Pens down, party on as matrics get ready to Rage safely
Organisers have upped the safety factor on Durban's north coast after 2017's controversial festival
Safety, staying alert and making memories – these are the top priorities for Shardyn Rocha who is preparing to celebrate the end of her schooling at the ultimate matric party festival.
Rocha will be one of about 15,000 Ragers who will descend on the glorious beaches of Umhlanga and Ballito, north of Durban, for the annual Rage festival from Friday until December 8.
“I am feeling good about my safety because I don't really drink and that will make me more alert ... I have learned about the Red Frogs who look after everyone and make sure they are safe. (I want to) have as much fun as possible,” said Rocha.
Rocha, who will be travelling to the festival with friends, did not buy a Rage passport, which ranges from R1,300 to R4,000, and opted to pay for each event she attends.
The passports are used to gain access to the different party venues.
The 2017 festival was mired in controversy after an 18-year-old party goer reported being raped at a hotel in Umhlanga during the festival.
The festival has since included a safety and wellbeing tab on its website, which includes emergency services contacts and rape prevention advice.
Event organisers said they had gone to great lengths to ensure safety, spending close to R2.5m on security this year.
“A big thing we have done this year is that we have isolated Rage to our own ecosystem of venues, so the Samsung Super Club and Sound Factory are not accessible to the general public,” said festival director William Mcintyre.
“We are also only using two clubs exclusively to us, which will also not be open to the public on those nights. This year we have also moved the Sound Factory to Ballito as we found the majority of our attendees stay in Ballito and Umhlanga,” he added.
First-time Rager Kelvin Boucher said that although his parents, like most parents, were initially sceptical about his safety at the festival, they had come around.
“Friends and family who have been to Rage in the past have said how safe it is and how amazing the environment will be.”
Boucher has bought a R1,300 Rage red passport, which will give him general access the various events.
He secured accommodation in the Umhlanga/Ballito area, which he will be sharing with nine friends.
Mcintyre said that at the core of their safety measures was their near-field communication wristbands, which store the medical and personal information of Ragers in case of an emergency.
“Two years ago a kid fell over and knocked his head. We couldn’t get a hold of his friends to identify him. Once he got to the hospital we were able to scan his passport (the wristband) and pull up his medical information and contact his parents,” he added.
The festival has also teamed up with Howler, a cashless platform that uses near-field communication cards or wristbands at events.
The wristbands allow Ragers to pay for Rage Rides, food and beverages at the festival, by putting money into their accounts.
Paul Rowney, the national co-ordinator of Red Frogs South Africa – a volunteer group that assists with the safety of youngsters during parties – said he was looking forward to being a positive presence at this year’s Rage.
“Our volunteers are on the ground in various partying environments across the country, on the ground where young people are, just ensuring that they have a safe and good time. We are a positive presence in the partying culture in SA,” said Rowney.
The Red Frogs provided services such as walking Ragers home, going into their hotels and making them free pancakes, and providing water to keep them hydrated.
“The festival is very expensive and so this year we have started the camping package, which has had quite a good response,” said Mcintyre.
The camping packages range from R1,150 for a bring-your-own tent to R7,700 for the ultimate “glamping” experience.
Rocha and Boucher said they were looking forward to seeing the likes of Nasty C, Black coffee and Chunda Munki take the stage.