Isotopia in Darwin


Before I got into the caveats I should start of this entry by saying that I had a great time. Because I did, I had a great time. But then, I’ve also been working 6.5 day weeks for longer than I care to remember and having 1 whole day off with two half days on either side would probably make any outing quite wonderful.

Being in the Pethericks rainforest where there’s some thermal pools about 100 m from the main dance floor, trickling clear streams wending its way through palms and greenery, cascades that keep going forever also helped. I doubt that I’ve been to a more beautiful party site and I doubt I will again.

Having said all of that, I dont think I’ll go back to Isotopia even if I am in town next year. I’ll probably give its competition a go instead. The Darwin Winter Solstice Festival is located at the same site after all. One of the main problems I had with Isotopia was the lack of choice in music. On Saturday night, only the main stage was on and until 1am or so, there were only local bands playing.

For some reason, the market stage speakers had been abruptly abducted earlier that evening and shifted to the main stage never mind that the main stage had a full blown set of speakers for the DJ sets. So for most of the evening, I sat around with half of the crowd waiting impatiently for the real music to start. The other half were having the best time of their lifes screaming along to the bands. I guess you could say that you cant keep everyone happy all of the time but they certainly could have if they’d only let the market stage keep going while the bands were playing.

But once the music started at 1am or so after an excruciatingly terrible grrl hip-hop band (never my favourite genre to start with), I was happy. Arguably, after having sat through 4 hours of mediocre bands, I would have felt the same if they’d just plugged in an ipod with the best of 2007 prog-trance. But the first DJ was amazing and when I eventually got to bed, it was 5:30am. A short 3 hour sleep and I was up again anticipating the pleasant morning dancefloor vibe that you get from the stayers.

Not so.

I’d certainly seen trashbags in my time but usually their obnoxious presence is diluted by everyone else. This time, the ratio was 1 to 4 in the morning and kept rising until by the afternoon, the only people on the dance floor were the trashbags – they’d effectively chase everyone else away. They werent locals but mainly French backpackers and they’d been drinking and taking drugs non-stop since Friday. By Sunday afternoon a grand total of 6-8 people were rolling around in the mud and destroying the decor. No security meant they had free reign. The DJ played in a desultory fashion looking at them warily.

I sat around for awhile and then gave up, spending the rest of the afternoon at a friend’s campsite. From the look of the festival, most everyone else had decided to do the same.

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