Joe Blog's cowardly disclaimer: I did not attend Balkanology so have no idea if it was as bad as this musician writing under a pseudonym claims.
BalkanoPorno 2009 — Cape Town is good for it, Were not
By Kallak Jonesic
14th November 2009
Balkanology was a musical fiasco that I could only describe through the firsthand experience, a simple journalistic narrative if you will. Making a simple review by mentioning the historicity of the organizers and artists of this musical catastrophe will never get the intended message across, and I do not intend to publicize them (the individuals) in any shape or form. I call them Them.
As soon as I parked I knew that something was rotten: hundreds of cars and a meandering queue that slithered lethargically to the street; and there an even greater lackluster horde killed time, as in a 90s Bosnian soup line. It asked itself whether the wait was worth any of this. Why wait so long for mere bouillon, and an expensive one at that? The time was 10.30.
Its time to get the hell out of here, I thought. Eleven-thirty seemed like an appropriate time to go down the road and get drunk. The line hadnt moved for some time and a big-eyed Turkish girl was becoming overly agitated at the situation — I found that extremely sexy
The effects of the few beers and tequilas we drank beforehand were wearing off and the last thing I needed was to grow drowsy and go home. Two friends had come with: a Serbian drunk who had inhaled fourteen beers and by now was pushing for an exodus back to the Bohemian pub where we had started, and a Canadian musician who country-hops with the intention to get inspiration for his own melodic undertakings.
Lets go man — screw this, I cant wait any longer, said the Serbian. The only thing that deterred us from going back to the Bohemian was the talentless band that had chased us out of there in the first place. I decided to smoke another cigarette and had a chat with the Turkish girls friends who had attended a couch surfers gathering earlier in the day and had come, like us, to scratch at their nostalgia with the promised sounds of the East. The conversation was at surface and as I was taking the last few drags of my cigarette, a friend of ours came from within the venue and told us that if we wanted in wed have to shove to the front of the queue and hope that the bouncer liked us. The Turkish girl followed — she was sent as the scout in case the arrangement of slyness was successful. I hate pushing ahead in queues and receiving telepathic fuck yous from the crowd; its like paying one of those firms at the home affairs to get your passport renewed faster.
After paying the Nigerian at the door, we had successfully bribed ourselves inside and I was beginning to enter a state of trepidation. It was chock-a-block and the music was foreign even to us, a bunch of Eastern Europeans, me being the only Bulgarian. Must be some sort of warm-up act, I thought. Then we queued again for drink. The beer and tequila were finished and that made us angrier. The Turkish girl had now reattached herself to her fellow countrymen who had followed suite and like us had infiltrated the facility, also in a guileful manner. We never saw them again — they must have left minutes later, and unlike us must have in trice seen the chicanery; just another advantage of not being an excessive drinker. We, however, stayed and drank cheap cocktails at thirty bucks a shot. Other drunks were tottering around us and one of them almost knocked the plastic cup from my hand.
If this doesnt get more comfortable Im leaving, said I, but the Canadian was having heaps of fun and it didnt look like we were going anywhere. And I knew why: with a couple of African prostitutes at 44 Stanley and all in all a months stay in the City of Gold, no Canuck would ever think of leaving a party like this!
We took our sorry, sour Gypsy Love Potion cocktails - Caipirinha-like imitations renamed to fit the occasion - to the middle of the throng and smoked some crappy weed that made me introspective and I began listening to the music. There were around seven or eight-hundred people in the olive garden at 44 Stanley, once known as the Colour Bar, and around three hundred and fifty getting ripped off at both bars — one of which had Emir Kusturicas Black Cat, White Cat film on repeat. I thought that it wasnt a bad touch, but the film was purposefully played on silent and as I stood there in the garden, I wondered why we werent listening to it. As a self-proclaimed writer and journalist I knew that I should do my research and find out who the DJ was, so that I could sink him, at least in my circles — then there were two more and the real atrocity began; fair enough, there were motifs of Balkan music, but only of the cheesiest variety, and I am willing to bet that much of the music came from the Czech Republic and Poland
-break- - - - *BREAKING NEWS**** Polish and Czech NOT = Balkan - - - -break-
Songs would begin with a house beat, and then one of those Balkan motifs would creep in; usually a midi-generated fiddle or clarinet, and then back to the cheese-ball nineties rave beat. I believe that I know what turbofolk is, and Im not proud of it, but this wasnt anywhere in the vicinity. At times, the whole balkanology element would disappear and many of us felt like we were attending a H2O party somewhere in the East. I was awaiting the foam, but it didnt come. It was in those moments that you could spot the socio-demographic rift, and sure enough, the crowd that came with the intention to experience this new thing out of Cape Town; that thing that is supposedly capable of making your blood boil like a Spaniards and have your undergarments sweat like gypsies in heat, saw right through it, and by 00.30 a third queue was fashioned, but this time at the exit.
