This was my 3rd year at SSF, and it’s something I have always really looked forward to – a weekend away, spent with wonderful women, doing soul enriching workshops.
Sadly this year was really disappointing though 😦 The weather started off terrible (rainy, cold and very windy), which didn’t get things going with a good vibe to start with…. but this is the second year I’ve been a performer there, and I won’t be doing it again. Certainly not participating in the concert nights anyway. I think my festival experience would have been much greater if I hadn’t been performing, because there are some organisational issues that take the shine off the festival if you’re a performer.
The problems started before the festival really. When we had put our performer application in, I’d said in the spot where you talk about anything you need, that we needed a powered site (since we’d be getting dressed for the night performances and needed a lamp for light)…. but when our application was accepted and I e-mailed to ask how to pay for the powered site, I found out they had forgotten to allocate me a powered site, and they were now all booked out. So we were then trying to decide if we should drop out or not, since it was going to be too difficult to get ready in a dark campsite, or going into the public toilets to get ready. Luckily I found out a friend had got a powered site, and we organised to camp with them. Life saver!!
This year they opened it up on the Thursday, so people could come in from 4pm onwards to get setup (since the workshops started a bit earlier on the Fri). So we had booked the early settlers tickets to come on the Thurs. I was hoping it was going to give us an extra night of drum circles and awesome festival experience, but sadly it was bloody cold and wet and barely anyone seemed to be around 😦
The powered sites were numbered and allocated this year (last year it wasn’t). So this was the site we were allocated:
We did manage to get the 2 vans, a car and a market tent set up in the space…. and the trees did end up providing something to tie the tent to, to make sure it didn’t blow away (unlike other people’s tents)….. but it wasn’t the most ideal of spots…. and most other sites had no trees in them.
After we’d got set up (around the rain), we went to the info tent to ask about booking a powered site for next year. I’d asked online about booking one, and was told they didn’t know, so to go to the info tent as soon as I got to the festival. I’d intended to buy next year’s ticket there too (since they are cheaper at the festival), but the prices had gone up, so I’d not brought enough money to buy a ticket and have some spending money 😦 But I figured if I could book the powered site, I could buy my ticket online later. But they weren’t organised yet to book anything and told me to come back the next morning.
Since it was cold and miserable, we decided we’d buy some hot dinner. The board said you got something I can’t remember (made from beef and lamb), served with garlic roast potatoes – which sounded yum, despite the hefty $15 price…. But what we ended up with was 2 handmade sausages, 2 wedges of potato (that didn’t taste of garlic, and both those and the sausages were only slightly warm), an a handful of salad. So that was really disappointing. Definitely not worth anywhere near $15 😦 When you’re budgetting like I am, it’s annoying to waste money on something that isn’t worth it.
Since there was nothing seemingly happening around the festival, we went to bed and watched some youtube videos 😛
The airbed had a catastrophic leak…. that we were unable to locate to fix. So since the seats of the van don’t fold down flat…. (And Cathy had a bad cough) we had an “interesting” (read: extremely uncomfortable) night sleep… 😛
Went down to the info tent to ask about the powered site booking…. they still weren’t organised and asked me to come back the next day. *sigh*
We also found someone had parked their car in our campsite spot….. Admittedly it wasn’t marked out with tape on one side (but there was a log, tree stump and tree marking that boundary) so wasn’t as obvious as it could have been but still, they had parked in what was our spot. I went to talk to someone directing traffic who was only a few metres away, who basically just asked if it matters…. We’re like “yes! not only is this our space we paid extra for, but we have someone else joining us in a couple of hours and they can’t get in if that car is there!”. So, since she didn’t have a radio or anything, eventually she just said to go to the info tent. So I wrote them a note to leave on the car, got the rego number and walked down to the info tent. On the way we passed some leftover bits of the tape they had been using to mark out the sites, so we got some of that to go on the side that wasn’t taped off, to make it more obvious where our spot was…. While Cathy was doing that, I went to the info tent to tell them about the car – but thankfully as she had been putting up the tape, the woman had come to her car, and had then (begrudgingly) moved it. So as I was telling the info tent what happened, Cathy came up to say it was moved. *Phew*
While at the info tent….. they had started setting out the merchandise they were selling – which was cool – but including a “Lunette menstrual cup”. Which wasn’t (either cool or a Lunette :P). It was one of these: http://www.aliexpress.com/item/big-discount-women-fancy-silicone-menstrual-cup-china-supplier/2027360423.html (selling for $40). So I talked to the woman selling them, and explained that not only is “Lunette” a brand name, so calling those cups a Lunette is fraudulent/misleading/IP theft (basically trying to use the Lunette name to sell cheap cups)…. but also only menstrual cups that are registered with the TGA are allowed to be sold in Australia, and those cups to my knowledge aren’t. So selling them (under any name) would be illegal. So she asked if I was sure (I explained I’m a Lunette stockist, so yes, I am sure).. so said she would look into that and remove them.
