Author: Dominik Riedl
South Africa without a doubt, is one of the biggest, most beautiful & scenic must-see wonderlands regarding Psytrance festivals in the world today. A psychedelic cultural melting pot, with a history & heritage as rich & diverse as the party goers attending its festivals nowadays.
Over the last 10 years specifically, the Psytrance culture in South Africa has grown & bloomed into a wide-spread phenomenon, attracting new curious faces to the scene every year. In the beginning when it first originated here in 1995/1996, psytrance events were subjugated to the underground within Cape Town or Johannesburg, where advertising was at an absolute minimum, and only the people “in the know” knew where to find the festivals.
Now over 2 decades later and the intervention of social media, that underground stigma has long since passed, and the psytrance scene has evolved & spread locally, not only across all corners of the mother city, Cape Town, but now more Psytrance parties can now be found all the way up the garden route of Knysna, up the east coast to Port Elizabeth & Durban (who both hold beautiful intimate festivals within forests & coastal beaches), and inland towards Johannesburg, who’s Psytrance scene has truly exploded over the last few years, hosting a number of festivals anywhere from the foot of the Magaliesberg Mountains, to the corner of the Vaal River, or even along the Tsitsikamma River.
Obviously, Cape Town still stands its ground as the local psytrance epicenter in the scene, hosting an outdoor festival almost each weekend during its summer season, which starts at the beginning of September & ends usual around May. Venues used for festivals (albeit in short demand recently, due to local government venue restrictions), can range anything from hidden forest settings, winelands & farms, to beach venues across most of all our local coastlines. In between the festival madness, you can find countless indoor Trance parties weekly, with local club organisers covering almost each suburb/district with their own choice styles of psy to cater for the party stompers…if you are into Psytrance, and you are in Cape Town, look no further!
Without a doubt, with so many new faces (both young & old) coming & enjoying the Psy vibrations together while attending these events, the Psytrance scene in South Africa has never looked more healthy, diverse and colorful.
Over the years, the local sound of Psytrance associated usually with South Africa would have been full force Night-time Fullon, led by names such as Shift, Phyx, Hydraglyph, Artifakt, Lost & Found, Slug, Xatrik, Rabdom L, Tickets & many more. Since then many of those producers have moved on with their personal careers, while others still perform on occasion at select festivals. From their influence, more recent local producers such as Frozen Ghost, Zion Linguist, Rubix Qube, Hiyarant, Deliriant, Disco Volante, & EMP have taken control, while still paying homage to the unique sound created by those pioneering SA Twilight producers before them. Dark Psy, Forest, & Hi-Tek Trance are still considered probably the most underground sound performed at festivals in SA (likewise with Dark Prog), but through that, there are still specially catered events to suit these listeners, especially at certain events in Johannesburg and along the garden route to Port Elizabeth, and with that big name producers such as Paralocks, Fright Rate, Highstyle, Paster Jon, Telepathy, Killawatt, & Highawattska continue to create and innovate this evolving style of psy. With Progressive Trance & uplifting Fullon being bigger than ever down in SA, local producers such as Headroom, Broken Toy/ Sad Paradise, The Commercial Hippies, Humerous & SiLo, iTone, Zezia & others continue to perform on a frequent basis, while local DJ’s such as Bruce, Tune Raider, & Dave Mac, DJ Mark (Expo Records), Archive, Jester, SwiTchCache, & Sonic continue to perform & inspire the new upcoming emerging DJ talent. As in all scenes worldwide, technology has evolved & from that controllers & traktor laptop usage has become more prominent over the years, meaning many new up ‘n coming DJ’s have emerged, thus diluting the scene a bit from it’s original creators, but the established names who have compromised and fought through the local organiser politics still remain prominent on the party rosters, and that can be seen at some of the festivals, who still maintain that balance of both new & old talent performing.
South Africa acts as home to the #1 Psytrance label in the world (according to beatport), and a brand that has become synonymous with quality daytime productions across the globe, Nano Records! Other locally run labels such as Nexus Media, MMD, Timecode, Kaos Krew, & Psyology, continue to release frequently, cultivating new local & international talent, while newer labels such as Expo Records & PSR Music have emerged to fill the gap on the daytime Fullon & Progressive Trance market.
