are arguing over the apparently complex rules of beer pong, and the many members of Grassy Spark are taking a breather on the couch before their rollicking set later that evening.

The multifaceted nature the festival exhibited this year provides the perfect platform for Plett Rage to grow on. Matrics of 2016 get ready for your trip to Destination Freedom!

 

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