I went past a bit later to see if they had removed them – they hadn’t. They had crossed out the name “Lunette” on their sign (but not in the reference of them being in the showbag thing they were selling). So I asked about them again. She called someone else over and I explained everything again to them. They said they couldn’t take my word for it, and I said I understand that, feel free to look it up. She ended up talking to the festival creator, who said to remove them from sale – and they weren’t on the table when I walked past through the festival, so I don’t know if they continued to put them in the showbags (since they didn’t reduce the price for those)… but at least they stopped obviously selling them, and stopped advertising them as a Lunette.
I got to do a workshop on how to make felt! Best part of the festival 😀 We made arm cuffs, which was awesome. We were supposed to make 1, but some of us cut the piece in half to make a matching pair. Basically you put down fine layers of wool roving, add decorations, then another fine layer, then felt it by rubbing your hands over it. I used purple and teal wool of course 😀 I just need to add buttons now. I can definitely appreciate how come hand-felted items cost so much now…. it took an hour and a half to make the one arm cuff (or 2 if you cut the one in half)!!!
We were performing in the Friday night concert. Originally we were meant to do 2 acts (with a costume change), but since I had injured my ankle, we’d not been able to rehearse as much as we needed to – so we’d dropped one slot and were going to add an extra roving section in on the Sat night instead.
But when we went to get all dolled up for our performance, the power to our powered camping site was out 😦 Seems like the pole we were connected to was overloaded, as none of the sites around us had power either. So that made it a bit challenging to get ready by torchlight. Thankfully I’d put my makeup on earlier while it was light. But we got ready, got a pre-performance pic (in the loos, where it was light lol ) and set out to go find what the deal was with who you give your music to (since none of that info is provided)
Went to the staff house thing to ask where to take our music to (since I couldn’t see a sound desk or anything)…. a woman came out and said something I couldn’t understand, then when I asked her to repeat it, she said she would take us there…. as we walked she said something else I couldn’t understand, when she repeated it, I realised it was “can you hold my wine” (she’d had a cup under her arm and was trying to roll a cigarette at the same time)…. and that the reason I’d been unable to understand her, was that she was drunk 😦 She led us to behind the stage. I looked around, no sound desk or anything. So I asked what we do with our music and held up the CD. She does the “ohh… you have music…. ohh…. ohh… shit…. ohh…… umm…. I don’t know….” thing, then takes the CD and goes off somewhere….. We’re standing there, a mixture of being pissed off and anxious that we’re about to perform and we’re not even sure now where our music is. So I go off to find someone else, they take me straight to the sound desk (which I’d not seen on the other side of the stage, I’d just thought it was people in the crowd). On the way I see the drunk lady walking off elsewhere, and I mention that I don’t know where our music is – the NewLady says that DrunkLady gave it to her and she’d given it to the stage manager. When we get there, and I explain to the stage manager what happened (without mentioning the DrunkLady being drunk), the stage manager said something about DrunkLady being the least helpful volunteer she’d ever come across, so I commented that I think she was off her face…. the NewLady said that DrunkLady had a bad day. Which may be the case, but I really don’t think that people who are in charge of helping run a festival should be drunk on their shift, no matter how bad a day they had.
