In Dust We Trust – It’s Oppikoppi Or Bust!marshall_qtnpwj
In Dust We Trust – It’s Oppikoppi Or Bust!
For 23 years, revelers from all over the country have been kicking up the dust at the Oppikoppi Music festival on a remote farm near Northam in Limpopo. In the first week of October every year, this unassuming mining district transforms itself, becoming the bushveld destination of choice for thousands of sleeping bag-toting, beer bottle-waving music lovers.
Oppikoppi is officially South Africa’s longest-running music festival and is regarded by many as the main spark that ignited the South African rock music movement in the late 90’s. It is now almost unrecognizable from the humble little event that first saw the light of day back in 1994. With a strong emphasis on Afrikaans rock music, that inaugural festival featured just 27 local artists performing to a small crowd of about 1 000 people. Since then, the growth has been phenomenal.
In 2008, the British newspaper the Daily Mirror ranked OppiKoppi as the 4th best music festival in the world. In 2017, the event drew crowds in excess of 20 000 and boasted a line up of over a hundred local and international acts across a wide variety of genres.
There are now multiple stages showcasing anything from house music to jazz, hip-hop to dance, world music to acoustic, and everything in between. There are even stand up comedy acts for anyone who was temporarily “music’d out.”
The Cool Stuff
Oppikoppi is, without doubt, one of the coolest events in South Africa. If you haven’t yet been, you seriously have to make a plan for next year. But if for some reason you’re still not sure that this event is the kind of thing that blows your hair back, here are a few fun facts guaranteed to convince you:
There’s A Naked Run
Yup, we said naked. This is one of the surefire non-musical highlights of the entire weekend! Motivated by liquid courage, the bravest of the brave festival-goers ditch their kit and race along a dusty, dirty route lined three deep with camera-waving, cellphone-filming spectators. If you’re keen to expose your wobbly bits to all and sundry, simply register at the campsite on the day.
A Festival By Any Other Name….
….would simply not be the same! If you’re not South African (or you are but your high school Afrikaans has long since deserted you. Or maybe you just live in KZN), you might be wondering where the name Oppikoppi comes from. It’s actually a colloquial abbreviation of the Afrikaans phrase, “op die koppie.” This literally means, “on the hill,” which is exactly where the music stages are. Original? Maybe not. But catchy? Absolutely!
There’s A Tented Hotel
I know, right? And yes, it’s true that it is pretty much a rite of passage to rough it in the streets of Mordor at least once. You have to embrace the whole pitching your tent, sleeping on hard ground and eating chip sarmies for breakfast. No, really, you have to. But once you’ve popped that particular cherry, you’ve got options. One of which is the Tented Hotel. This is a compulsory choice if you’re bringing your girlfriend. Especially if she’s a new girlfriend.
The Tented Hotel offers you a decent, pre-erected tent, mattresses, charger points, a private bar, breakfast and warm showers. This last point is a serious bonus as out there in non-hotel land, there are just 10 showers for 20 000 people. This means no hot water and long queues. Really long queues.
Staying in the Tented hotel also means you’re guaranteed a spot close to the stages without having to arrive two days before the festival starts.
An Unbeatable Line-Up
In 2017, for the first time ever, Oppikoppi and sister festival Rocking The Daisies decided to collaborate, sharing headline acts. The joint venture meant the cost of bringing in the big name stars was shared between the two events. This translated to lower ticket prices and happier music lovers!
The resultant line-up consisted of Black Coffee, Flume, Joey Bada$$, Two Door Cinema Club, The Naked and The Famous, Beatenberg, Bongizizwe Mabandla, Albert Frost, Carlo Mombelli, The Brother Moves On, The Muffinz, Twins on Decks, Jazuelle and Timo ODV, among many others.
In Dust We Trust
Because, well, Limpopo, Oppikoppi is renowned for its dusty environment. In fact, the motto of the festival is “In dust we trust.” Revellers are urged to bring scarves or buffs to wrap around their noses and mouths to help filter out the dry grass and silt that over 20 000 pairs of boogie-ing feet kick up.
In 2017, however, there was a slight deviation from the norm. A torrential rainstorm, complete with hail, changed the motto (unofficially, of course) to “in mud we’re stuck.” The rain was so heavy it made the dirt roads into the festival venue unsafe to use, and even those musical merrymakers who had intended to leave early were advised to hunker down and stay for the night.
2017 also saw the introduction of the Me Now Mango Picker Green Village. No, really. This eco-friendly camping village was created specifically to highlight environmental issues and change festival goers’ habits. It also offers a communal cooking area so you can bond with your fellow festival fans over a simmering potjie or sizzling braai.
Yes, you might have seen a few of these if you watched the Naked Run, but that’s not what we mean! Revellers in Johannesburg and Pretoria can buy packages to Oppikoppi that include return shuttles to and from the festival, a tent with an inflatable bed, and community breakfasts and dinners. 2017’s price was R2 700 for this package, but check the festival website in 2018 for updated prices.
The Jo’burg shuttles leave from Maponya Mall, Southgate Mall and Rosebank McDonalds, while the Pretoria shuttles depart from the CBD and Hatfield Gautrain stations.
What To Pack
Hopefully, by now, you’ll be completely convinced that Oppikoppi is where you need to be over the first weekend in October next year. If so, here are a few things to remember to pack that will help make your experience even more enjoyable:
Prepare for all weather
As we’ve said before, it’s usually hot and dry, so bring sunscreen and a hat, in addition to the aforementioned buff. An umbrella’s also a cool idea as it screens you from both sun and rain! A warm jacket for the evening is a must!
Help Your Body
Admit it – you’re going to be drinking too much and not eating proper food. So pack some hardy fruit (apples and naartjies are always good), along with some of those fizzy multivitamin tablets. Also, headache tablets. You know why.
Keep It Sanitary
If you don’t opt to go the Tented Hotel route, best pack an econo-pack of wet wipes. These are awesome for a million reasons and will do a passable job of keeping you clean and hygienic when you can’t face the shower queue.
Keep it Light
And by that we mean pack a torch or, better, a headlamp. You’re in the middle of nowhere so it gets pretty darn dark at night. No street lights, or any other kind really, except the occasional camping light. But these aren’t left on all night, so if you need a midnight wee, you’re also going to need a torch!
Looking Forward To Seeing You There!
Everyone needs to experience Oppikoppi at least once in their lives. But once you’ve been once, you will keep going back!
Misha Loots, who runs the OppiKoppi festival, explains it thus: “When you walk through those gates you are not a lawyer, student or a doctor anymore. You are an OppiKoppi-goer. People come here with one common goal and that is to have fun and experience live music. Music is a universal language that connects people from all walks of life.”