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It is many par­ents’ night­mare: when the kids fin­ish ma­tric ex­ams and nag to go with their friends on a “ma­tric vac” be­fore their re­sults come out. You’re prob­a­bly fa­mil­iar with this. Per­haps your chil­dren are there right now, en­joy­ing the clos­ing mo­ments of their school­ing, and cel­e­brat­ing the be­gin­ning of the rest of their lives (or mak­ing a glam­orous start to un­em­ploy­ment).

Last week­end, Bal­lito and Umh­langa, north of Durban, bore wit­ness to the ma­tric rage phe­nom­e­non: a blowout for school leavers, which many will re­mem­ber for the strength of their hang­overs.

Around 15 000 ragers booked into ho­tels and burst out of them ev­ery day to party.

While the or­gan­is­ers are pre­oc­cu­pied with safety, there is a fair amount of drink­ing. And as many of these kids are yet to de­velop their sea legs (as it were), things can get tricky quickly.


The La Mon­tagne ho­tel is swamped by young­sters de­light­ing in the sun, rock­ing biki­nis and sun­gas of all shapes, cuts and lev­els of dar­ing.

A DJ booth is set up in the mid­dle of a large pool and in the wa­ter kids are play­ing with in­flat­able beach balls and splash­ing each other play­fully – and sug­ges­tively at times. Just out­side the pool, but still in the vicin­ity, are most of the black sis­ters in at­ten­dance. That HTH can be treach­er­ous to one’s weave or braids. None­the­less, they are jam­ming to the fast-paced elec­tronic dance mu­sic while a group of tough-look­ing boys do push ups on the lawn a short dis­tance away. The dude who could do the most would win a bot­tle of the finest po­tency made this year. It’s about po­tency, so it doesn’t mat­ter in what year it was made.

We over­hear two well-built guys plan­ning to ap­proach two po­tency shot girls.

“Bro, I’m not en­tirely sure what we must say.” His wing­man re­sponds with a hic­cup: “The words are far until they are close.”

The scenes are jovial at the pool party de­spite the poor mu­sic se­lec­tion and the testos­terone-filled duel for a bev­er­age with a heinous taste.

A life­guard walks around, more hos­tel master than party host, blow­ing his whis­tle when­ever he no­tices some­thing a lit­tle too risky hap­pen­ing. The pool party ses­sion be­gins to sim­mer down with the prospect of the Sam­sung Su­per­club hap­pen­ing that evening.

Pheromones are in the air.

One blonde says she’s hav­ing the time of her life. Af­ter telling this re­porter of her pref­er­ence for black guys, she says: “It is a shame that there aren’t so many here.”


The Sam­sung Su­per­club is a venue built for the purpose of the Rage Fes­ti­val and it is im­pres­sive as far as elab­o­rate mar­quees go.

Be­fore the teens can go in, they are searched for weapons and con­tra­band (read drugs). Se­cu­rity does such a thor­ough job that they go through the con­tents of cig­a­rette boxes.

Af­ter a vig­or­ous pat down, the club emerges in the door­way, the en­trance flanked by two tow­er­ing in­flat­able, lit-up horses.

There are a few older peo­ple in the crowd, wear­ing strange shirts and caps. These are the Red Frogs, who ensure the kids have plenty of wa­ter to drink, and a chill area to re­gain their com­po­sure or to pass out for a while.

At the Sound Fac­tory the next day, we were able to see this chill zone. It had bean­bags placed around it and a funky light in­stal­la­tion, and even those teens who weren’t the worse for wear were there, hang­ing.

There is an­other not-so-chill area, which is to the Red Frogs what an in­ten­sive care unit might be to a hos­pi­tal. The ex­treme cases on the night are taken to this not-so-vibey tent. There is no mu­sic here, just a mor­bid en­ergy as teens lie on the floor cov­ered in blan­kets that would not look out of place in a prison.

Next to each of the passed-out fig­ures is a group of their friends, hud­dled to­gether with a com­bi­na­tion of stressed and unim­pressed looks on their faces. We are ush­ered out quickly.

Brett France, a co­or­di­na­tor for the Rage Fes­ti­val and head of the Red Frogs, says they draw their vol­un­teers from lo­cal churches.

“I’ve seen peo­ple just not look­ing af­ter them­selves, you know, not stay­ing hy­drated or per­haps hav­ing a few more than they’re used to. Other than that, we don’t usu­ally see any­thing too bad hap­pen,” he says.

Asked what the pro­ce­dure is if some­thing se­ri­ous was to hap­pen to a rev­eller at Rage, he says: “If we do have to make a hos­pi­tal run, we’d ask the per­son to chat to their par­ents on their phone and

From left: Ke­shav Gounden (sleep­ing), Joshua Beere, Reece Pil­lay, Josh Mun­ster­mann and their friend James are spot­ted chill­ing on the lawn at night, en­gag­ing with Joshua as he hands out wa­ter and con­nects with the party-go­ers


GROUP MIND More than 15 000 youth from across South Africa and other parts of the world headed to Bal­lito and Umh­langa in KwaZu­luNatal for the Rage Fes­ti­val – eight days and seven nights of beach, sun, fun, par­ties, mu­sic and mak­ing new mem­o­riesS:

A group of young­sters at the main stage along­side rap­per Ricky Rick. Now in its 14th year, the Rage Fes­ti­val is in­tro­duc­ing sev­eral firsts for what is al­ready one of the most in­no­va­tive fes­ti­vals of its kind in South Africa

GROOVE ON Saman­tha, Ni­cole, Karin and Zan­der are pic­tured en­joy­ing the mu­sic next to the water­fall dis­play at the Su­per­club in Bal­lito, north of Durban. About 15 000 out-oftown stu­dents flooded to Umh­langa and Bal­lito to party until De­cem­ber 8

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