….. as an aside, at one point during the festival one of my camping buddies had gone to the staff house to complain about the fact our powered camping site had no power… when my friend did the “hello” and gone to say her problem, they snapped a “are you here about the car?” – meaning the car that was attached to a caravan and parked across the road preventing anyone from leaving the area if there was an emergency (which is just stupid and dangerous)…. to which my friend said no, but that she was glad they knew about it, and told her about the power…. their reply was something along the lines of that everyone has problems and that she’d only had 2 jack daniels today! (seriously?)…..
Anyway…. the stage manager then says that there is a problem – there is no power! The act that was on must have been acoustic guitar or something I’d not noticed, but they had no power to be able to play our CD. So they asked if we could perform without the music, and I explained that we couldn’t. I asked if they knew if the power was going to be back on later. They didn’t know. Another lady standing there was also a performer, who was supposed to have been on before us. So I asked if they expected us to stand around in our costumes in the cold just waiting to see if the power does even come back on…. and yes 😦 I think she then mentioned they were planning to move over to the Chai Tent stage, since they had a generator – but that stage is set up for musicians, and would barely be enough space for 1 dancer, let alone 2. So that wasn’t an option. So I go over and explain all that to Cathy, who is as pissed off as I am…. we’re trying to work out what we’re going to do. We decided that we weren’t prepared to stand around freezing on the off chance that they might restore power later (since they lost power at last year’s event too, and that didn’t come on again until the following morning)… so we grabbed a “disappointed we couldn’t perform” selfie and called it a night 😦
It was annoying for a few reasons…. not only had we choreographed that piece, so there was months of planning and rehearsing for it…. but all through the day we had people recognise us from the previous year, or had seen us in the program and had said they were looking forward to watching us perform. Cathy had even bought a new camera specifically to film our dance in the low-light that night!
I don’t know what the issue was exactly, but people had been saying (same as the year before) that they had overloaded the power – that the concert stage just takes more power than the site can provide. One of the stallholders was pissed off too because they didn’t have power for their stalls and had to close them down too.
We later found out that one of the dance acts who was performing that night too, did move to the Chai Tent, but one of the performers fell off the stage it was that cramped! Ugh.
That night I tried to sleep in the van, but the uneven seats was just hurting me, so in the end I grabbed my sleeping bag, pillow, a towel to use as a blanket… and I rugged up and set myself up a “bed” outside by sitting in one camp chair with my feet on another. Needless to say, that wasn’t especially comfortable (though better than in the van), was cold, and I was irritated by mozzies….. I was feeling so depressed about everything, I spent part of the night crying and wondering whether I should just call hubby to come and get me 😦 So much for a wonderful empowering weekend away.
After thinking “surely things can’t get worse”…..We had a little argument (fueled by the fact we were tired and pissed off at the stuff from the night before) – which ended when the people in the caravan next to us shouted at us to stop and that we were ruining the festival for them. Despite the fact we were not being obnoxious or too loud and were in the process of one of those “pouring out your heart” moments….
We had intermittent power in our supposedly powered site…. enough to start cooking some hashbrowns for brekky in the sandwich toaster, but not for long enough to cook them. We ended up having to ask the staff to charge our phones and things that we would need to use for the night roving, or else we would run the risk of not having the ability to do it, if we weren’t able to charge them ourselves.
A bit later, we were walking around looking at the market stalls in the morning….. and several people had commented that they had missed us the night before and were really looking forward to seeing us performing – so we apologised and explained about the night before, and told them to look out for us roving that night and the following day…. It wasn’t raining and looked like things might start to improve.
