The Flamjangled Tea Party (March 18-20, 2011)
One Thursday night, my friend Matt asked me if I wanted to go to a music festival with him called the Flamjangled Tea Party. My response? “You had me at Flamjangled.” The following morning we ate some cheesy eggs and took off at 10 A.M. Our journey was lengthy and wrought with complications. We transferred three times to different minibuses, from Rondebosch to Cape Town to Belville to Durbanville. At one point we were packed like sardines with 23 people in one minibus (with only 15 seats)! Upon our arrival in Durbanville, we were perplexed as to how we would find the remote Contermanskloof wine farm on which Flamjangled was being held. After speaking with a number of drivers relaxing around the taxi rank, we finally found one willing to escort us on the next leg of our journey. Finding this secluded farm was not easy, but it was worth the difficulty. Some say the journey’s more important than the destination. I encourage you to make that journey a creative one.
The grounds were surrounded by a mass of tents and trailers. Past this circumference we entered a little gypsy-merchant village, if you will. There were food kiosks: gourmet crepes, boerwors rolls (the SA streetfood specialty), lamb sandwiches, ice cream and more.
There was a top hat store managed by a magician/philosopher who recited a series of treatises on the subject of mirth. He wasn’t the only one speaking in riddles that weekend.
If you didn’t come already dressed as a madhatter, the costume collective provided festival-goers with proper embellishment for their attire—one could become a fairy, an angel, a devil, a ladybug, a clown. Or combine articles to become robotsharkninjajanitorbaby! The Best-Dressed contest on Saturday featured the most outstanding of abnormally large kitty cats, milkmaids, elephant operators, and whatthef@#$ was that?s.
In the main circle there stood the stage, a stocked bar, and grandiose decorations. The theme was colorfulosity and fantasticism, a brew of circus revelry, Alice and Wonderland, and hippy-flower-love sure to make you grin and question your sanity.
Beyond this circle was a small dam. Adults waded into the water to cool off while the kids splashed around and wrestled on the inflatable water castles. The children were plentiful at the festival. For them this strange place was a fantasty-fun-land where they could run free from their parents to embark on magical adventures. They provided a cheerful atmosphere and inspired a welcomed childish whimsy in all their seniors.
Descend the hill bordering the lake and you found the second stage where “trance parties” (as they call electro dance parties/mini-raves in SA) were held afterhours. The lights in this tented stage were vivid…psychadelic. My world swirled in a harlequin daze as I practiced a dragonfly dance to the gypsy techno beats. At one point a purple-wigged girl performed an old-fashioned striptease on stage. Sexy and fun! These trance parties lasted until the early morning.
In addition to this gypsy techno/trance—whatever you want to call the “Papa Americano” style—the music encompassed many genres: dub-reggae, rock, folk, traditional African jams, experimental electro, etc. The dancing was characteristically of the gypsy/hippie/tribal style. Saturday night was the “fabulous Foxtrot Fandango,” in which a renowned Dixieland jazz band called the Dixie Swingers performed and two professional dancers taught the crowd the Foxtrot. It was beautiful to see couples and strangers alike drop their reservations to try something new and have a good time.
My favorite performance, however, was by the Italian duo of Francesca and Ricardo. This music is different. This music is amazing. Ricardo is a mastermind of synthesizers, the didgeridoo, hand percussion, and drum machines (his main drum machine happens to be a very primitive children’s toy!). Francesca sings and manipulates her vocals with a delay/effects pedal. While the songs in their set might have basic, predetermined structure, melodies, and lyrics, every time they evolve differently. This duo is always improvising; they even make a conscious attempt to incorporate accidents into their music. It is clear that their art is drawn from the soul.
For Matt and me, these three days were something out of this world. Both nights we slept out in the open air on a blanket and woke up thirsty for more flamjanglejuice. Never had we experienced something like this. In fact, beforehand I wasn’t sure such a thing existed. It was a music and art festival but also a party, a wonderland, a fairytell, a utopia for a society of modern hippies/intellectuals/jesters/lovers of life. It was a world that satisfied anyone who wanted to enjoy the more fantastical and humorous side of life. Not a sliver of ill feeling penetrated the festival’s friendly force field. The Flamjangled website describes it as the following: “a festival, outdoors, different, eclectic, artistic, humorous, glittering, freaky, funky, jiving, up-beat, jazzy, swinging, sizzling, folksy, rock n rollin’, wonderful, gentle, silly, naughty and great.” Yet, I feel that no real words capture its essence. Only fanciful ones. Flamjangled is a flamjangly paradosium, wackallacky gymnastelation, livitupitus hugfluppy, gagspladgious tumblumblum!!!
This is what it is all about—living life creatively.
Check out a full set list and more at:
Check out Francesca and Ricardo. Their group is currently called Legoloop and Ricardo’s solo name is TribalNeed.
Tribalneed @ The Assembly in Cape Town:
Francesca and Riccardo at Flamjangled
May 11, 2011