Banging Balkan Beats / Hg2 GUEST BLOGGER

Looking south, to the tip of Africa, you’d think that after all the New Year hijinks, there’d be some end in sight for the party fever that—like clockwork—besieged Cape Town at the start of summer. But, while the bulk of holidaymakers have flocked back to their inland homes, for Africa’s party capital, the fever pitch of summer hasn’t really peaked; as Hg2 Cape Town author, Keith Bain, points out, there are still several dizzying events scheduled before the month draws to a close.
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First up – prepare yourself for some brain-blitzing music and extreme dancing at Balkanology’s outdoor party on Friday night. Or, if you miss that (or happen to be in Johannesburg on business), hit the repeat performance happening upcountry on Saturday.

There are parties instantly forgotten the moment you exit the venue. Sometimes you’re in the process of forgetting even as you walk through the door. You know the scene: Tired DJs; the same old boring crowd; spacey drugged-out expressions plastered across the faces of people who’ve forgotten why they’ve come out in the first place. If you’ve ever had the sinking feeling that you’d simply rather have stayed at home with a good book, then Balkanology’s brand of outrageousness will set you free.

Simply the most creative and sensational events in Cape Town (and Johannesburg), Ma’or Harris’s efforts as a conceptual mastermind have paid off time and again as he concocts ever more insane ways to knock our party socks off. Balkanology is always a departure from the standard-fare electronic buzz and bass, and attendance is a sure-fire way to blow off steam in the company of a truly hedonistic crowd—one that’s diverse, sexy, energetic, and always up-for-it. Best of all, there’s emphasis on innovative music; tunes are fresh, alternative, and sometimes downright ridiculous. And there’s generally loads to look at, too, giving these events a festival quality.

This weekend, Balkanology will be showcasing the unique fusion sounds of New York-based Balkan Beat Box. An eight-piece outfit centred around saxophonist Ori Kaplan and drummer/producer/programmer Tamir Muskat, Balkan Beat Box has awed crowds at international festivals from Bonaroo to Glastonbury. They’ll be performing in South Africa for the first time, fusing elements of hip-hop and raga with Balkanoid horns, Greek guitars, and vocalists performing in Bulgarian and Arabic. Theirs is a crazy, eclectic mash-up informed by a distinctly underground sensibility.

Ma’or, himself an unhinged tune-spinner (whom I’ve seen disguised on one occasion as a Romanian female gymnast and, more recently, as a flamboyant DJing pig), will join the Jo’burg line-up. And on the bill for both parties is Balkanology regular, Toby2Shoes. It’s worth dressing up (or down), letting your imagination run riot, and leaving all your cares at the door.

Cape Town’s Balkan Beat Box experience happens in the Harrington Street parking lot, kicking off at 9pm; www.balkanology.co.za (Jo’burg’s party happens Saturday night in the parking lot at The Mills on Carr Street.)

If you’re a hedonist and in the Mother City this week, clear your schedule and join me on the dance floor for an epic party. I promise it’ll be one you won’t easily forget.

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