It was 6am Monday morning and we found ourselves running through the streets of Amsterdam in a desperate attempt not to miss our train to the airport. We did of course land up missing the train by mere seconds; the harsh reality of which was only to be the beginning of a series of testing misfortunes. Just before boarding, our flight was delayed due to bad weather. This didn’t throw much of a spanner in the works as we still managed to catch our connecting flight in Hamburg and arrive in Budapest when we intended. The problem was once in Hungary our entire flight’s luggage seemed to be misplaced.
I understand the system is flawed and when you travel your bag may just be the one to go for a bit of a wonder around. I’ve also been quite lucky in the sense that it’s never happened to me before, well not until today, my day of luggage reckoning. The only question I still have is how did no one notice there was no baggage on board? I mean the pilot probably thought to himself, “Feels awfully lite today, either the crew must be on a new diet or we forgot all the bags behind”. Faced with an awkward situation and one crazy language barrier to overcome we opted to change our shuttle tickets and spend a night close by to hopefully sort this out before heading to the festival the next day.
It turns out Hungary is really affordable, and after a visit to Tesco we had all the essentials needed to survive while they located our belongings. The next day we headed back to the airport equipped with a lot of patience and perseverance to find out where our stuff was. We were semi successful as we learnt one of the bags had already been delivered to the festival, while the other was still on a holiday. It was enough good news for me, and we were off, straight on the bus to the promised land. For those who don’t know the drug laws in this particular country are pretty strict. En route to the festival we went through quite a thorough search, where we were made to stand out in the rain (light rain, let’s not be too dramatic now) while trained dogs had a sniff of the bus.
Before attending my first Ozora Festival it was described to me as ‘the mother’, a nurturing environment in which to learn, grow, connect and thrive as one tribe. Imagine my curiosity after having such a vision of this festival for so many years. It was finally time for me to weigh in with an opinion of my own. The festival officially ran from 29 July – 3 August, but there were before and after parties which ran for about two days either side of the main action. We walked beneath the famous ‘welcome to paradise’ sign as we entered the festival to get armbands and collect what turned out to be my girlfriend’s bag. After a quick look at the map we decided to catch a taxi to the chillout, avoiding a long journey across the festival grounds which seemed endless.
We set up camp centrally by the chillout in close proximity to the food stalls and showers. There were also communal eating areas near by which needed an immediate visit to curb appetites. After what would not be our last lasagne we wondered about and settled in. Finally we came to the top of the meadows, above the main dancefloor, where many sat in anticipation for the opening ceremony.
The opening ceremony consisted of acrobats and the manipulation of fire. Fire is a symbol for the awareness of the higher self. It is used for the purification of the area at the beginning of the festival to keep thoughts pure and clean the mind of doubt, indecision and polluted thoughts. In order to experience this state of awareness, one needs to purify yourself of the many thoughts and emotions that distract you from focusing one`s attention on the present moment. And what an incredibly special present moment followed as the psychedelic band the Ozric Tentacles opened Ozora Festival 2014.
As the sun set behind picturesque hills we grabbed a few beers from the bar and planted roots on the dancefloor for what was to be a turbulent first Ozorian evening. Spectra Sonics was the first trance act of the festival, slamming it from the get go. The energy during the first set was indescribable. The anticipation was built perfectly toward this full on extravaganza of sound. The sound quality was amazing. The rig purred like a waking tiger sending goose bumps rippling across our bodies.
Highlights of the night were definitely Zero1 Music boss Justin Chaos and Fagin’s Reject from Wildthings Records, showing off his new album Dirty Protest. We stayed awake till the next morning when Lorraine and Toxic both blew me away. It was incredible to be on the Ozora dance floor so early in the morning as the sun rose and only a few hundred souls remained swaying together in unison.
Wednesday was a day of relaxation for us as the festivities of the opening night were slowly creeping up on us. We did manage to make some pizzas at the cooking grove and have several naps, but other than that we were fairly useless. Awakening from dysfunction late afternoon while Rocky was in charge of the soundwaves, we wondered to the artist area to meet up with fellow South Africans and pick up some backstage passes (the Ozorian equivalent to a golden ticket to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory). The days are scorching at Ozora and this sometimes leads to thunderstorms at night. As we looked to the distance it was evident we were about to get our first taste of one of these storms. Running through the rain, slipping and sliding, we finally made it back to our tent where we would seek refuge for the night.
Thursday was a day of far more activity as we were on the dancefloor early for new Tip Records sensation Martian Arts. The Greek produces a technically complex and uniquely tweaked sound which went down especially well for breakfast. My particular favourite of the set was Martian Arts & Black Noise – Time Paradox, recently released on Nano Record’s Sacred Vibrations compiled by Dala.
