Mandala Project 2012 – Back to the Roots of Psy Culture

A new venue you say? Music to my ears! I’ve got nothing but good memories when it comes to the previous events, but the old venue makes me think of hurricane-force winds, satanic thorns and of course, the never-ending drive. The new venue, on the other hand, is simply beautiful. Nestled within the rolling green hills and cloud-capped mountains of the Elgin/Grabouw region, this venue boasts not only proximity to Cape Town, but also mind-altering scenery and a squishy dance-floor, which certainly elicited many a smile.

That being said, I was disappointed by the lack of a “gushing natural spring” as promised on the facebook page; all I found was a muddy and slightly stagnant pond that made one smell and look like a portapotty-prank survivor. Nonetheless, this is Africa, and it was good to take respite from the sweltering heat, even if the setting wasn’t the sort of thing one would expect to see on the cover of Getaway.

Rubbing the sleep out of my eyes, I made my way toward the stage. The sun was about to rise, the crisp air was warm and clear, and Biorhythm’s brutal bass-lines were already tearing through the silence. The first thing that struck me was the decor: a gentle breeze made the paintings ripple, whilst the huge multi-coloured shade-netting pulsated slowly and rhythmically above the crowd.

Tune Raider

The second thing that struck me was Tune Raider: she’s beautiful, she’s energetic, and she never stops smiling. The psy-diva injected the morning with doses of psychedelic bounciness that jolted the crowd awake like intravenous espresso. But this was all a warm-up for the international act, imported from Sweden: Logic Bomb. The duo stuck to their roots, flying in the face of all the progressive and minimalistic trends that influence the scene these days. Track after track of text-book psychedelic trance tracks were sampled and mixed lived, keeping the old-schoolers in the crowd stomping patriotically and reminiscing about the good times, before the days of energy drinks, board-shorts and military-like ID checks at the gate.

I feel the need to mention the décor once again: after a while I became accustomed to the fact that I was dancing within a squishy and pulsating dome of flowing imagery, adorned with rich colours, which buttered the heart with their beauty and violated the senses with their vibrancy. I also started to notice the symbolism embedded within the decor. Amongst other depictions of Hindu Gods, I noticed Ganeisha’s beautiful, elephantine form, waving her multiple arms at me. I also noticed, positioned all around the dance-floor, large orange cross-like structures with intricately overlapping and interlinking arms: the Sanskrit representation of the endless knot; the symbol of eternity, and a reminder of the interconnectedness of all things. I thought to myself that this symbolism was rather appropriate, just as one of Headroom’s tracks climaxed, sending a synchronized ripple of dance-energy through the crowd.

How refreshing to have these reminders of tradition, religion, mysticism and shamanism. We live in an age where we are constantly bombarded by cheap branding and shallow advertising “that has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need.” How nice it is, for once, to be endorsing spirituality and age-old links to humanity, rather than being enmeshed in the materialistic and image-oriented club culture.

The sun was burning high in the sky, and the day session was in full-swing. I ducked away for a break at the viral lounge. What a beautiful spot it was: shady and peaceful, with slow-tempo psychedelic chill-out tracks caressing the small group who swayed on the dance-floor. Immediately I felt myself slowing down; after half an hour I felt refreshed and re-invigorated from the shade, the smiles and the deep, pulsating bass-lines. With my energy-levels replenished, I returned to the main-stage where I found Gandalf getting things going with some fantastic hybrid progressive-psychedelic blends.

Before I knew it Sterealkey was setting up. By this time the sun had turned me into a walking (read stumbling), talking (read mumbling) and heavily tanned man (read lobster), and I thought it would be best to hit the road before descending completely into a lower life-form. I certainly left with a smile on my face. After years in the scene, I have come to attribute different ‘personalities’ to the various production companies. By consistently hosting parties in a specific way, Groovy Troopers have established themselves as the ‘older brother’ of South Africa’s trance scene. They are the wise ones, the ones who know how to make things work out, and the ones that you can learn something from. Mandala Project, as always, hosted an immaculate party, but it was so perfect because it was more than just a party. It was a weekend long cultural expedition; a learning experience for the new-generation, and a chance for the old stalwarts of the scene to show face and demonstrate the sort of respectful and peaceful culture that can be created when the right people gather under the appropriate circumstances. A big thanks to the Groovy team, and we look forward to the next one!

Until then, keep it unreal.

Photography by Rachel Doyle:

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About the Author: vibecheck

I go by the pseudonym ‘vibecheck’, and I contribute to event reviews here at Below the Lion. My personal interests include Psychology, Surfing, being in Nature, martial art, politics, activism, social justice and psychedelic experimentation.


3 Responses so far

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  1. james b says:

    had a good laugh at a lot of the younger folk on the dancefloor when Logic Bomb were playing. all of them wondering what the hell music it was. psychedelic music little ones. it aint all about massive basslines and the drop. educate yourselves and know where your scene appeared from!

    that being said, thank god the parties are starting to differentiate themselves. gives everyone a chance to go to their preferred musica destination :) now if only all the elistist bullshit would stop

  2. Dubbed Marley says:

    Looked like a sick party, pitty i coulndt make it.

  3. Kaeli says:

    best party of the season by far!! Guapa Lee has stolen my heart, her set was amazing! she dropped that PHAT tune with no beating around and just kept the beats coming. Psychedelic bliss to my heart and ears.
    most friendly group of people, so full of love and smiles. Except for that one bloke I heard of that was causing some menace.. But the positive energy out shined the dark by far.
    Big thanks to the organisers

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