Electro music, a beautiful summer’s day, a backdrop of Table Mountain and thousands of bags of coloured powder: the ingredients for a great party.
Saturday saw South Africa’s first Holi One festival take place in Cape Town. Ten thousand party goers, dressed in white, descended on the Grand Parade from 12pm and danced to Djs while throwing up bags of rainbow-coloured powder every hour, on the hour. As I walked through the gate, a little after 3pm, I was hugged by strangers and had powder thrown in my hair because I was the only person around not covered in colour. This was a sign that it was going to be a good day.
Holi is an annual festival celebrated by Hindus in India to mark the beginning of the spring, during which normal inhibitions and social norms are lowered as revellers throw coloured powder at each other on the streets. The global Holi One festivals, which have been held in Germany, the USA and Singapore, are not directly linked to the religious festival but are inspired by it and its values of love, peace and communal celebration.
These appeared to be in abundance at the Grand Parade. There was something about the powder that set this apart from any other festival I’ve been to – it was more than just cool music on a sunny day. Perhaps it was a childlike sense of fun that pervaded the party, or the fact that everyone ended up looking the same by the early afternoon, or that seeing thousands of vibrant mini-rainbows explode into a cloud above the dancing crowd under Table Mountain made you feel blissfully happy. Maybe all of those. Whatever it was, I didn’t see one person that day who wasn’t laughing or smiling. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that many people have fun in one place before (other than in the playground at pre-school).
I can’t wait until next year!
The Jo’burg Holi One festival takes place on 6 April 2013 at Emmarentia Dam. Tickets cost from R190 and are on sale at www.webtickets.co.za, at The Street store in Greenside (135 Greenway Road) and in Braamfontein (70 JutaStreet), and at the gate (if the festival doesn’t sell out). Bags of powder are R20 each and can be bought at the event. The Cape Town festival sold out the week before so don’t leave it to the last minute to buy your tickets! For more information go to http://www.holione.com/johannesburg.
1. Bring wet wipes for strategic face cleaning and eye wiping (see point 2).
2. Wear glasses or goggles. Powder in the eyes is not that rad.
3. Bring a facemask or a scarf to cover your mouth. The powder looks great but tastes like crushed Panado.
4. Arrive early – you can’t see the clouds of colour once the sun has gone down.
5. Don’t expect to colour co-ordinate. I overheard a girl in the beer tent saying she only wanted pink on her. If that’s your vibe, then you should go to a Rubik’s cube party instead.
6. If you take a camera (especially an SLR), cover it in plastic. The powder is fine and gets into cracks and lenses.
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