Rage against the matric

2013-12-08 10:01

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This year, school-leavers were ‘pretty well behaved’, according to residents

Taking centre stage at this year’s annual matric Rage festival in KwaZulu-Natal wasn’t a celebrity dripping with bling and swagger.

Instead, the rain has been the centre of attraction – but, as any school-leaver jolling up a storm knows, a pair of sturdy gumboots with your party duds solves that problem.

Rage, as it’s affectionately known, started as an informal gathering of matrics to celebrate the end of school but has morphed into a slick operation, the Vodacom 4U Rage Festival, that draws party animals to Ballito, Umhlanga and Durban.

The festival, which wrapped up last night – or rather, in the early hours of this morning – is a heady mix of sun, surf, booze and socialising.

On dance floors at events with names like the Platinum Party, Fist Pump Nation, Get Dirty in Dub and Get Ready to Jump, no amount of mud could dampen the high spirits.

The girls kept it casual: heels were out, beautifully beaded flats were in, and extremely short shorts were paired with soft flowing shirts.

It was up to the boys to smarten things up in chinos and collared shirts – but their behaviour was far less formal.

“Hooking up” became a competition: boys roamed in packs, trying to kiss as many girls as possible each night. There was even talk of pronouncing a winner during a final ceremony on the dance floor last night.

The combination of mud, rain and alcohol saw several new dance styles being pioneered as DJs like Pascal and Pearce, 5FM’s Fresh, Grimehouse and Icarus kept the electro, deep House and hip-hop coming.

Sheldon O’Connor (18), from Joburg, said Rage was “incredible – everything I expected and more”.

O’Connor said he hadn’t seen any overly wild antics from his fellows, though he was amused by the odd drunks he’d seen serenading the ocean at 3am.

Boipelo Kobue, also from Joburg, said she and her friends were at Rage to have fun and de-stress after a year of hard work.

Mostly, ragers weren’t interested in talking about their experiences, though they were all willing to pose for photographs.

In previous years, vandalism, generally antisocial behaviour and drink-driving have been big problems at the festival.

This year, though, festival director William McIntyre said these issues were under control and all that had been reported were “minor scuffles”.

The booze was flowing, though, all day and night.

Umhlanga’s beaches were alive every day in spite of the consistently miserable, overcast and wet weather. But it seems nothing can keep a partying matric down.

Inflatable soccer pitches, beach volleyball courts and touch rugby games kept boys in designer board shorts fit while spirit coolers flowed and girls strutted their stuff in brightly coloured bikinis in hopes of being crowned this year’s Ms Bikini.

It’s not a cheap celebration.

Revellers either pay their way into events one at a time, or buy a Rage Passport, which costs anywhere between R750 and R1?800.

The passport covers entry to events and transport on official event shuttles, but there’s still accommodation, food and the all-important ingredient for many – alcohol – to consider. Accommodation starts at about R700 per night.

McIntyre said nearly 7?000 passports had been sold by the middle of this week and about 120?000 people had attended all the events. This year, all ragers could be identified by their wristbands containing their personal and medical information.

The wristbands could be swiped at every venue, which automatically updated the wearer’s Facebook status and made it easier for people to find each other if they got separated from their friends.

Traditionally, the ragers’ arrival leaves the locals cold, but this year the relationship seems to have improved. Peter Rose, the chairman of Umhlanga Tourism, said the school-leavers had been “pretty well behaved this year”.

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