Johannesburg 4/20 Dagga Day

As I write this it is 5:47am on a cold Sunday morning.  I am sitting in a foreign bed listening to airplanes approaching Lanseria airport Johannesburg.  I have been awake since 4:20 am as my left knee decided it would let me know exactly in how much pain it is thanks me being on my feet for 12 hours straight whilst hosting  the festivities at the Johannesburg 420 Dagga Day – let me tell you, I will take this throbbing knee a million times over to repeat yesterday.

The “420 Dagga Day” was the first of its kind for South Africa and based on the success of it, will without a shadow of a doubt be bigger in the coming years with an estimated three to four thousand people coming throughout the day.  The day saw exhibitions, performance artist walking amongst the crowds, people selling baked goods and treats at the market, a coffee shop and a plethora of other attractions all of this in terrible weather, which due to high spirits cleared up and the day was a smash hit.

Yesterday was a landmark experience for the South African “cannabis-culture”. You be hard pressed to find another “drug” that has a “culture” aspect to it.   You will never hear people talk about the “drinking culture” or the “tik culture” or the “cocaine culture”, you may hear them talk about the drug culture as a whole but only cannabis has its very own culture.

After my experience yesterday I totally get why cannabis culture is such a widely used term.  The simple fact of the matter is that all the fest goers behaved in a very civilized and cultured manner, not that we expected anything else.

There were people from all walks of life, your typical skateboard stoner, your old school hippie stoner, your “hey what the hell I didn’t know there was a festival here and now I am getting high from secondary smoke” stoner, also just a ton of everyday, regular Joe kind of people.  People who work in banks, people who work as petrol attendants, waiters, leather workers, even that old codger that looks angry at the world, even he stood there smoking his joint and just taking in the happy vibes.

Me & Planet Lindela. (I’m the white guy)

The bands that performed were stellar and such a bunch of rad folks.  First up were the very well dressed and exceptionally fantastic guys from Planet Lindela.  These guys have energy on stage, which just makes you want to do a jig, like some weird leprechaun with a shitty ankle.  Their sounds are infectious and everyone clearly enjoyed their set.  Their sound is a “refugee jazz” straight from Soweto.

Second up was the guys from Savage Lucy.  These guys are an instrumental group from the Fourways, Pretoria block.  I asked them how must I introduce them and in their fun happy-go-lucky way they just “let’s just have fun bud”.  I am not sure whether they were talking to their weed or me at the time.  These guys already have a strong supporter base that after yesterday certainly grew, even leader of the Dagga Party, said to me “I really enjoyed their style”.  Their sound is unique and being instrumental allows the listener to go on their own journey, looking at some of the expressions on the faces of the fans, the journey was to fun place.

Just before Tidal Waves took the stage, the two people who were the core around this day, Myrtle and Julian (Jules) Stobbs – or more commonly known as “The Dagga Couple”.   As they took the stage you could tell this was the reason why the people were there,  they were there because Jules and Myrtle are fighting the fight to re-legalize dagga and people came out in full support.

At 4:20pm Tidal Waves took the stage amidst a unified haze of dagga smoke after Jules introduced them and no doubt everyone love these guys.  They had just come from a Seychelles tour and when I spoke to one of the band members and I asked him what message he has for the people he just said  “smoke weed”, and his message is echoed in their music.  It’s to the point, makes no pretense and is just pure and good for the soul.

lighting up?

Closing up the evening was Bushy Williams and Sister Ites.  These guys are just magical.  Their youtube content in no ways does their actual stage presence and quality any justice.  Their music and hearts are just pure love being pumped over the audience.

Jules & Myrtle with the winner of the raffle

The day did end on a slightly sad note as we ran a little over time due to the rain and the managers of the business district did not want to allow the festival to carry on for an extra 45 minutes till 8pm and we were shut down at 7:15pm.  This meant our final band of the day The Brother Moves On, did not get to play.  It was really amazing to see how everyone that were waiting all day to see these guys, not make a fuss or cause trouble.

Everyone stood around talking amongst themselves and just having a grand time.  By 8:30pm pretty much everyone had dispersed.  Our medic onsite had one of the most un-eventful days of his life and the security guard; a total of one for the most part of the day wasn’t seen and wasn’t needed and commented to Jules Stobbs “I have nothing to do, I am leaving”.

This ladies and gentleman, is what happens when you let a bunch of stoners get together.  They have a bloody good time and love one another without any racial, political, sexual, spiritual prejudice and judgement.  This is how South Africans as a nation can and must be.

I love you guys.

P.S. Cape Town, make sure you join the Cape Cannafest on the 4th of May.  Details of the event can be found here and here.

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