‘Ragers’ party up a storm

2017-12-08 14:11
After a week of partying, the Rage Festival 2017 ends on Friday.

After a week of partying, the Rage Festival 2017 ends on Friday. (Supplied)

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While school was out for most of the “ragers” this week, some had to return to school “mid-rage” for their final school assemblies with the tell-tale “cashless bands” on their wrists and with signs of the previous night’s excess on their faces.

At one school a teacher walked around with a large pair of scissors.

“Right girls, these things have to come off,” she announced.

“And the nail polish,” she said, bringing out a bottle of remover.

There was a near riot, until they realised she was not serious.

They weren’t about to give up what has become a “rite of passage” which, as has become norm at this time of the year, draws thousands of matrics to Ballito, Umhlanga and Durban to party the days and nights away. And that they have … no matter the weather.

With rain chucking down on Wednesday evening, “Sound Factory” — one of the main events held in tents on the outer fields of King’s Park Stadium — was flooded out. By 10 pm that night, the “alternative” venues — Origin and Tiger Tiger nightclubs — were reportedly turning people away. The House was full.

This year the organisers said they were expecting between 6 000 and 9 000 over 18s at any one event.

They introduced a cashless system where the “ragers” (read their parents) could buy electronic passports for between R700 and R4 900 (for the prized “Black” VVIP band) to get into the events. Accommodation — the hot spots being Ballito and Umhlanga — and booze are extra.

They hired more bouncers and the Red Frogs (a party-safe organisation) were ever present, dealing with drunks and handing out alcohol-absorbing pancakes and sweets.

“It is the ultimate teenager experience,” Abbey Ward told The Witness.

“Loads of fun and sweat.”

She has been sharing an apartment in Ballito with friends, booked and paid for at the beginning of the year.

Another “rager”, Sophie Arde, said: “Everywhere I looked there were Red Frogs. I saw them helping people, laying down blankets if someone wasn’t feeling well. They put out messages on social media reminding people to call them for anything. It was very reassuring.”

She said the bouncers “were harsh”. “But they were strict because they needed to be. I have felt safe at every event.”

There were some complaints about transport, minibuses that ferry the party-goers to the events and back home.

“They [the drivers] drive really fast. They have scared off Uber drivers and we got stranded a couple of times,” said one.

But another attendee said the transport was great and safe. “Ragers must always remember what they have learnt at home and behave accordingly, especially when it comes to drugs,” he said.

Kearsney College matriculant Stuart Campbell said the event was very well organised and never once did he feel in danger or that help wasn’t close by.

“They have the balance perfect. The organisers are not in your face but you know if someone needs help they are there. We had a really good time.”

Seeing Black Coffee in action was the highlight. “There was something really good on every night. I would have liked to have seen more live music but that’s just my thing.”

Most fun though was “chilling on the beach” with friends. “The guys are all going their separate ways now and this was a last chance to see many of the people I have been at school with for so long,” said one rager.

One of the organisers, Mike Arnold, said the decision to cancel Wednesday’s Sound Factory event had been from a health and safety point of view.

“We just didn’t want to take a chance. There was so much water. We took the decision to open the clubs and it turned out nicely. The kids had a great time.”

Arnold said water had been pumped out of the venue and wood chips were being laid in preparation for tonight’s final party.

“All things considered, I think it has gone smoothly and it has been a good and successful year.

“We are always faced with challenges … it happens when you are dealing with youngsters in these numbers. But safety is always our main concern and I think the cashless system and the increase in security has made it a lot safer.

“We commend everyone we work with ... the police, the marshalls, the medics and the Red Frogs in particular. They have fun and have a great interaction with the kids.”

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  matric 2017

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