With the sheer number of events nowadays, music festivals are no longer for tree-hugging hippies but have become more mainstream. Major fests like Ultra Music Festival and Love and Light act as the standard for electric/trance music lovers, which draw in thousands of people per year. In an online article published before the weekend started, Muslim youth from across South Africa were urged not to attend the Ultra Music Festival which took place on the weekend.
Weekend festival concerts such as Ultra Music Festival garner a lot of attention as people race to buy tickets for a concert featuring their favourite artists. The festival attracts people who like a particular genre of music. Furthermore the Cape Town summer period is filled with concerts and festivals so people would be more inclined to go in order to enjoy an outdoor activity when the weather is at its best.
So what draws in huge crowds? It all boils down to aesthetic. First comes the line-up—a typical mix of well known artists in the genre and a few big names from the international scene. Then there’s the location, whether the festival brings you to a farm located outside of the confines of the city—a perfect backdrop is key to get that social media envy.
Nowadays social media has become one of the key elements, everyone is looking for that perfect picture to post on social media to show that they are young and trendy and have enjoyable lives.
While many Muslim participants are fully aware that certain types of music and the free mixing of the sexes is prohibited in Islam, they feel music gatherings can be good clean fun as long as you yourself do not partake in the taking of intoxicating substances.
“It is appealing because its summer, it’s at a location and also it’s something different to do instead of the same mundane thing such as visiting malls and going to the cinema,” said Aniqa Behardien*.
Dayaan Collison* who attended the festival with a group of friends said that it’s not every day that you get to see these DJs. Because they are world renowned, it is a once in a lifetime experience.
His group of friends said that they were there to enjoy the vibe and the atmosphere of people around people with a similar taste in music and they are able to dance the day away.
“The event is also well advertised, it’s a good market that they (organisers) tapped into, trance and EDM was always for an elite group and radio stations have commercialised it to reach a wider audience in South Africa,” said Shameer Abrahams*, a party goer who prior to having heard this music on radio, used to download it from specific websites.
Another concert goer, Tahir Samodien, gave a long explanation about why they attended.
“It doesn’t make you less of a Muslim if you choose to dance. Because you are still a good person, you have to be firm in your belief and believe that your own relationship with God is strong and it’s not for anyone else to judge because they are committing their own minor sins. Yes you might be surrounding by people who might indulge in questionable things, but in this society it is unreasonable to stay away from all places because you can’t shut yourself off from the world.”
“If you are going to stay away from these things based on religious reasons then you might as well give up television because that could also be considered wrong.”
Some youth are not attending these festivals in order to rebel against a religious order, but rather because they find comfort and enjoyment in the music and social environment.
“You feel your connection with God, if you feel that he is unhappy with you then you must change your life. If you feel that you are doing nothing wrong and your intention is just to enjoy the music then that could be fine.”
“Life is all about balance, but sometimes people reach a point where balance is not good enough and they want to completely dedicate their lives to religion then that is what they must do.”
VOC (Umarah Hartley)
(Names have been changed)