Words: Craig Jacobs
Photos Julian Graham, Jonx Pillemer, Hylton Boucher and Juliette Bisset
Littlegig, touted as the world’s first 24 hours everything included sensory experience, is a boho meets Afro festival that blends glamping with gastronomy,music with fashion and a dash of yoga and deep sleep inbetween.
It’s a little after 2pm on a blistering afternoon and as I stand in line to quench my thirst with an ice-cold glass of Krone (as one does when in the middle of a forest) I am greeted by a stirring apparition in pink, his tangerine and burgundy braids tied back in two pigtails with a deconstructed flower motif gold tattoo punctuating his forehead.
Gender fluid musical artist Umlilo is just the sort of person you’d meet when at a boho meets Afro festival which blends glamping with gastronomy, music with fashion and a dash of yoga and deep sleep in between.
This is Littlegig, touted as the world’s first 24 hours everything included sensory experience (meaning your ticket covers food and drink, but not the tent) and Umlilo, along with his “queer intergalactic alliance” collaborators Stash Crew, had just finished their set on the Forest stage.
The Forest stage was but one of a mix of platforms which popped up and closed as the festival progressed. Others included a stage perched on an island in the middle of the lake and a basketball court where acts ranging from Xhosa folk singer Bongeziwe Mabandla to electro hip-hopsters Black Motion and performance artists Dear Ribane enthralled us.
Meanwhile, deejays led by Just Themba, Kenzhito and DJ Mambo added to the musical soundscape, all under the gaze of Mighty Ndebele, a gold giant inflatable figure created by architect Sean Mahoney and his artist wife Justine.
Not heard of many of these acts? Neither had quite a few of about 1 500 festival goers who converged at the Wiesenhof Adventure Park, about 40 minutes’ drive out of Cape Town.
But that thrall of catching a whiff of new creativity is all part of the draw for this curated sensory carnival created by Capetonian Georgia Black.
The story goes that Black conceived the fest after discovering the venue while in search of the ideal spot for her 40th birthday, roping in mates including the Mahoneys, human-sized bird nest designer Porky Hefer and photography and set building duo Kevin Mackintosh and Daryl McGregor to help her realise her dream.
“I wanted to make a festival for someone like myself. Less grunge, more inspiration. And only 25 hours. Because not everyone can be fabulous for more than 24 hours.” Black explained at the launch of 2018 festival two months ago.
Georgia’s elevator pitch certainly got my ears pricked.
Enter a fest which talks to Gen-Xers like me: a bit like Coachella but without the crowds, Instagram photogenic with no portaloo queue.
And, because there’s no need to open your wallet whether for a drink at the bar, liquorice or condoms at the appropriately named Free Store, or to get your face beat in the festival hair and makeup salon, this is an elegantly slumming cashless soiree.
As for the glamping part? My festival twin Pinky and I are pretty outdoors averse but our fears were allayed when we unzipped our tent to find two steel-frame beds complete with linen, towels, bedside table and lamp while showering in a porta-shower washed away any ablution unease. And waking up the next morning to the soothing sounds of Samthing Soweto wafting across the forest as you tuck into a gourmet breakfast is the sort of festival nirvana without the grit I could happily imbibe.<