The other side of the rift was occupied by the characters whose only reference to Eastern European culture was Sacha Baron Cohens new-world connoisseur alter ego, and they, like him, would wear mustaches to show their allegiance to something that could only be described as cutthroat branding and maybe a little bit of their own ignorance. Understandably, many people expected much from their first night: they knew they would lose their virginity to this pulsating ogre residing in the East, and were fervently prepared for it; their attire complementing the supposed and long-awaited introduction. But instead, they themselves became a cog of the subterfuge, reaffirming to us that unawareness still reigns supreme in Africas most progressive of metropolises. The rest of us saw only milk teeth biting at marshmallow candy; the ogre had unknowingly sent his pariah son to convey the wrong message to many credible diplomats of world music.
The Serbian was trashed and I thought he needed to take the weight of his feet before he splashed across the water feature in the middle of the court. We went to sit on some silage that was brought in for the donkey(s), which I didnt get to see and had by now been taken back, perhaps because they too couldnt take the atmosphere. Whilst seated amongst the hay I chatted to some female friends of mine. The Serbian was justifiably angry and like a true member of his clan began to pull sordid faces at everyone who walked passed. We, most of us, were mawkish at this particular moment in the morning, around two am. Later I found out that the Canadian was playing with some prostitutes in the toilets at the same time of our farm existence reconnection (all Eastern Europeans are villagers of course). We then went with the girls and tried to dance a little, but it didnt feel right at all. The Canadian brought a six pack of beer from somewhere and that happened to be the happiest twenty minutes of the night. When the girls went home I played Taxi Driver and drove the Cunuck and Serbian to their dwellings, much to the Canadians disapproval who didnt realize how lucky he was not to have woken up in a prostitutes bed in the heart of Hillbrow the next day. The time was 03:00 AM
I woke up the Sunday much angrier than the night before. I made a triple post on facebook renaming Balkanology to Pornology and this wasnt well received by many of my friends. Some called me a snob and others could not understand why I was so annoyed with a stupid gig. I will not waste time here by excusing or explaining myself. I know that balkanologys first team was not present that Saturday night, and that such parties may have been more successful and authentic some years ago down in the Cape. But I only hope that upon my arrival in the United States in January next year, they wont make me listen to John Mayer and tell me its the blues, because then I may have to grow a scarf.
Author: , 23 November 2009
hey man...we are living in the city of gold...quick buck is the king..."THEY" dont care about cultural message...Pitty though....
My sentiments exactly
Author: Johan, 24 November 2009
That is the best review of a shit gig ive ever read. Not all South Africans are narrow minded fashion slaves, just most of them. That balkanology gig was an abomination of East European culture and an abomination of electronic music too.
Jozi needs some taste.
Hey its me
Author: Ian, 24 November 2009
Great review man, I didnt go, thank god I didnt, you know how angry I get at these things.
Your words cut like a knife, funny I saw some of my friends pictures on facebook looking gleeful in their borat costumes. South Africans always manage offend other cultures with their ignorance.
You said it!
Author: Irene, 10 December 2009
I so agree! I found myself in a sardine can, being forced to smell armpits and crotches if I dared attempt to sit down, and all this to listen to endless house 'music'?
A few belly dancers lost in the crowd and lots of fake moustaches did not make this any more authentic, just pathetic.
Disappointing to say the least, I was really looking forward to the excitement of the real thing.
And I HATE house!
Magnificent piece of writing
Author: Karla, 30 April 2010
Wonderfully observed and captured. I hope the organisers have read this.
Greetings from Cape Town!
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