When you think of Cape Town Trance parties, no 2 bigger promoter names come to mind than Alien Safari & Vortex. Collectively hosting 7 huge festivals across the summer season, these 2 productions act as the corner stone to what has become a massive cultural party shift. Alien Safari kicks off the season with the “Sprung Festival”, followed by “Tribe Festival” in December, followed by their massive “Rezonance NYE Festival”, and ending their summer on their “Masqued Ball Festival” in February. Amazing decor, majestic venues, and hosting some of the biggest local & international artists in the Psytrance game today…satisfaction guaranteed! Vortex aimed towards the longer journey offers 3-5 day long festivals over December (Vortex Open Source), & the Easter Vortex Parallel Universe, both holding serious footing as the top productions of all season. From perfect camping/parking logistics, forest venues & decor, to their top lineups, it’s hard to find a better party in South Africa. As well as continuing to release their full roster of chart-topping artists, Regan & Monique of Nano Records also handle the Cape Town Earthdance Festival in September, as well as hosting their annual Origin Festival (end of January), both widely thought of events in the Cape Town Psy calendar. Other productions in Cape Town include the Jungala Festival (headed up by Psyology Records, who also host their annual Record Label festival), along with Equinox Experience, The Village, Ultranoize, Altered States, and the 2 Organik Festivals (Gaian Dream & Love Project), all together collectively coming together to offer party goers and “stompaholics” a non-stop buzz of events to attend all season long. Filling in the gaps between festivals, is a non-stop party calendar of club events across the whole of Cape Town, namely: In the CBD area the Spectrum/Reboot events (now held at the Bazinga Bar) host events twice a week, and is a staple in the nightlife of the stomper; In the northern suburbs, Ultranoize not only host their outdoor festivals, but have carved their name into party-goers’ hearts through their unique warehouse parties that happen in the center of an industrial village. Other indoor events include Pulse hosting their bi-weekly events at known stomping ground, The Nameless Pub in Somerset West; and representing the Southern suburbs is Valley of Psy with their events happening every month at the Bush Pub. In Johannesburg names such as Revolution NYE, Twilight, One Fest, Tswaing Crater, all host quality events and tend to showcase many fresh venues across the region, while promoters like Technotribe & Underground Sound wave the Psy flag during their winter. Up along the garden route, one can find intimate well-organised gatherings by productions such as Wacky Woods, Aloe Roots, Freaky Forest, & Astral Afrika, ranging in all genres of psychedelic sounds, not just the contemporary Fullon psy accustomed to other festivals across SA. Even though the newest to have events in its region, Durban hosts its own unique intimate psytrance gatherings as well, with productions involved such as Festival of Light, Psyphoria, & AmaDeadly Productions proudly representing & expanding the scene to many new listeners & party goers there.
More Deco artists:
More deco artists from this country: South Africa is home to Carin Dickson, owner of the world renowned decor specialists, Artescape. Masters of multi-dimensional psychedelic art installations and visual landscapes, Carin has traveled the globe with her craft decorating festivals, from Universo Paralello, to Boom Festival, to the Ozora Festival. So it goes without any surprise, that the Artescape psychedelic touch hits most of the big festivals across SA throughout the season. Other local designers involved in the scene include Atmosphere Decor, Cortex Design, & Luminos Decor, and they all add their unique spin on their creations & installations.
Styles range from Minimal, Psytech, Progressive Trance & Uplifting Fullon in the early evening & early afternoon, to styles such Night time Fullon, Forest/Dark psy, & occasionally Hi-Tek during the night towards the early twilight period of the morning.
When parties are starting? When they are closing or have to close?:
Usual run time for an outdoor festival in South Africa is 24 hours, meaning the event will start around 4pm on for example Saturday, and end 4 or 5pm Sunday. If the event is longer (such as Vortex Festivals), the event will start same time at 4pm and 72+ hours later until the event ends 4 or 5pm. For club parties, the music can start at 9pm & depending on the entertainment license, can end any time between 2am and 6am.
Are there clubs that open in the morning, is it easy to find one, do peoples have open private afterhours…:
In the case of a big festival (especially in Cape Town), some smaller club promoters may host an “Afterparty” for the evening after the music at the festival stops, and they may in some cases even offer a discounted entrance to the afterparty to people still having their festival armband…it all depends on the festival and the club promoter.
Tell us about prices. Average entry for a party (small – mid – big-sized), beer, water etc.:
On average party goers will be paying anything from 25-35€ for a festival ticket (which could be raised to around 50€ for a 3-5 day festival), excluding travel & party costs. Club events, depending on the club or event, can be anything 5-15€ for entrance.
Are there traffic controls after parties / festivals, which kind of tests are used?:
As the local party scene has grown exponentially over the last few years, government intervention has become a factor, although not serious (provided you behave!). Roadblocks can usually be found outside/ near the venue before & after the event takes place, using alcohol breathalyzer tests, and sometimes with a possible K9 unit on standby for illegal substances. Contrary to many other countries, the local police are here to help, not cause trouble, so keep things friendly & polite and all should be fine.
