In Review: Lighthouse Festival SA 2019

I’m sitting on a 50 seater bus, it is swelteringly warm outside.

The Lighthouse Festival venue is in Kommetjie, and every year they organize a shuttle service to transport revellers safely to-and-from the event. A combination of distance, roadworks and summertime traffic means the journey takes about an hour to reach the event. The din in the bus results in a cocktail of French, Italian, South African and German accents.

The appeal and reputation of LHF not only attracts Europeans already on holiday in South Africa but several people travel to our shores especially for the event as well. A large part of the LHF presence in SA each year focusses on positive impact and community upliftment. The festival expends great effort on providing their global following with the opportunity to see what South Africa is really like, and not necessarily how it is represented in sensational media coverage.

At the end of our bus journey we arrive at Soetwater Resort, the location on which LHF takes place. On the closest horizon we see the lighthouse, the landmark which plays the deciding role in where the event takes place. A short stroll up the road leads us to the party, a low-slung beat is pulsating in the distance – drawing us nearer to the action. Aside from a lighthouse, the second image most associated with LHF in Croatia is a stage built in the shape of a boat made of newspaper, which is setup on the beach with the ocean as its backdrop. This has not been a feature in the past at LHF South Africa, but to my surprise this year they have chosen the paper boat as the stage set-up.

Situating your event on the beach, at the edge of the water in an area like Kommetjie places you at the mercy of the wind. But once again this year, the wind favours the event and its presence serves more as a reprieve from the blistering sun than an as annoyance. Floyd Lavine is entertaining the earlier crowd, most of whom are swimming in the tidal pool or lazing on the rocks in the sun. The frequency of the arrival of groups of people to the dance floor hastens throughout his set, witnessing the growth of an eager and energetic crowd.

We’re heading into the late afternoon, and closer to the much anticipated sunset by the time Tsepo starts to play. In the days preceding the main event, in many conversations at the various satellite events, I had been advised to not miss this set. The Amsterdam native made a strong impression on the LHF team in Croatia which left them no choice but to invite him to play in South Africa. Tsepo’s set presented the perfect combination of house, funk and disco which had a notably positive effect on the energy of the dancefloor.

Local legend Shimza was awarded the responsibility of the sundowner set, transitioning us into the icy cool night. While there are moments in his set which could not have been captured as perfectly by any other artist on the line up, his overall set was not what many of us had hoped. In the past two years the SA headliners have been phenomenal, perhaps setting the expectations a lot higher than anticipated.

The air is crisp, in the distance the glowing beam from the lighthouse plays its role in illuminating the dancefloor and creating the dramatically picturesque backdrop for the rave. The final two sets of the night are met with the energy and excitement of a dancefloor that has been coaxed into its prime. As soon as Perel takes the reigns we’re met with a powerful groove that she not only sustains but manages to compound throughout her set. The best surprise was looking up for a moment while dancing to discover that the ethereal voice bellowing through the soundsystem is in fact Perel’s live vocals and not just a burner track.

Building on the energy created by Perel, Kim Ann Foxman kicks the bassbins into overdrive with dark, rolling basslines that are unrelenting and unapologetic. She plays with the crowd by teasing in thrashing hi-hats or ambient chords progressions at various intervals, but maintains the rolling darkness throughout. Essentially bring the basement to the beach, wrapping up main event perfectly while presenting the ideal transition to transport us to the afterparty.

The afterparty takes place at Modular in the Cape Town CBD. The club has a no photo policy to respect the experience of its patrons. The rest of the night’s entertainment is handled with devastating prowess by Lady M, the LHF squad and ATEQ – who played the most incredible set at the Johannesburg satellite event the week before. The dance floor was a heaving mass, I caught myself in awe of the fact that no one wanted to leave at any point.

I emerged from the rave at 5am with an impending 8am flight on my mind, but more importantly I got to this moment because for the third year in a row LHF managed to knock their event out the park.

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