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A Bluffer’s Guide to Earthdance

Written by Chris Honnery on September 2, 2008

Earthdance is certainly not your typical music festival, and does not deserve to be covered as such. However this works out well, as Music Feeds is not your typical magazine and doesn’t cover festivals as such. Sitting around the musky office in the most casual of Friday afternoon meetings, we all agreed on one thing: The story writes itself.

The story in question was based upon the forthcoming Sydney Earthdance festival, which is slotted for Saturday 13 September at Price Alfred Park, Surry Hills. Sipping on a beer explaining the generalities of Earthdance to my media cohorts, I decided to go back to the beginning.

Earthdance began in 1996 as a global initiative to promote world peace and humanitarian aims through music and the arts. It has been held in 400 cities in over 75 different countries, uniting different sectors of the global community in support of humanitarian aims. Since its inception in Sydney, the Earthdance concept has grown from a bush festival to a major event that last year attracted over
40, 000 people. Earthdance is renowned as a festival that makes an effort to go beyond the boundaries of a traditional music festival, and showcases lots of the different creative aspects of our community that we might often ignore.

Pausing to look around the table I decide it’s time to inject some passion into the discussion. I don’t really have to feign this, as it does get under my skin that whenever one creates a concept that is based upon pure ideals, such as peace, love, unity, environmental awareness many people automatically dismiss it as being overly idealistic. In a capitalist world too often dictated by pragmatism and economic paradigms, Earthdance stands in diametric opposition. It is a showcase of the diverse layering of our community, bringing together different subcultures in an attempt to make everyone’s world a better place, at least for one day.

It’s ambitious. Damn ambitious. Not many people would attempt to fit an array of leading bands, DJs and performers into a park to go with a host of artworks, large scale installations, children’s entertainment, petting zoos, market stalls and not wack an appropriately large price tag on it. However Earthdance remains a ‘free festival’, with subjective donation upon entry all that is needed to gain access to one of Sydney’s biggest and diverse cultural showcases.

I contemplate alluding to the fact that reportedly at last year’s festival on average each person donated less than fifty cents. But to dwell on this would be wrong, as Earthdance is based on ideals and optimism in a world that is too often dictated by greed and pessimism. It would be ‘unearthy’ of me not to believe that the strength of the product, and its underlying altruism and nobility, will immediately win the public over and they will throw in a few more bucks this year to support the concept. Heck even if people want to overlook the conceptual core of Earthdance, the spectacle and the experience itself should be more than enough to win them over.

My segue into this year’s lineup is designed to maintain everyone’s attention, as the Friday beers are flowing and the spectre of the weekend is now frantically clawing at the walls of our collective thoughts. Earthdance is an initiative of Deep As Funk, one of Sydney’s leading underground dance brands who so far this year have played host to the likes of Phonique and Gui Boratto. Resultantly the dance side of things is well and truly covered, so I can afford to gloss over a run list that features Deep As Funk residents alongside the likes of Deep Child and Emerson Todd returning from stints in Europe, Ministry of Sound’s Marc Dynamix, Theatre of Disco, Shades of Grey and Future Classic’s latest signing Peret Mako.

Of course we have grown beyond the dance genre.  The lineup for Sydney Earthdance 2008 also includes the Foreigndub crew, The Versonaries and Kingtide playing live, and a host of other renowned local bands showcasing different styles and genres, from reggae and dub to hip hop and pop.

In fact we’ve even expanded beyond the music sphere altogether. Some of Australia’s leading and more forward thinking artists have been recruited for this year’s program. Resultantly the imminent festival will incorporate a range of large-scale paintings, instant video portraits, ice sculptures and interactive installations from the likes of Ana Wojak, Gavin Barbey, Anthony Babbici and Elizabeth Day.

It occurs to me that it is time to release everyone for the weekend. So I throw in a line or two about Earthdance being the most ambitious community-based event on the global calendar, and emphasise that it not only brings together people on a global scale, but also unites different subcultures of our local community. I realise I may sound clichéd and hackneyed but I don’t really care because the fact is that Earthdance is built on pure and noble ideals that are too often commercialised. Regardless of my clumsy expression and appalling delivery I saunter out of the meeting not worried in the slightest. After all, the event really sells itself. Right?

See you there.

Earthdance Sydney falls on September 13 at Prince Alfred Park, Surry Hills. Entry with gold coin donation. For full lineup and event details head to http://www.earthdance.org.au

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