When we arrive in Mpumalanga’s Balfour, which is about an hour away from Johannesburg, the sun is beating down on a handful of cars already parked in the vast field. I can hear Mafikizolo from that makeshift parking lot at Welgelen Manor but it doesn’t sound like they’re playing to anyone at all.
The Bacardi Holiday Club, which is a 24-hour festival where all drinks and food are included in your ticket price, took place over the weekend and it was an intimate experience that I would gladly repeat. Except I would bring a bigger jacket because the degrees sure did drop by nightfall
Bacardi did not, in any way, seem to have reached the 1 500 cap for attendees but that’s what made the festival feel like you had space to breathe. And more importantly, to be yourself.
There was a forest stage where DJ Shimza creatively played vocals over popular beats. There was also the pool area stage manned by the Kool Out Collective, and a main stage that didn’t always hit the mark when it came to the DJ sets that were played between performances.
P-Kuttah was playing Kendrick and Rihanna while DJ Nurock on the main stage was playing Bob Marley. Naturally, all the young, hip people in shorts and bathing costumes and furry slippers were at the pool and the main stage was speckled with old men wearing sling bags.
That aside, the performances were so much fun. Nadia Nakai warmed the crowd up with her ratchetry and she was followed by Cassper Nyovest. “No more parties in Joburg…” Cassper declared. And he had a point. It did seem like being an hour out of “Johazardousburg” allowed people to not act too cool to dance.
PH Fat had an okay presence. But Sho Madjozi, who mounted the stage after, made sure she stoked the fire that was dying. Frank Casino had a great performance and he brought out Gemini Major and Riky Rick.
Swizz Beatz took us through a slew of his hits, the American songs he loves and a medley of gqom that he was into.
Before Riky came back on stage to perform Sidlukotini, Swizz Beatz attempted a speech about how amazing South African artists were and how they need to own their art.
It was met with the audience singing the national anthem back to him. And then, his response was the real national anthem: Sista Bettina. The Bacardi Holiday Club was incredible and while I’d rather Swizz keep some of his sentiments, he’s a man of many hits and I enjoyed most of his set.