Then the festival manager came over and asked if we were in the powered camping area, and could we have a meeting in the staff house in half an hour. We asked why, and she wouldn’t say. (I was wondering if they were going to get mad at us for sharing a powered site between friends). So we’ve told her we would be at a workshop then, why couldn’t we talk about it now. She then told us that people had made complaints about us – that we were loud and aggressive… and that we were ruining the integrity of the festival. We were like “WTF!?”. We said that we knew we’d had an argument this morning, and swear a bit, but it wasn’t loud or aggressive at all… and that the night before we had heard 2 people having a massive argument across the roadway from us, shouting at eachother, aggressively… could people have thought that was us? The lady said no, they know it was us… that if it was one argument that would have been ok, but 5 people had complained and from far reaching into the campground too…. and that “you know what you did”…. ???? ….. We were left scratching our heads and wondering what the hell…. Yes, we do swear (usually in a descriptive context, eg “it was bloody cold”), but they have had performers on stage using very offensive language and I wouldn’t have thought we were that bad that would warrant a complaint – and certainly we weren’t loud and aggressive, or loud enough to be heard by people through the campgrounds … 😦
So then we were both thinking maybe we should just pack up and leave. Certainly we no longer felt welcome…
I really don’t know what the issue was…. Apparently while we were out once, (but the other 2 we were camping with were home), a fellow camper came over to ask to borrow the kettle… and our friends said didn’t feel right lending out stuff that wasn’t theirs….. then the people who had asked for it apparently went back to their campsite and were bitching about how stuck up we were for not lending out the kettle So I don’t know if that prompted them to complain about us out of spite?….. if there were more than one from that campsite complaining, maybe that was why there were supposedly 5 people complaining (maybe not 5 different people, maybe a group of 5 people?).
We (and all 4 of us in the campsite I will say, not just Cathy and I) had been bitching about how poorly run the festival was, and maybe some of the volunteers or organisers were camping around us and heard us, that could have been part of it maybe? maybe they were pissed off about me pointing out the Lunette cups thing?… maybe they were pissed off we didn’t agree to hang around the night before and perform in the Chai Tent?…. Maybe they were pissed off about our “sad we couldn’t perform” selfie that we tagged them in?…. I can see how they can have considered that complaining about the lack of power and issues like that to be “ruining the integrity of the festival”…. although frankly the fact there was no power for the performers to actually perform, ruined the integrity of the festival without us needing to say anything …… I don’t know. To me that makes more sense to why they wanted a “meeting” though….. if it was just that we were a bit loud, then surely just asking us to be mindful of neighbours would have sufficed….. If they wanted to discuss how it’s not appropriate for performers to point out issues with the venue, that seems more of a “meeting” scenario. Anyway, we certainly weren’t doing what they accused us of… and have no idea what that was all about.
We just wanted to leave, but we were parked at the back of the site, so would have had to get our friends to move their van to let us out. I also felt that while I did just want to go home, we’d planned elaborate costumes for our roving slots, and that since we’d told people to look out for us roving, we would disappoint them (and ourselves) if we didn’t do the roving…. and that we would be the “better man” so to speak if we continued on despite the fact the festival was not going as we’d hoped and some people clearly hated us.
We did the Go Disco workshop, which was fun, but still didn’t cheer us up. So we had a chat with our camping buddy about the possibility of us leaving…. who suggested we just ignore what was said – that she couldn’t see we’d done anything wrong….. and we eventually decided to stick it out.
I will say though, that things did improve after that… The rain had finally stopped, the sun was out and things were seeming a bit more cheerful…. People were starting to come out to sunbake and hang out in the main area and the festival started to feel “festive” for the first time during the weekend.
So we got a pizza (was also pricey, at $15 for a small one – but DELICIOUS! so worth it), bought some cool flow rings, and got hennaed while chilling out in the sun.
That was what the festival should be like!!!!!
Saturday night we did an awesome Polynesian dance workshop with Nuholani, which ended with the ability to perform with them on the stage. It was supposed to be timed so the workshop ended and we would go straight to the stage to dance, but of course things weren’t running to time, so we were originally told we’d have wait around for an hour before we went on…. and some people left. It ended up being more like about 15 mins I think. (long enough to get all cold and stiff) But we hung around and did it, which was cool.
After that we got MOAR PIZZA! 😀 and dressed to do our night time roving – wearing special outfits that glowed (with el-wire and glow sticks), with music from Tron playing on a portable speaker. As it turned out, with the noise of the festival, we decided to skip the music and just sort of waft around dancing to background music. We danced at the drumming circle for a while. We got so many comments from people walking past who said our outfits were amazing!
