After the New South Wales Police Force’s attempts to shake down organisers for $160,000 culminating in a last-minute court order to install fencing, pat down punters, and fork out more than anticipated for the privilege of their presence, it’s fair to say the days preceding this year’s Bohemian Beatfreaks (Boho) were fraught with tension for attendees and organisers alike.
Pushed into a proverbial corner, organisers had no choice but to beat a hasty escape. The event’s location was moved across the Queensland border to Cherrabah Resort near Warwick.
Yet with the new venue came new doubts.
Would festival goers’ rights be trampled on by the Queensland Police Service before they even stepped foot in the event? How would the scenery of the new location compare to the luscious surrounds of the previous year’s site? Would the change of venue adversely affect the number of people attending the festival?
The first doubt was swiftly allayed as festival goers made their way into the event. Whilst there were police lined along the side of the road, they were content with waving most people through. The focus seemed to be on random breath testings (RBTs) rather than the vehicle searches and patron pat downs the NSW Police Force had demanded. The policeman who breath-tested my vehicle’s driver was particularly laid back. As we cleared the test and began to drive onwards, he exclaimed in re-assuring baritone, “You have a good time now won’t you!” This was about as far removed from a police sting as you could get.
Once we entered the festival grounds themselves, any concerns about a low turnout were quickly dispelled. Rolling in late on Friday afternoon, we stood before a sea of tents, each brimming with anticipation. Tinnies were passed around and knocked back, goon sacks floated freely between revellers and bursts of raucous laughter and shouting echoed around the hills of the campsite.
The natural surrounds only served to complement the positivity resonating from the festival patrons. A picturesque lake was within a stone’s throw of the campsite and the mountains teemed with native flora. Distant birdsong could be heard from the trees, albeit barely over the partying sounds resonating from the campsite.
Yet as glorious as the surrounds were, this was not what I had come to Cherrabah Resort for. No, I had come for the music. To embrace the beat, to dance the nights and days away. To lose myself in the sound, working into a trance on the dance floor. To offer my body up as a physical sacrifice to the electronic music gods, who can only be sated by the gift of sweat falling freely onto the dusty dancefloor.
Once I had set up my tent (pausing to partake in some communal wine and discuss the artists my neighbours and I would see), I headed straight to the dance floor.
Dance floors would be a more apt description. In addition to the two main dance floors (The Tree of Life and Wabooz) there was also the Boho lounge and a number of smaller, more intimate spaces, each offering different styles of music and ambience, and each a safe space in which festival goers could express themselves as they saw fit. Wherever I found myself over the course of the three days, no judgement to be had there. As one patron so aptly put it, “Doofing is about freedom.” Never has this been truer than on the dance floors at Boho.
The first night set the tone for the rest of my time at the festival. The energy of both patrons and performers was incredible – from the opening act through to the last artists sounding the ending notes on Sunday night. A special mention must be made at this point to both Tetrameth and Shiba San, who in an already stellar lineup, still managed to stand out for the amazing level of energy and skill which they brought to their respective sets.
The next three days were spent mainly on or near the dance floor, when I wasn’t catching up on some sleep or partaking in the aforementioned communal wine with my fellow doofers – people from all parts of the globe, who had come together for a shared love of electronic music and absolute freedom. Characters such as Kristian from Johannesburg, who was my camping neighbour. His job in South Africa was to run similar festivals, and Boho most certainly got his tick of approval. With a South African flag tied to his back and a can of beer in hand, he could be always be located on one of the dance floors, embracing the outstanding music and atmosphere of the event.
Given the constant stream of music playing on at least one of the stages, one could have kept on dancing for the entire festival if they’d been so inclined. Yet there were so many more activities to keep patrons entertained. From workshop classes on yoga and acrobatics (which were fun to watch for the less limber among us), through to a late night cinema, there was no shortage of things to do. Throw in some amazing food stalls, a lake to cool down in and beautiful surrounds for bushwalking and you had more than just a music festival. You had yourself a temporary village. A village in which PLUR was more than a catchphrase, it was a way of life.
It was with a heavy heart that I left the event. The music had stopped, the dance floors had cleared, but the memories of those three days will stay with me a lifetime. Or at the very least until next year, when I shall join my fellow doofers in embracing the freedom of Boho all over again.
This article was written by George Thompson – A man driven by a love of adventure and freedom.
Early bird tickets to next year’s Bohemian Beatfreaks are on sale now, so get them while they’re still ridiculously good value here.
The event is still trying to raise funds to cover their unexpected legal costs. Please, do what you can to support this wonderful gathering by donating to their GoFundMe campaign here.