Drum and bass is alive and well in South Africa.
Let me start again. Back in 2011 I saw a little post on Facebook about a drum and bass party happening in Newtown, Johannesburg. I have always loved drum and bass and so I thought let me go have a look at what the djs are like in joburg.
I also decided to take my camera with me.
When I arrived I found myself a dodgy little corner and observed. When you walk into a place with a large dslr camera, you do get looked at a little funny, until people get comfortable with who you are and why you are there. So the best approach is to just sit tight and observe. People will come to you.
The scene was interesting, the lighting very challenging, the people all very interested in what I was doing, the music and the party were excellent. It was going to make for some pretty good pictures. And so I started shooting, not knowing where I was or was not allowed, I got in behind the dj, in amongst the crowd and generally everywhere. The lighting was difficult to work with and really tested my low light knowledge and what my camera could do. I left there that night feeling pretty good about drum n bass in South Africa and knowing that I had got some decent frames from this party called Sciencefrikshun.
So the next day I started posting some of the pictures to Facebook and got a great response, I guess that no one was really shooting sciencefrikshun regularly enough for the crowd to catch themselves partying hard. I got it and they loved it. And so I contacted the man who runs the event and said right ‘ you need a photographer shooting these events for you, and not just some of them but all of them. I will do it’. ‘Yes’ was the answer and so little did I know that I would be shooting these parties for the next two and a half years.
Pity I had to wait until next month to get working on it again, I had so many ideas, so many things that I wanted to try after learning from the first one, I soon realised that I wasn’t the only one that couldn’t wait for the next month. There were hundreds of people that couldn’t wait.
I started to get to know everyone, people were friendly, they wanted a picture and to get to know who you are, not like some events where im just ‘the photographer’, but more importantly they wanted to have fun and make new friends. It was a fun place to be.
It was also hard work, loud and smokey and a difficult environment to work in. I can’t remember the amount of times I smashed my head or knees or some body part on any random object which might only be there just for the purpose of causing pain. I would always walk out of there shattered but knowing well that the drum and bass scene in South Africa was wonderfully alive and well and the calibre of dj’s was incredible. I would also get a decent picture every now and then.
Every party inspired me, I realised that there were people out there that loved drum n bass, but not just loved it, it was part of their life. You either love drum n bass or you hate it, there is no grey area. And it shows at sciencefrikshun, you love it.
Every now and then a new dj would fly in from Cape Town to come play for the joburg crowd and man these guys are good. I believe that currently all the best drum n bass dj’s in South Africa are from or in Cape Town. No offence to the Joburg dj’s who are really up there too but there was just something about the way they got the crowd going and the way they played. Fucking unbelievable, to put it lightly.
When you shoot an event like this, and so regularly, you need to start thinking of different ideas and different types of shots to get each time because you can end up with the same type of pictures over and over, but thats what I loved about shooting at sciencefrikshun, I had the freedom to try many different types of shots from all angles and try different lighting techniques, because no-one was saying to me, ‘you have to do this type of work, or you must get this shot’. I really had the freedom to shoot what I wanted to. And when you can shoot like that you can really get some great work and find out what type of style suits they way you work, it’s liberating. I think thats what makes sciencefrikshun so good, its liberating for everybody there. You can let loose!
Then there would be the international dj’s. And they would really draw a crowd and throw it down proper! Drumsound and baseline smith, Nymfo, Ruckspin, The upbeats, Dubphizix, TC and so many more. Jesus, what a place to play, in Johannesburg for these guys. But they all brought a level of excellence that is awesome to watch.
Drum n bass is doing well worldwide and as you can see, drum n bass is alive and well in South Africa.