KIRSTI BUICK AND NATASHIA HUDSON

 Still feeling the post-World Cup blues? If you’re searching for a little excitement, look no further than South Africa’s own Limpopo Province. A farm in Northam, to be precise. 

The Oppikoppi Festival 2010 is once again drawing near and in anticipation, Perdeby has compiled an Oppikoppi survival guide for the Koppi virgins – as well as the veterans who can’t remember much from last year.

For those few who have lived under a rock (or in the Free State) for the past 16 years, Oppikoppi is South Africa’s largest music festival. Since it began in 1994, it has grown from a small gathering that provided a platform to a few local musicians to an internationally acclaimed festival with multiple stages. Throughout its 16 years, Oppikoppi has featured all local acts worth knowing as well as international acts such as Jimmy Eat World and Violent Femmes. This year, Billy Talent will be appearing at the festival.

The theme this year, “Sexy Crooked Teeth”, was inspired by the Lucinda Williams/Willie Nelson song, “Overtime”. The song describes the singer’s longing for a lost love with pale skin, and sexy crooked teeth (which is not a bad Edward Cullen reference, come to think of it). The festival’s website claims that this is the best way to describe Oppikoppi in three words – “that is, if you had to pick three words quickly at knifepoint, somewhere late at night”.

So here’s what you need to know, what you need to bring and everything in between:

 TENT: If the idea of curling up in a dust-filled ditch at five in the morning doesn’t sound too appealing, it would be wise for you to bring a tent. And some extra blankets, unless you plan on cuddling up to a bottle of Jose Cuervo to keep you warm (see TEMPERATURE). This may actually be a more effective alternative.

FOOD: For those who aren’t happy to live off boerewors rolls and hamburgers for a few days, bringing some food is advisable. However, no matter what you eat, you will find that all food at Koppi will develop the same exotic flavour (see DUST).

WET WIPES: The last thing you want to do is queue for an ice cold shower. Especially behind a guy who smells like he might be carrying enough bacteria to infect you and your future (as yet, unconceived) children. Koppi is probably the only place in the world where it is okay not to shower for three to four days. Also consider bringing waterless handwash and waterless shampoo (both available at Clicks). Think Survivor and you’ll be fine.

CLOTHING: Anything goes. At Koppi, girls (or boys …) wearing pink tutus and tiaras walk around with their gothic boyfriends on a leash. So even if you try, you won’t be able to disrupt the dress code – there’s no such thing. If, however, you’d like your white clothes to stay that way, rather leave them at home. Gumboots are recommended, though.

TEMPERATURE: Sun block, sunnies and an Eskimo-type jacket are most essential. Northam has a desert-like climate. During the day, you’ll be wearing jean shorts and a T-shirt. At night, your teeth will chatter until they break (and then you’ll really fit in with this year’s theme).

DUST: You’ve probably never seen so much dust in your life, and probably never will except at Koppi. It gets on, in, up, under and around pretty much everything. At the end of the weekend, your black boots will be chocolate brown and you will have acquired a lovely tan (only to wash it off when you get back home). You can’t really do much about it (see WET WIPES) but being mentally prepared should help. 

THORNS: Thorny bushes are everywhere you look. Especially everywhere you don’t look. It is the bushveld after all, so expect a few cuts and scrapes. Once again, there’s nothing you can do about it – being mentally prepared won’t even help. You simply can’t dodge these sneaky little bushes, especially late at night after a couple of beers.

GETTING LOST: Like dust, heat and good music, this is inevitable at Koppi. Perdeby suspects it’s a tree conspiracy – once it gets dark the trees run around and play hide-and-seek so that everything looks the same and most people can get lost – and make new friends. So if you do get lost, just walk into the nearest camp, introduce yourself and get comfortable. The good people will offer you a beer and a chair next to the fire. If you happen to be on the other end of this equation, have a heart. Don’t be inhospitable if you find random drunk people in your camping chairs one morning. If you’re making breakfast, offer them some food, or alternatively, offer them a beer.

 Most importantly, the best way to enjoy Koppi is to avoid fighting anything – whether dust, thorns, disappearing trees, or that guy who keeps eyeing your girlfriend. Just let go, embrace it all and you will have a blast!

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