31 January 2016
Spit-roasted lamb. Next-level braai-broodjies. Chicken and waffles at midnight. Held in a forest outside Stellenbosch, the LITTLEGIG 24-HOUR FESTIVAL is the first SA event to offer a food line-up to RIVAL THE MUSIC. From here on, the food is as important as THE PARTY.
Production: Abigail Donnelly
Recipes: Bertus Basson, Fritz Schoon, Jenny Ward and Santa Anna’s
Photographs: Myburgh Du Plessis, Jonx Pillemer and Sam Lowe
Let’s not talk about age because, well, people are touchy and the Littlegig concept is neither ageist nor age-specific (save for kids that is, ankle-biters are verboten). This music festival is best described in stages. Life stages.
Whether you’re in your twenties (assuming you were a productive and over-achieving teenager), thirties, forties or fifties, there inevitably comes a time when you catch yourself saying: “I’m too old for this”. It could be about anything, from whining Facebook posts, to standing awkwardly “in da club” trying to make conversation in the gaps between the beats of some banging dance tunes.
Generally, the “I’m too old for this” refrain signals the arrival of what I call the Goldilocks life stage. Goldilocks was a fussy home intruder. Poking around the bears’ home, testing the threadcount of the linen, dipping her silver spoon in and out of porridge bowls, judging, judging, judging until she deemed on “just right”. How she escaped a mauling is beyond me.
The truth is, as we get older, we tend to develop a distinct strain of Goldilocks. We know exactly how we like our porridge. And why not? The further we progress from our carefree youth, the more responsibilities we have. It starts with pot plants, progresses to paying taxes and one day you have two children and a mini SUV. It happens fast, which is why many of us – ensconced in the Goldilocks life stage (a.k.a being fussy) – start looking back at our music festival days in a wistful “remember when we used to…” kind of way.
BUT THEN GEORGIA BLACK HAD A GREAT IDEA “I started Littlegig by putting on smaller concerts in Cape Town for a crowd of friends who are creative, exposed to music and nightlife globally, and who are searching for inspiring, fun events that bring together a community of like-minded people. The concerts were a great success, but an evening out felt limiting and I became interested in creating an experience that lasted a bit longer. Last March I went to SXSW in Texas (the biggest music showcase and conference in the world) to listen to panels featuring founders and operators of some of the world’s best festival, and came home knowing that what I wanted to created didn’t exist anywhere: a small, curated, 24-hour, everything-included event combining nature and sensory experiences.”
Thanks to the effort of this former magazine features editor turned promoter and events curator, the Littlegig 24-hour festival is a brilliant mix of food, music, design, convenience and nature, expertly curated. The venue is not accidental either. Held at Wiesenhof just outside Stellenbosch, the lake-and-pine-forest setting includes an eccentric clapboard house, a clearing for the “food forest”, plenty of space for the two-person tents provided for overnighters and a magical basketball court-dancefloor among the bluegums.
On top of the line-up, the Littlegig team also does a great job of weeding out all the stuff no one loves about festivals: bad food, terrible toilets, standing in long queues to buy cheap booze… And critically, where most festivals naturally focus on the music, Littlegig is unique in that a considered food offering is part of the package. “When I decided to put on the festival, I met up with TASTE editor Kate Wilson, who was the editor of Marie Claire when I was there,” says Georgia. “I told her I thought I’d just do boerewors rolls because that’s what people eat at festivals, but I also thought that this might be a missed opportunity. We discussed a festival in Oxfordshire called Wilderness where the food line-up involves UK chefs, like Fergus Henderson and Sam and Sam Clark of Moro. Kate suggested Bertus Basson as headline chef and Bertus brought in Fritz Schoon of Schoon de Companje in Stellenbosch and Frik Oosthuizen of Santa Anna’s, and at that moment Littlegig transformed from a dance party to a much more multi-layered experience.”
“I came home knowing that what I wanted to create didn’t exist anywehere: a small, curated, 24-hour, everything-included event combining nature and sensory experiences”
– Georgia Black, Littlegig Founder
NEVER BEFORE HAVE FESTIVAL-GOERS Been SO WELL FED. Santa Anna’s barbequed beef brisket tacos with red cabbage, smoked onion aïoli, pickled onions and coriander was closely followed by Bertus’s moreish mac ‘n’ cheese tots with umami ketchup. Afternoon tea saw gourmet braaibroodjies from Schoon de Companje: country loaf with mature Cheddar, beer pickled onion and herb aioli, plus a sourdough version with pork loin, Gruyère, cream cheese and wholegrain mustard. (Fritz also provided boerewors and egg rolls the next morning to temper hangovers.) Artisanal lollies by Las Paletas and Jenny’s yoghurt panna cotta pots provided a sugar hit as festival-goers settled down in front to catch the sunset concert.
For dinner, Bertus brought out the big guns, serving the spit-roasted Moroccan-spiced lamb and BBQ-basted pork he’d been tending all day. (There was a harvest salad in there somewhere too.)
Beyond the music, there was more than one festival experience to be had. Discerning drinkers gathered in the local tasting installation built by Sam Fuchs and Cornelia Badenhorst to sample craft beer, wines and spirits by such liquid luminaries as Miles Mossop, Sebastian Beaumont and Adi Badenhorst. Others worked their credit cards at the fashion concept store created by Lindy Cohen and Shirley Fintz, while being entertained by DJ sisters Zodwa and Zanele Khumalo.
For Georgia, the best moment was “looking up at the trees around midnight on a packed dance floor, surrounded by many people I didn’t know, and knowing that Littlegig has become bigger than me and is being carried by communal energy.”
Around midnight, reeling off the dancefloor or wandering from bar to bar in the forest, buttermilk waffles and southern-fried chicken appeared from the trees. And anyone who has ever ashamedly shamed KFC at the end of a big night out smiled at the genius of this gesture.
Great music, delicious food, an incredible setting and as much partying as you feel like. In other words: just right. Goldilocks would approve.