For anyone wondering Cape Town in the night, looking for some pizza with a psy twist, stop into Call-a-Pizza in Sea Point. They offer a menu completely dedicated to Psytrance, with a huge variety of pizza toppings, with pizza names like “Skazi”, “Nano”, “Alien Safari” covering even vegetarians needs…hint: try the MMD pizza! Psytrance listeners in Cape Town get their weekly psy fix every Friday morning, 6-9am live with Mr Meyer hosting the “Friday Psyday” Show on Bush Radio 89.5 FM (also available online for streaming). The show features guest live mixes & interviews with local psy producers & DJ’s making waves in the scene, and sometimes even features some international guests. Great way to kick off your weekend.
Best places for activities:
South Africa is a haven of extramural activities, ranging from scenic strolls through the many garden route forests; wild game safari’s in the Kruger National Park, in Johannesburg; and in Cape Town doing things like hiking up Lion’s Head, exploring the many different wineyards in Stellenbosch, or just casually walking along one of our many beaches. For the adventure junkies, South Africa offers a multitude of different activities across the country to keep you entertained. From cage diving with great white sharks in Kalk Bay, bungee jumping off the highest bridge in the world, at the Bloukraans Bridge, abseiling of the back-end of Table Mountain, sky diving across many locations across SA, to climbing inside some of our countries most ancient caves, such as the Cango Caves in Oudtshoorn.
Best place to stay:
When staying in South Africa, its best to always check online for local accommodation in the area. There are loads of “Backpackers” hostels around that offer comfortable affordable lodging, over staying in a hotel. In the case of the garden route, there are a lot of smaller self-service cottages & houses that are available to rent, and usually shops are in the surrounding area.
Best place to eat:
In Cape Town there are countless restaurants & eateries to appease any & all’s gastronomic desires. For a relaxed bohemian-styled atmosphere, head to places like “Rafikkis”, “Lefty’s”, or “Neighborhood” in the CBD, or to “Pakololos” along the Blouberg beachfront for some awesome chilli poppers & sundowners. For the serious meat lovers, make sure to visit “HQ Restaurant” or the “Nelson’s Eye” in Cape Town CBD, along with “Sir Loin” in Brackenfell for some of the best steaks in town, at an affordable price. For fans of fish, head down to Southern suburbs to popular hangout spots along the Indian Ocean such as “Brass Bell”, “The Black Marlon”, or “Boulder’s Restaurant”. And for the burger fans, “Hudsons Bar” in Kloof Street & “Roccomamas” in Durbanville are both guaranteed the tallest, juiciest, char-grilled burgers you can get. Other places that cater to vegetarians as well include: Plant Café, Anna Purna Café in Tiger Valley, “The Indian Oven” in Hout Bay, & newly opened “Scheckter’s RAW Gourmet” in Sea Point.
The leading psychedelic trance music portal in South Africa, used by fans, artists, and event organisers around the globe. Up to date news on events, local parties, prizes and giveaways, fresh releases, and exclusive mixes from producers & DJ’s from around the world.
MyCityByNight is a premier website that is the who, what, where and when of nightlife, events, entertainment, lifestyle and more in Southern Africa. Also offer special giveaways and host some fascinating interviews with local & internationals highlighting the scene.
Headed up by long time standing local Psytrance DJ, Dave Mac, IDM Mag is South Africa’s definitive electronic music publication. News, interviews, and event info from across South Africa, specifically aimed towards the EDM sound of music.
Definitely a feature completely unique to South Africa is our “braai’s”(which is a local term for a wood-styled open flame BBQ). Go anywhere in South Africa, and the residents will be able to cook up a storm of local meat & vegetables, such as our popular sausage called “boerewors”, which comes in many different flavors depending where you are. If you are in Cape Town and want a truly authentic braai, make sure to head to the popular butchery & grill, “Mzoli’s” in Gugulethu, for a traditional African braai experience.
His/Her role in the Psytrance community:
As mentioned, I’ve been a DJ in the scene since the early 2000’s, DJing under the name “Archive”. In 2005, I co-founded, together with Laurence Sonnenberg (Zion Linguist) local Night Time Fullon label, MMD Records (short for Mind Manipulation Device), and we have signed & released artists from all corners of the globe for over a decade. Having stopped our own MMD outdoor festivals in 2014, we continue to enjoy releasing new music from both fresh new artists, and the more established night time pioneers, thus keeping our unique sub-genre of Psytrance alive, kicking, & inspiring the upcoming generation.
Info about the author:
I’ve been attending Psytrance events across South Africa since 1999, and hooked by the unique frequencies it brought out, I started DJing actively since 2002. I’ve witnessed the many style changes at festivals over the years, as well as noticing many new sub-genres opening within it. But without a doubt, our special unique venues for festivals put us up there with the biggest & best productions in the game today!
Night Time Fullon/ Twilight Psytrance