I left the house around noon. A hot day, but the journey to the Vortex
was uneventful. The party was back at the old Grabouw apple orchard
venue, which takes about an hour to get to. I took a walk around, and soon found C&K, and parked next to some Rasta
s (I use Rasta here in the looser sense of the word to mean middle class white
kids growing their hair, smoking lots of dope
and generally experimenting with a less uptight lifestyle on the parents' budget.) they were selling people rocks, um, I mean healing crystal
We actually spent most time hanging out with a whole bunch of friends at the other side of the campsite. The farm was quite full, probably fuller than the organisers anticipated as people were having trouble finding parking.
The afternoon passed uneventfully. Until about 5pm the best strategy for the heat was to get under shade and not do too much. The music started around sundown but we held off until 11pm. Plenty of time for dancing through the night.
Just after 11 I took the small paper square. It had been in my cupboard for a while, and I didn't remeber the brand couldn’t tell what the design was supposed to be from that small area. I hoped that it would still be strong enough. I hadn’t taken acid from 4 or 5 months, and the last one had been an unpleasant tightrope walk through the verbal minefield of a misfiring relationship.
The 11-to-1 Dj was really good. Twisted, psychedelic music but not dark or scary. At midnight there was general cheering and spraying of champagne. I realised that I could see the multicolour phosphor-grid over reality. Time to take the Nexus.
The music got better, way better. Part of my mind was sceptically holding out that I might just be responding to cheap tricks and hard drugs, but those fuzzy serrated noises went straight through my head and wiggled with my lobes. Candy-sharp, lemon-sweet and chunky chewy noise. My mouth fell open in astonishment and my brain melted and ran out. Now that is what I call fun.
A while later I remembered that I had purchased two balloons full of Nitrous Oxide earlier, and had left them in the car. Time to try the combo out. I had tied the necks together. One had deflated, but the other still held enough for a good hit. I rebreathed it several times. The ringing increased, grew … My veins are full of starfish, iridescent, shimmering creatures all climbing towards the center of the spiral … reality is optional. My ears are ringing. Very nice.
I didn’t enjoy the next DJ too much. He was very good at making it go thump, making the beat kick bigtime, but after a while it started to feel like a hustle – the agro and shallowness showing through. It was DJ personality more than anything else. Dead Can Dance’s Lisa Gerard once said something like this in an interview: "Music should make us more than just creatures that eat and shit." This wasn’t it. I started to wonder if there really is more to human existence than consume, reproduce and jostle for status.
I also was losing identification with the crowd. One of the things that attracted me to the trance scene initially was the lack of musclebound lager-louts. That has slowly been changing. They were here in force, and in my space. Never before have I seen so many muscular male shoulders rubbing shoulders. I change over the years, and so does the trance scene, the continual influx of new generations, as I get older. We diverge.
Since the nitrous, I had been finding it a bit harder to breath. The Dance floor was hot, smoky with tobacco and dope, and humid. I was hoping for some wind to blow fresh air to us, my lungs felt oily and sore. Part of this was real, part of this was the trip, and part nitrous. I coughed a couple of times and tried to shake the feeling from my lungs. I debated asking the medics for Ventolin and decided that it was not necessary.
Even away from the smoky sweat of the dance floor it seemed to me that that the air was plastic coated. I heard later that K had been having similar breathing difficulties, also that H’s boyfriend had had serious problems with the Nitrous. With no history of asthma, he had, just after taking it, had a serious respiratory crisis, and after being given Oxygen by the Medics, had gone back home. To he honest the sight of people sucking on balloons and then falling about on the Dancefloor and chewing on each other is not an inspiring, community-enhancing thing. The organisers are not happy with it. Fun though it is, I don’t think that Nitrous has a big future here.
I got tired of the uninspiring music and went to find the other campers. Looking at the surroundings, I realised that the acid had been slow to start, but had crept up on me and was now going like crazy. The walk to the campsite was a long, very long journey through a black and white bombed-out wasteland. Wreckage and vehicles lay strewn all about. Several times I wondered if I had lost my way, but I stuck with it. It was rather post-narrative.
I began to realise one of the keys to this trip. We are all just monkeys. Apes. The reasons why these individuals do things can be explained by their money natures, being social animals. No matter where you go on this planet, you are surrounded by monkeys. This is the planet of the apes.
Back at the tent D- was raving under the influence of lots of dope and some shrooms: So maybe enlightenment is when everything is perfect because you just don't give a fuck ... you can just be ... yaaa! ... it took me 30 years to realise that ... 30 years!
After having regained some sanity and a short rest, I headed back to see what the music was doing. It was past time for the next DJ, but the guy with the dreads hadn't left yet.
Eventually they managed to get the DJ off and congratulate him enough to placate his ego, then another DJ, one of the Flying Rhinos came on. He was decent.
The sky got light, I headed back to the tent, sore of back and leg. There wasn’t much else to do. The acid was calming down. I talked with C, and took a first dose of the meth. There wasn’t much else to do. This was shaping up into a major bender. Instead of putting on I tight top that I had selected for the morning, I put on a loose grey geeky t-shirt. I didn’t want to identify myself in any way with the can-clutching oafs.
We danced, leapt around, and greeted the light, said hello to people we hadn’t seen, in some cases, for a year or two. B- back from Amsterdam. C- back from Los Angeles. Happy 2002 all round.
The western hills were shrouded in clouds and illuminated by the dawn.
Out father who art in heaven
Hallowed by thy name
Thy kingdom come
On earth as it is on television
Television is the new god.
The clouds stopped it getting too hot in the morning, but for the first time in at least five years, we were not rained on over new years night. This is one of the perverse mysteries of Cape Town weather: in the middle of the hot dry summer, rain on this one night is a regular fixture.
Other people, at events further east of us, did however get wet.
The morning passed as it tends to with stimulants: unchallenging fun. When the meth wore off I hit the GHB and jumped around some more. We have hard drugs and no shame.
I tried another balloon of nitrous. In this state, it wasn’t visual at all. Reality rang like a gong. The ringing vibrations of my connection to space-time shook, rippled and momentarily broke. Then I perceived a faraway bleached-out picture of a scene, people moving and slowly this scene came closer and reattached as the vibrations decreased, and I found myself still sitting down, grasping at the ground. Oh my god. The shaking subsided and I found myself mostly back in world-zero, real space again. Whew. World-zero is the foundation layer of our castles of illusions. Without, the rest cannot exist, but it is only the base layer.
When I could dance no more, I spent time talking (my mouth running away with me I fear), using GHB to surf the edge between happy and insensitate. Actually, after meth it’s much harder to knock yourself out with G. Around 1pm the nasty fear and worry set in and I decided it best to head home and hide. I looked pretty worn out in the mirror, but could not sleep. I drifted into a light doze with lucid visuals around 10pm.