Bane + Antidote Reviews: Wonderfruit Festival 2014

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Sunset over Wonderfruit 2014

We love festivals. We love summer. But the downside of the summer festival season is that we have to cram a year’s worth of show-pony exhibitionism and toe-tapping exuberance into just three short months. Such syrupy, highly concentrated antics require superhuman feats of stamina. And then it’s nine depressing months before your next disco unicorn reaches full-term, and after a lengthy tutu rebirthing/mending process, it can all thankfully begin again.

You can therefore imagine our excitement to learn about Wonderfruit, which took place for the first time from the 19th to the 21st December 2014. Wonderfruit festival is brainchild of the great minds behind Secret Productions (the wizards responsible for Wilderness festival), who have exported their secret formula for fun to the sunny, smiling land of Thailand. Wonderfruit is the first festival of its kind to hit South East Asia, so we were careful to manage our expectations. This was no small feat Secret Productions were attempting. There were bound to be teething problems and challenges to overcome. It is notoriously difficult for foreigners to set up projects in the region, and it must have been especially so for an innovative project such as this.

Boy were we surprised, and in the best possible way. In a nutshell, Wonderfruit was a glorious cross between Secret Garden Party and Burning Man, with a sprinkling of Wilderness’ refinement. Voila! One Wonderfruit steak well done…

Imagine a sandy lakeside beach fringed by palm trees, nestled by a tiki bar, with bikini-clad beauties dancing barefoot to a thumping sound system under thatched parasols. Imagine a badger-set reinvented, The Quarry, the funkiest, chunkiest place to dance until dawn under a stunning Andrew Cross of AN Architects bamboo superstructure, strewn with disco balls, with luxurious daybeds and hammocks under dappled shade for disco weary souls the morning after. Imagine delicious and appetizing food stalls amidst rice paddies, serving to-die-for organic coconut pancakes and the best Thai street-food around (yum), with giant tropical crickets serenading you as you dine. Imagine flamboyant naughtiness, a cabaret cocktail tent where magestic drag queens strut, Cirque du Soleil pole dancers twirl, dwarves strike a poses in wrestling outfits and kinky 1920s porn projections tie everything together. Imagine a compelling crowd consisting of young and hip Bangkok locals, a cosmopolitan Singapore and Hong Kong set, and the diehard UK loyalists for whom no time zone is too far when it comes to a party of Wonderfruit’s calibre.

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The Quarry by Andrew Cross, built using local techniques and materials

If there were teething problems, they didn’t show. We fell for everything that the Wonderfruit shmorgasbord had to offer. It was mouth-wateringly tasteful, incredibly well thought through AND there was no litter. The bar staff were competent and there was no shortage of ice (even on the Sunday morning). The portaloos were exceptionally clean and staffed by a hoard of joyfully enthusiastic ladies. And the security guards were friendly and smiling. Thai hospitality certainly makes for a refreshing variable in comparison to the shaken-warmly-by-the-throat British kind.

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Smiles and chunky tunes

Just one last gloat… to top it all off, the legendary DJ Swamy of Burning Man/Robot Heart fame created the ultimate palace of iniquity in the form of the Solar Stage, from which he proceeded to play fabulous chunky sets all weekend. Can you honestly imagine a better way to prepare for the Christmas glutfest than getting an envy-inducing tan while enthusiastically dancing all weekend in the heat, your hardest decision being whether to have another swim or a coconut and rum to cool off? We can’t. And we hope we never have to ever again.

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Delicious food

We feel privileged to have been there for the first run and are very excited to have found a midwinter solution to our annual sparkle-hibernation period. Thank goodness it’s only a skip-hop-and-jump away from our winter base in Hong Kong. But even if you’d have further to go, we thoroughly recommend the journey. The inner festie beast must be satisfied! Otherwise those first summer outings can get ugly. We know you know what we mean.

We salute you Jo Vidler, Dickie Cohen, Ben DeVere, Tess Acheson and all the Secret Production team for seeing through this vision. We thank you deeply Pete, for opening up your beautiful piece of paradise to the public and for battling the red tape and bureaucracy that must have blocked the path at every turn. Guys, we have no idea how you managed to pull this one out of the bag. But you did. And it rocked.

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Until next year… and our next Wonderfruit Festival Review!

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