Next we went to Chambok House for Raja Ram’s lecture, ‘The Shortcut Guide to Enlightenment’. Chambok House is where many lectures and workshops took place, none of which were more attended than when Raja was laying down some wisdom. I can’t tell you the secrets he shared with us, for that you will need to come to Ozora yourself. It was a privilege to attend and gather a bit of perceptive from someone who has witnessed the formation of this psychedelic trance culture we now find ourselves a part of.
Some Sonic Masala was on the menu for lunch, with Zentura the head chefs, plating dish after dish of deliciousness for beat hungry patrons. It was my first time hearing the Ace Ventura & Zen Mechanics double whammy live set. I think it’s fair to say they lived up to the hype. D-Nox & Beckers were busy dropping a 7 hour monster set on the Pumpui stage, so naturally we went to investigate. The Pumpui stage was a far smaller and more intimate dance floor which was to be found undercover. We were inside a techno caldron with D-Nox & Beckers the conjurers creating a mixture of both exciting and soothing melodies.
Grouch closed the day on the main floor. The kiwi has his own hybrid style of psychedelic techno funk. The atmospheres that flowed forth from his sound immersed the dance floor in a playful state. The tequila at this point was plentiful, and the energy on the dance floor was the best it had been thus far, or so I’m tempted to say.
Later I made the solo quest to get my bag back, which had finally been delivered to the festival. It was however at the entrance, so I had to catch a lift with someone from the VIP and hitchhike back with a lovely Russian couple. Revelling in the success of getting my hands on my elusive luggage, I got fresh and went to get some dinner with a fellow South African who was leaving for Boom Festival the next day. The one lesson I had learnt from this missing baggage situation is how little we actually need. Being at Ozora the basics for living are provided and with a bit of creative thinking and looking after one’s self your stay can always be comfortable. We sat upon one of the new features at Ozora, the magnificence staircase which links the main floor to the area where the Mirador, Artibarn, Pyramid and Wheel of Wisdom are located on top of the hill, but more about those things later.
Antispin were busy throwing down some serious twilight fever before Scorb shot us into the next dimension. The triple threat was complete as Southwild of Wildthings Records took over adding the squelch to an already eventful evening. The visual mappings were out of control; accompanied by the avatar like tree tentacles in the middle of the dance floor, which seemed to almost breathe colours as different lights seamlessly ran through it, your eye was constantly stimulated. Feeling pretty psychedelic after a good helping of quality night beats I was off to bed, making use of the live to fight another day approach which was sorely lacking on the first night.
Friday we had a breakfast feast consisting of everything from burgers, to fruit, to chocolate milks from the makeshift supermarket. We would need all the stamina we could muster as we had another deadly afternoon triple threat coming our way. Easy riders, Zen Mechanics and Ace Ventura, a better script couldn’t be written in Hollywood. All three unsurprisingly delivered exactly want the party required. A highlight of the Zen Mechanics set was E-Clip Vs Zen Mechanics – Flashback, recently released on Iono Music. Ace Ventura undoubtedly stole the show, as he does have a tendency to do. The crowd were in utter daytime raptures as the fire marshals brought the fire truck onto the back of the dance floor and created a water carnival of mud creatures and wild sun basking beings. Ace Ventura playing four encores plays testament to the quality of his sound and his connection with the crowd. The speakers finally relinquished their pulse to a roar of appreciation; now that was good fun.
We wondered into the meadows outside the festival grounds where we unintentionally began herding a flock of sheep. Apologising to the Hungarian sheep herder was also challenging as he didn’t have any idea what we were saying. After some quiet relaxation away from the festival we headed back to have a shower and make it to bed before another storm hit. My girlfriend, braver than I, went to have dinner in the evening while the rains came down. These were some torrential rains causing pathways to become rivers. Thunder and lightning also featured during the stormy hours. I was deep within my sleeping bag of protection and going nowhere soon. I was slightly heartbroken at the fact my girlfriend didn’t get me anything to eat, but I guess it would have been a soggy mess by the time it got to me, so I forgive her.
Saturday morning like clockwork the storm had cleared and the sun was out once more. I paid the fresh fruit market a visit to pick up some watermelon and headed to the grassy embankment next to the dance floor to hear Kox Box and Dick Trevor rip up the late morning session. I did also manage to check out some of the happenings at the Artibarn. The Artibarn plays host to a diverse array of arts and crafts workshops. The different workshops include Bodypainting, Stonemagic, Jewellery and Talisman creation, Henna workshops, Glowing mandala workshops, Zodiac Lounge workshops and Mana Prima Painting. I also noticed on the sides of this building and Chambok house were collective murals to get involved in. I liked the emphasis on the collective. It’s truly special when people can create things together in harmony.
