What image do the words “Smoking Dragon” evoke in your mind? Breath-taking alpine scenery? Visionary sounds? Smouldering fires? Translucent waters? This is indeed what you will find at this year’s ninth annual Smoking Dragon New Year’s Eve music celebration.
Amphitheatre Backpackers hosts the festival on the 29th, 30th and 31st Of December. A newly tarred road leads you through awe-inspiring mountains to this popular destination, set on the edge of Royal Natal National Park. Embraced by the panorama of the Northern Drakensberg the venue is conveniently located midway between Jozi and Durbs.
There are 6 stages, each with their own theme and focus. The Empire merges Kweito and Hip Hop, House and Afro Pop and is curated by film producer, Azola Qongqo assuring a production of intense high end, quality performances, lighting, stage design and choreography and wow what a classic line up. It reads like the who’s who of SA music. Including big names like DJ Fresh, Big Nuz, DJ Zinhle, Euphonik, Zola 7, Da Cop and Glen Lewis. The vision is to unify all forms of musical entertainment in SA, bringing a variety of sounds to one stage, uniting new and old subcultures, bridging the gap between the 90’s and 2018.
The Mainstream has popular appeal with big names like; Mi Casa, Monark, December Streets and Phfat gracing its stage. Although there are always classic acts on the bill, Smoking Dragon truly stands out from other conventional festivals by choosing rising stars with meaningful messages and oodles of talent, over those that simply sell tickets. Examples of these would be the world-class electronic duo Lo-Ghost, Sun Xa Experiment or Kongo Elektro. Women are also often-overlooked in the industry and so The Mainstream showcases only female-fronted acts on the first night. Patrons will be treated to the thrilling pianist Busijazz, wild rockers Cortina Whiplash and young Holly-Rey who is taking the country by storm.
The Electric Jungle the official EDM area – like all the other stages – explores multiple genres and thus draws people from different worlds together. Here the headliners include upcoming three-time SAMA Award-winning producer Sun-El, Pascal & Pearce, Mark Stent, Das Kapital, Ryan Murgatroyd, Hippie Mafia and Haezer to name a few.
The Ripple Stage overlooks one of the dams, a chilled and popular hangout in the day as the hordes cool down to the tunes of world music DJs like Mystikal Ebony, Aphro Hlophe and Eye-On Feather. Solo acts include Gavin W Ferguson, Werner Bekker and Johnny Deville, topped off with acoustic bands like TUG, Soundwarmer or House of Kumba. The Fringe is the place where superstars are born. An area designed to support Hip Hop newbies and give slam poets a platform to say their thing! The stage welcomes poets, acoustic acts and beatboxers. Above all The Fringe supports musicians who believe that art can be used to transform society.
Unique to Smoking Dragon is The Pink Tent a fun and LGBT – a friendly area that upholds one of the core principals of the festival – all people are welcome. This is one of the most loved spaces as people feel free to be who they want to be without any risk of harassment. The audience is warmed up each day with live acts like Tony Bala, Andy Mkosi, Msaki, Peter Ngqibs and Rainbow Abomination. Performance artists like Mx Blouse and Umlilo & Stash add some drama. The nights rev up with top DJs like Kyle Worde, Hyroine, Verandah Panda, Abby Nurock, Simstar and ANG as well as international DJs Chanel Cochrane (UK) and The General (AUS)
Fab ablutions, gourmet food stalls, a flea market and the most incredible VIP ZONE (complete with Jacuzzi, rock pool and sauna) ensure that this year’s Smoking Dragon Festival will be the most professional and enjoyable one to date.