Photos don’t really show it well, especially in the dark, but you get the idea. I made a video but because I put the Tron music over the top (since you couldn’t hear music in the video), youtube removed it 😦
We were going to go back to the drumming circle to hang out after we got changed into regular clothes – but we found out they had a curfew, since someone in the mums & bubs camping area complained that the drumming was too loud (despite the concert night music blaring out far later than that without being curfewed)… which was a shame 😦 The drumming circles are a HUGE part of the festival experience for us, so it was a shame it was closed off early. Especially since it was apparently the mums complaining it kept them awake, not the babies …… the festival is definitely not quiet at night, so I’d think it isn’t a place to come if you need quiet to sleep…. or camp down the other end, away from the main entertainment area!….
We decided to try sleeping across the car this time, so we were sleeping on the seat, not across it…. which meant you had to sleep with your legs curled up, but it was at least flat and easier to sleep!
Much better morning! I’d wanted to do tai chi, but with very little sleep over the last couple of nights, I slept in. We did a bit of shopping, where I got a new headband and a cool top…… then got all frocked up to do our last roving, our “nature” themed set.
It was funny because we would walk into an area and intend to do a bit of dancing, and we would have so many people ask us for photos, we seemed to spend more time posing for photos than dancing 🙂 But then people would ask if they just missed our performance or if we were about to perform on stage – and we’d say we were roving, so we could dance for them now! We had quite a crowd watching us at one point.
We ended up walking around and dancing for an hour. A woman came over and asked us if we could be in the closing ceremony, which we felt pretty chuffed about. But when we asked about it later (to clarify what we were doing) we found out that apparently that lady doesn’t actually run things (though she thinks she does lol), so we weren’t going to be in the ceremony. Which was both a shame and a relief 😛
Because we roved later and longer than I’d ideally wanted, I ended up missing out on the “Messy Kitchen Pantry Magick” workshop I’d really wanted to do 😦 and then because we had to get changed back into our outfits for the closing ceremony (even though we weren’t in it…. we’d changed to get cool and have a bit of a break), I had to miss out on Wendy Rule’s performance too 😦 😦 Though as it turns out, the power was out again (what a surprise), so she had to cut her performance short because it ruins her voice to have to sing loudly without a mic (totally fair enough). Such a shame, since there was power/cabling issues when she performed last year too….
So the Sunday ended up being a great day, and that was a nice way to end the festival.
I didn’t end up finding out if I could book a powered site for next year, since I decided I’m not sure if I will be going next year. We had planned that MiniObsi and I would go together, since she’s been wanting to come for years….. I definitely wouldn’t perform there again, but after all the hassles and bad feelings of the festival, I wasn’t sure I even wanted to go as a regular person next year either.
While it is fun performing there and having people think you’re great and want to take your photo 😛 The performing adds a LOT of extra stress (and you need to pack more)…. So I think I’d rather just pay full price and not have to worry about anything else.
There are still a few problems they have, which just frustrate me. It has such an awesome potential as a festival, but a lot of “teething troubles” and communication issues that really should be sorted out by now. I overheard several people complaining about things, and not feeling they got their moneys worth. One group saying they wouldn’t be coming back.
There was one time when we were at the staff house trying to get someone to charge the phone for us (since our power was out)…. and there were volunteers in one of the buggies they use to drive around the site – who didn’t know how to drive it, and nobody around did either…. Luckily they didn’t get it working, or they would have run people over who were just wandering around behind it…. or potentially smashed into the house if they went forward too quickly…. in the end one of the volunteers jumped out and just said buggerit, they weren’t doing it. The volunteers need more training (and less booze!)
Though the Sat afternoon and Sunday did redeem it somewhat… it does make me worry about a poor-weather festival. It had such a gloomy depressed vibe on the Thurs and Fri – even before it became more depressing with power issues….. it’s just not as fun when it is cold and rainy…. and since there is no guarantee of good weather, it does make me worry about that for future festivals. What if it’s rainy all weekend next time! But then it could be sunny and awesome.
… I don’t know …