travelling (and blogging) again

More than three weeks have passed since I left Switzerland and I have finally found some time to sit down and write some impressions of our trip to the end of the world. Since you can’t get any closer to the date line than New Zealand where we are right now (it was so strange when I realized that it would be a day earlier on the calendar if I flew just a little bit more to the East) and the world is supposed to end in not even three months according to some fans of apocalyptic hysteria, it is a trip to the end of the world in at least two senses: a spatial and a temporal one. It is a good occasion to escape the pressures of everday (work) life and think more profoundly about what is really important in my life.

I spent the last couple of days relaxing from our first hiking experience (Abel Tasman national park) in Takaka which is part of the Golden Bay, a region of New Zealand where a lot of „alternative“ (hippie is such a nasty word, imho)) people live.

They even created their own currency, called H.A.N.D.S. (how about a Non-Dollar System) which is used for stuff like gardening work, second-hand items etc. there are some interesting features of this currency systems, one of them being that “money” is only generated through activity (like work or selling an item) and not “out of thin air” and that the total balance of HANDS in the system is always 0.

If you ever come to Takaka you HAVE TO eat a pizza @ Dangerous Kitchen in the main street. In our opinion it was the best pizza we ever ate (especially the Busy Bean Vegan one but the Popey’s plus ist not to be underestimated neither). The big difference between the pizzas that we know and the ones at Dangerous Kitchen is the amount of vegetables they put on top of it. And of course the delicious taste – highly recommended!

In Takaka we were staying at the house of a friend of the guy where we have spent two nights in Nelson and were able to leave part of our luggage before the hiking. We had a room on our own and were mostly on our own since she was working during the daytime and occupied with yoga etc. In the evenings. Nevertheless we spent some nice moments with her and she made sure that all our needs were taken care of. She has a beautiful garden, a lovely dog with whom we played A LOT and an extraordinary cat. It turned out that the guy who made our pizza is renting a room in her house, what a small world 😉

But let’s start from the beginning. From Switzerland we flew to London from where our flight (with Singapore airlines, more on that later) to Christchurch was going to take off. One of the reasons why we chose London (from the couple of European airports from which trans-oceanic flights are less expensive than from Switzerland (anyone has a logical explanation for this?) was that the Bangface weekender was taking place in England at that time (little did we know when deciding this where exactly, the festival was taking place and about the existence of laws regarding dB-limitation that are not restricted to Switzerland, oh well…).

Anyway we landed in London and found out that it has probably the most expensive public transport in the world. For a bus ride you pay almost 3 Euros (for a subway/metro ride even twice that) and you can also use the ticket for one ride, even if it’s only 5 minutes, you need to get a new ticket for the next bus. Obviously people living in London all have these RFID-chip-cards which make travelling cheaper (and more controllable by big brother).

In general this visit to London confirmed my first impression that it is a boring town where there’s not much to do. It used to be one of the capitals and birthplaces of rave music but several law regulations (most notably the infamous Rave Act from the 90ies but apparently also regulations concerning the db-level , not to mention the ban of smoking in inside facilities) almost destroyed what was once a flourishing scene.

We spent one day sightseeing and then headed to the Atlantic coast, Newquay to be more precise, where the Bangface weekender was taking place. Before reporting in more detail about this event, I would like to explain to those who don’t know it what it’s all about. Not only is Bangface one of the innovators of a back to the roots approach in raving (also called neo-rave) where different styles of electronic music co-exist in one event (with two dancefloors, the bigger one displaying the better known styles and acts, and the smaller one for more underground music) but it is also a place where the interactive element of the crowd is much higher than in other events: there is always a theme that the organizers announce and then people dress up accordingly to it. In general the vibes are very good although as could be expected from a big rave, there is also a certain amount of totally wasted people (mostly through drinking too much alcohol). This time the theme was super heroes and you could observe all kind of more or less popular and more or less existing superheroes, including a Freddie Mercurdy look-a-like (I guess that’s british humour ;)).

The line-up on the main floor featured the who’s who of contemporary electronic music, especially of the darker / harder side: an eclectic set from the Outside Agency aka Hidden & Eye-D from the Netherlands, Current Value from Germany, Venetian Snares from Canada and last but not least one of the rare live appearances of Aphex Twin who lives not far from the venue.

Unfortunately the PA on the main floor had almost no subbass which made dancing a very odd experience. I spoke with some other ravers and we agreed that an important part was missing and that e.g. The Venetian Snares (which was excellent regarding music, very wild and non-commercial) was more like watching TV than raving which is not a good sign at all. My highlights were Current Value who played a very hard, futurtistic drum’n’bass set and Aphex Twin, especially the middle part where he played some excellent acid techno-influenced music which made me dance like crazy. His set was also the closing set of the weekend and the arena was packed which made it hard to breath and dance (I spent the second half outside just in front of the entrance where the air was much more agreeable).

We met some very nice people, especially from Jake and Josh and their friends from Manchester who shared the same vibe as well as some Belgian people who were into the same music as us. Like I said, in general the vibes were very good and it was nice to be part of it despite the little imperfections which were not the organizer’s fault though.

CONTINUED IN PART 2 (feat. Dolphins :))

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