Let’s talk about some of the art installations shall we? Their subtleties make up a huge element of the Ozorian experience. Each piece has an existential meaning and purpose. I am only going to share a few with you. I don’t want to dilute the mystical nature of the gathering by giving too much away. Okay, the first one I really liked is the ‘Guardian Angels’ by Bence Zsin. The aim was the formation of an object expressing calmness and protection. Something that expresses dignity, although it lets other forces effect it (the swaying wind). So came into existence from seven bamboo sticks and seven sheets of white canvas, the guardian angel’s synchronous flight. These angels look like sails of arriving ships from the horizon above the dance floor, symbolizing the safe environment in which we find ourselves and also how we are composed, yet easiest influenced by the world around us.
The other installation I will mention is ‘Cradles’ by Bence Knyihár. You see the sky if you lie in this cradle. You may be inquisitive and you may play with your thoughts in such a way that you learn something new about yourself. If you get bored of it, you can climb out from your cradle and carry on your life, which may now begin again on another route. Bence created three adult-sized cradles to be used by festival goers. These are placed in different locations. One in a tree lined area, the other in a busy area, and the third on a hilltop with a beautiful view. The cradles represent the three stages of life, youth, middle age and elder age.
Back dance floor side Egorythmia was the highlight of the afternoon. His rhythms were fierce, purely organic floating grooves. Stand out track of the set for me was definitely Egorythmia & Dual Resonance – Faster than Light, this one was far too banging for its own good. We decided to attend another one of Raja’s talks at Chambok House, this one entitled, ‘The History into the Mystery of my Life so far through Music’. A really interesting hour spent getting to know Mr.Ram a bit better. Fellow Cape Towian, Headroom, graced the main stage next. A name very familiar to us, it was good to see him rocking a European dance floor. Highlight of his set was X – Noize Vs Headroom – What Is It?, released on Nano Records. Friends of ours had the South African flag flying during the set in perhaps the most patriotic moment of their lives.
Waio, Everblast and Braincell cracked things up and took us into the evening. This was definitely the night to get lost in the music. Tristan was on just after nine, dispersing incredible energy and symbiotic frequencies that would be felt by all. My favourite tracks of this absolute blaster of a set were Tristan and Raja Ram – Beautiful Garden and Tristan & Magik – Blue Shaft; both are out of this world and sent the dance floor over the edge in the best possible way.
At a festival of this magnitude it’s impossible to have a main attraction, but for me my most anticipated set was Ajja up next. Perhaps it was because I kept missing his sets at European festivals, or perhaps it was because his music just hits you like no other, whatever the reason excitement levels were high. During his set live visionary art was created upon a blank canvas next to him with a few artists contributing to the creation. Ajja – Bazinga was a really powerful track in his set. I think the biggest treat of the night was that his solo act flowed into his project Yam Yum with Gaspard. Three hours of congruently divine magic, how else can I describe it? It was beautiful. We took in the heat of the huge bonfire at the back of the dance floor with some newly made friends before calling it a night.
Sunday was the last day of music on the main stage, but we rarely made it to dance floor and chose to check out some of the other aspects of Ozora. Artists which deserve a mention for their last day psychedelic heroics however, were Earthspace and Thatha, both were truly phenomenal.
We had a wonder round the Mirador, which plays host to all the visionary art and also serves at a lookout point across the entire festival area. I particularly liked the pieces by Android Jones, personal preserve of course. We were at the Dragon’s nest during the closing concert of the music workshop, and it was brilliant. This left me feeling somewhat neglectful for not having spent more time on this interesting and fun dance floor. There’s always next year though. That’s the thing about Ozora; it’s not a festival you are supposed to only attend once. It’s something you develop a relationship with and keep coming back to. Each year it grows, why not grow with it?
Celli aka Earthling closed the festival in true full on Ozorian style. The speakers were now allowed a well deserved rest after several days of blasting. We followed suit having an early night. We stayed at the venue for a few more days to come, having a wiggle on the Pumpui from time to time, drinking some Ozorian Spirit (a Hungarian drink made from fermented fruit), and enjoying the quiet as many had left. We got a transfer back into Budapest the one evening to begin a new chapter of adventures. I will always have space in my heart for this magical place called Ozora. Huge thanks must go to Adam and the rest of the Ozorian crew for having us, and for the wonderful hospitality. Psymedia will definitely be seeing you guys again soon!
Photos by Yonatan Benaksas, Pawel Wieloch, Ildikó Répáczky, Bobby C. Alkabes and Shahar Ratzenberg