A pulsating capital
If recent buzzes about festivals and events have sparked your interest in attending one, fear not. With the sunny season here and so many events to choose from, there are more reasons to try one out than ever.
People no longer wait for months to get an event worthy of their attention; the lifestyle and culture associated with such events has greatly changed since they first emerged, evolving from a symbol of counterculture into mainstream entertainment. They have reached fever pitch of popularity for attendees and artists alike; became a social media feeding frenzy and a cash machine for the industry.
The event line-up is as representative as it can get, encompassing everything from raves to pool parties, from hip hop to electronic dance music, and from jazz to dance hall; the following are examples of the most popular.
BiRA BiRO Festival, the biggest electronic music festival in the country to date, was front and center for the past couple of months. Held on November 24, this one-day annual festival features artists with huge followers worldwide (top 100 ranking DJs and producers in the genre) and cutting edge audio-visuals. It was held on the slightly rolling landscapes of Ghion Hotel and the music had fans jumping and bumping for up to nine hours, throwing the crowd of shrieking fans into bouts of electrified movements.
“All the energy at the event was fuelled by EDM (Electronic Dance music)” said Guta Wakuma (Choo Choo), organizer of the event and founder of Choo Choo promotions, “it is the melody of energy, and the sound of the youth now. It brings about dynamism, togetherness and joy.”
The event targeted those who have music in their lifestyle and those who want to be global citizens, especially young adults and the youth. Choo Choo aims to bring the best of EDM to Ethiopia, bring the world closer to the Ethiopian youth and bring about positive cultural changes.
“It is difficult to get a visa as an Ethiopian. Even if it means you can afford accommodation, flight and the 200-300 Euros you have to pay for the festival. Around 40,000 -50,000 Birr to see an artist you love. It was a lot of hurdle for the local fans because no one catered to their needs. And that is why this event was formed.”
“BiRA BiRO is not just about EDM, it is not genre specific; it is trend specific, energy specific, and may evolve if there is a shift in the music culture.”
“So far, we tried to push forward with electronic music; because if you think about the biggest music gatherings throughout the world like Tomorrowland or Sonar or other big festivals, they are electronic. Because when it comes to big outdoorsy festivals, EDM is taking over.”
Choo Choo emphasizes on the need to move forward and accept change. “If you want to progress, you need not be afraid of change. Come and witness BiRA BiRO, and if it’s not your type of event, maybe get involved in the business side of it, as a supplier or as a sponsor. When there is change, we will change with it, we want to fuel it.”
Alliance Ethio –Française’s events and concerts, which are demoted and seem to be under the radar, actually provide the most extensive options. They have got a little something for everyone, ranging from Jazz and Blues to Hip-hop, from breakdancing to Azmari nights, from mature parties to family friendly events, boasting highly experimental and imaginative arts programs of any of the cities’ events. There are no entrance fees and attendance ranges from small and intimate to large and communal.
Although there is no uniformity in frequency of events, Alliance Ethio-Française has consistent events held once a week, each with new approaches contrary to the mainstream approach regarding events. The most recent was Sonic BBQ; an experimental dialogue between drums and BBQ. Sonic BBQ featured Gilles Stassart, a French chef, and Misale Legesse, an Ethiopian drummer well-known in the jazz scene. Together, they paired food and drums to exhibit an experimental sensory show. The chef wired microphones and sensors on his work station, knives chopping and meat sizzling while the drummer responded with beats and animated rhythms.
The events at Alliance Ethio-Française also acknowledge and explore emerging cultures and subcultures, the most recent ones being On the Grind and Dula ena Goma/ Stick and Wheel. The former explores the Ethiopian Hip-Hop culture through music, breakdancing, graffiti art, skateboarding and fashion, while the latter was an interactive show and art installation exhibition that focused on skateboarding in Ethiopia.
Upcoming or anticipated acts include Destino Dance Group-annual contemporary dance show, African electronic music festival, Ethiopian Blues, Children’s Music Workshop with Congolese musician Gaspa and collective painting exhibitions.
Gendaw gar is a two-day, out of town pool party held at Bin International hotel, Bishoftu / Debrezeyt. The event features prominent local DJs, Afrobeat, Trap and energetic music on Saturdays; Deep House, throw back old school type of music on Sundays to complement the laid back brunch kind of vibe. The event targets people from their mid-twenties to their mid and late thirties. It boasts great customer service, games, floaties, balloons and cup holders in the pool, and heated water and outdoor heater systems for the chilly nights.
“Our parties are best enjoyed with friends, we encourage people to get in the water and have fun. And most of all, we want them to feel at home” said Yonatan Tesfaye, one of the organizers from Platinum Events. “We don’t encourage drinking and driving so free shuttles are provided to and from hotels as well as drivers for those who insist using their own cars.”
Nomad Ethiopia is a multi-platform company that promotes the creative life in East Africa. Its series of events feature art installations, shopping, and barbeque amongst talented DJs. It latest event series (Æfrikǝn ilektroniks) featured Ethiopian Records, Armaghedion, No and Lady Ha$h. There were also some of the most influential people like Rophnan, Gbox creative attending the event. The event’s venue tends to vary. And according to many attendants, Nomad parties have the most diverse and mature crowds in any similar events in Addis.
The House Party Experiment, a party dubbed one of the best house parties to have ever been organised in Addis in quite some time. Lit by Belich Belich, a light system company, the event featured an impressive light system with Afro beat, EDM, Dancehall and Hip hop music. It has diverse crowds and a relaxed atmosphere. And the latest party lasted more than nine hours as the crowd would not leave.
Lemonade is an ambitious event piloting on Dec 15, planned to be a monthly event at Laphto mall, the event is said to feature talented designers and models for a swim suit fashion show.
Welo is a brunch organized at the Brick House every Sunday, it has BBQ and live mixes by team Lubanja (DJ Babkim and Eyu Extreme) an event that has been growing for some time now.
Most of these events have inconsistent venues due to many reasons, but manage to maintain their attendees using smart promotions, especially on social media. One of the most followed (with 500,000 to 2,000,000 people online) is Venture Addis. Venture Addis, is an online based events company promoting the city’s vibrant night life scene and party culture, providing its followers with detailed information on venues and time. Natnael Girma, founder of Venture Addis urges event goers and party lovers to follow these mediums, “we directly inbox all our subscribers, so it’s like carrying the modern day versions of flyers in your pockets.”