Festival review: Nachtdigital 17

I had the opportunity to attend the exclusive Nachtdigital festival in Olganitz, Saxony, from August 1 to 3.

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one-of-a-kind graphic design

It’s all electronic, held in the German countryside in the summer and I say “exclusive” because only 3000 tickets are ever released and the event is consistently sold out straight away.

Olganitz is a village not far from Leipzig and it made for a very lovely drive south from Berlin.

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Most people camp but there are bungalows available too, in the “Bunga Bungalowdorf”.

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My party was camping. We brought enough food and beer for a small army and divided our time between our little tent town and the main stage areas, which, owing to the petite size of the whole operation, was only a three-minute walk away.

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The stages (one main stage, one inside a big tent and a smaller one by the water) are set by the lake, and the weather was hot and perfect for swimming and splashing around. It was a really beautiful place to have a music festival.

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The music was minimal in general – the heavier stuff in the small hours of night and the more ambient at sunrise and during the daylight. Being Europe, music starts in the evening and goes right through until 11am, although a thunderstorm did make everyone stop for an hour or so on the second night.

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I think this is Siriusmo

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Around the grounds there were little hideaway places to party, like this miniature mirror booth.

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And at night the place was lit up by flashes of colour.

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I had no expectations for Nachtdigital but I had heard many positive things which all turned out to be true. The overall pace and buzz was warm and relaxed – everybody was in a good mood. There was something really exciting about beats echoing out through the fields at night, before it was time to see the early European sunrise.

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And no reason to stop dancing, except to soak up the rays.

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Music: The festival’s specialty is exposing lesser-known and underground DJs from around Europe. My highlights were Siriusmo, Robag Wruhme & Roman Flügel, Heatsick (who I have now seen on three different continents), the Doumen Records showcase and the very unique ROD, who unleashed his terrifying bass right after the thunderstorm.

Crowd: Smiley and relaxed. I didn’t see any “antisocial” behaviour at all. The majority of people were young and beautiful and seemed to mostly come from Germany and The Netherlands.

Food and drink: Guests can bring their own booze into the campsite but not the main stage area. The food for sale was actually pretty tasty, with lots of vegetarian options. Drinks were also not through the roof. But if you plan well, you can survive the whole three days without spending any cash at all.

Grounds: A lovely and unique location, in the fields near a small lake surrounded by woods. Toilets were nothing special (portaloos) and the “shower” was just a cold hose with some curtains around it. Luckily, the weather was really warm!

Nachtdigital has quite a following, and I can see why. I’m still listening to this kind of thing, reminiscing.

 

An evening on Lake Ontario

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I was invited to a little beach party on Ward’s Island, in the eastern part of the island cluster just a short ferry ride away from the city. It was my first time on Lake Ontario, and the evening could not have been more fresh and clear and rosy.

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Looking over the lake, there were rogue ducks waddling everywhere and a whole lot of other birds screaming from the next island over. And a party cruise playing music from 2005. It was still lovely.

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When the sun set, we could see lights from the United States twinkling on the horizon.

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Full of beer and giggles and cookies, we caught the last ferry back to the city. The CN tower was all dolled up, as usual.

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Five Days in Mexico City

On my last night in Mexico City I went up to my hostel rooftop with bare feet. There was a cool breeze which carried music from a bar somewhere, and I could see the city lit up all the way to the glittering hills on the horizon.

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Before visiting Distrito Federal I had never set foot in Latin America. Stories and photos from more adventurous amigos had persuaded me to buy some flights from California. It was my first dip into a world that I had previously never given much thought.

I was immediately out of my depth. Arrogance or laziness, probably both, had convinced me that I would get by easily with a couple of vaguely correct (in pronunciation) words of Spanish and a cheerful demeanour. I was completely useless. I couldn’t even order what I wanted to eat (my attempt at procuring a milkshake was a mild disaster) and I stood out painfully with blondish hair and misguided wardrobe choices.

But that was no reason not to enjoy the beauty of the Centro Historico – slightly leaning monuments to colonial grandeur like the National Palace, Palacio de Bellas Artes and the city cathedral.

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Palacio de Bellas Artes

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Cathedral

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Mexico City has, I’ve read, more museums than any other city in the world, and displays its turbulent history with pride. Pre-hispanic cultures are honoured everywhere and I had the opportunity to see a whole lot of artefacts from the Mexica (Aztecs) – the massive Anthropological Museum is one example.

One night I drank some beers at nice little bars in well-to-do areas with some Australian friends who were studying at the biggest public university there. They had a lot of stories and said that they felt like the vastness of Mexico City meant that they hadn’t really been able to scratch the surface. One of them was living in a beautiful casa in lovely Coyoacan, painted red and with a front courtyard where we had a, well, energetic fiesta.

Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera lived together in the same neighbourhood as my friend, for many years in the famous Casa Azul (Blue House). Walking through the museum that is there now, I was almost teary at the love and admiration that had obviously been employed in arranging the objects of the wonderful lady’s colourful and troubled life. Her studio remains intact, with bottles of paint next to the easel with a wheelchair in front of it. Her death mask lies on her “day bed”, wrapped up in a scarf, and her ashes reside on the dressing table in an urn shaped like a toad – apparently referencing her pet name for Diego. There was a special exhibition of her wardrobe – colourful dresses and scarves, but also her medical apparatuses like corsets and braces, decorated with drawings and little mirrors stuck on them. It made me uncomfortable to think that we were all looking at something so personal of Frida’s, but maybe she would have enjoyed the thought.

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Diego Rivera’s work is pretty hard to miss in Mexico City. A very notable example is his mural of Mexican history which adorns the top of the staircase at the National Palace, from where Cortes once ran his new dominion. It’s vivid and slightly unsettling, but striking – what I imagine all his and also Frida’s work to be.

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Behind the National Palace, archaeologists discovered the ruins of the old empire’s centre point – the Templo Mayor.

On my last morning I left my hostel and rushed over to the Palace of the Inquisition. I didn’t even know that it existed until the night before, when, to my delight, I discovered that it now housed a Museum of Mexican Medicine. When I arrived I must have been the only visitor. This grand old building with its bright yellow walls and sunny courtyard – all to myself, although I could only imagine what horrors it had seen in past centuries.

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I spent so long there that I ran out of time to have a last meal of street food tacos with plenty of chilli and lime. I felt like I had seen and learnt so much in a few days that if that was my biggest regret, I did pretty well.

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