Our last minute decision to go to Daisies is the best one we’ve made all year. With the car crammed and last minute shopping done by 12PM, we hit the road. The drive was short and we were in high spirits when we hit the line of cars waiting to get into the festival. Friends who had left in the wee hours had got in, no problem, this line (and the subsequent wait) was unexpected but less painful than we initially thought – some people passed the time dancing beside their cars and running along the line to find their friends. Clashing ballads blaring from dusty, too-full Polos. The grassy ditches on either side were dotted with men (and a few brave ladies) relieving themselves after the +-2 hour drive. All providing entertainment for us meeker festival goers, as yet unaware of what to expect. We used the opportunity to crack open a cold drink and get started on the snacks. The traffic all seemed to be stemming from a set of police cars stopping very few cars and scaring the shit out of the rest of us with their mere presence. Good times.
Once we had crossed the police line the sense of anarchy was palpable. Kids tired of being cramped in the back seat took to hanging, limbs and bums out, from passenger windows (and for one brave guy – splayed on the car bonnet). After an hour in bumper to bumper traffic, we got to the forks where the traffic subsided somewhat and we realised there was a separate (empty) lane for crew – fuck yes. We motored past general public victorious however this victory was short lived and we weren’t checked in for another 3 hours due to some error on the new system (in keeping with the “new year, new ticketing system” mantra) – which had already been wreaking havoc for hours that day and the day before. We watched the sun set while we (finally) registered and a strong icy wind came up in time for us to pitch our tent.
Crew camping was everything you could imagine and more, we had our own toilets, our own showers and (best of all) considerate neighbours – individuals who were here to graft and were sleeping when they weren’t grafting. Visiting our friends in general camping made us aware there are still many logistical issues plaguing the event, though – you just can’t have “too many” toilets.
With our car parked (very conveniently close to our camp site) and our tent pitched, we set off in the direction of the music and the crowds. There wasn’t much to see on Thursday night, some stages weren’t set up yet and most of the grounds were closed to the public. We spent the night with friends and wound our way back up the hill in the wee hours. On Friday we awoke to the sounds of rock music and coffee grinding. Crew bar had no lines, tables to sit around and even a place to charge your kit – just be sure to bring your own cup for your flat white.
General camping was an endless display of scantily clad (despite the freezing cold) teens in crocheted crop tops and boys and girls in equally short shorts and mostly there was a good vibe and minimal disturbance (so long as you’re not disturbed by 24/7 music and drunk matric jersey-clad rugby jocks chanting the anthems of their alma maters accompanied by the sight of said rugby jocks sipping from their sneakers the morning after). Yes. It was permanently teeming with bodies and the vendors had their hands full round the clock with lines for food and drink. The Howler cashless system worked fabulously and topping up was quick and super easy – with lots of tents dotted around the event. Kudos to Daisies. Tapping my bracelet to pay made me feel like some kind of spy and also like I wasn’t actually “paying” anything. Ingenious. The food was well priced and there was something for everyone (we survived on Tao’s Dim Sumand Didi’s Bitchin’ Burritos). Drinks were equally well priced (as long as you stuck to the drinks sponsors like Red Bull and Black Label – which some tents had run out of come Saturday night). “Regular” drinks (spirits and a mix) could set you back as much as R80 per drink (yikes!) *squints at balance on fancy cashless wristband reader. Beer it is. Moving between stage areas was controlled and no alcohol from camping was allowed in. Pure money making genius. The bag checking caused a bottleneck of note near the gate and the “no alcohol beyond this point” sign had people visibly making the aching decision whether to chug or ditch their drinks (you can guess which took precedent) in order to follow the hordes to the stages.
The crowd at the festival was electric and it was hard not to have a good time (even if you were just people watching at the charging station). Watching people letting their hair down and having a grand time was infectious. There was hula hooping, giant Jenga and even a tightrope to try your hand – feet? – at. Our days were spent between the EDM/ Techno dome, Lemon Tree theatre and Twos Up stage without exception – moving and jiving to the dance and hip hop music respectively. The Lemon Tree theatre staged a carnival procession throughout the day on Saturday which equally delighted and stunned the crowd (see the Giant Lady walking her “Poodle” to see why). After sunset on both Friday and Saturday nights we started at the Silent Disco (which was so popular there was a crowd around the tent and not a spare headpiece in sight) and then headed to main stage (which never drew the crowd you’d expect) and then on to the secret “Furry” stage – which most people still don’t know even happened (think giant suspended penis with wings and hands down the sexiest circus you’ve ever seen.) To say we had a ball is an absolute understatement!
We left on Sunday with a piece of our hearts still in the dust, making the tough decision to beat the crowds and leave early (thus missing The Plastics and Desmond and the Tutus.) We see what you did there Daisies.
All in all, wonderful festival and wonderful memories made. See you next year Daisies (but only if there is more than one international headline band okay!) *fingers crossed