By Eve Cheesmur
Date / Venue: February 19-21, 2016 - Tapapakanga Regional Park, Auckland
Auckland weather put a wee damper on things to start this years Splore, with torrential rain washing away the gravel on the road in the night before the festival started - it slowed down the traffic, but not the revelry.
The trip to Tapapakanga Regional Park took over 2 & 1/2 hours this year as opposed to just over an hour it usually takes. Rather than drivers pulling their hair out, they were pulling blankets out and picnics popped up on the side of the road and the usual strangers-becoming-friends mentality of Splore began. Once inside the gates, set up was a breeze (and the breeze was needed, with the temperature hitting 27 degrees!).
With the tents erected and appropriate footwear donned, and we headed down the a mildly sludgy goat track to see some music and rub shoulders with strange and familiar folk.
First up on the main stage was Melbourne based group Hiatus Kaiyote, and they were bloody brilliant. Lead singer Nai Palm firmly taking centre stage, the Neo Soul tunes pulled us all in and we danced to the undulating percussion of the set. It was a good boogie to start with, and the night had only just begun.
With our warm up dance under our belts, we were set for the next act on the main stage; The Cuban Brothers. They were hilarious and one of the funnest and funniest acts I've seen in a long time. Their self-mockery was endearing, their outfits on point, their dance moves smooth, and their vocals and smiles abundant and wide.
Next up was the legendary electronic Leftfield, who climbed the charts in the 90's to reach iconic status. Talking to various people who attended Splore this year, Leftfield was the drawcard, the pick of the bunch everyone wanted to see, and because I was a fan back in the day, I stuck around to see if they still had it. For me, they didn't, which was a shame, but not a disaster so we walked down the beautiful beach to the Sun Shack to see DJ Sarah Love and catch up with some friends.
We bumped into some crazy sights along the Art Trail, including a drum circle with percussion instruments fashioned from pots, pans and cutlery, into the Living Lounge where we were blown away by The Correspondence. Mr Bruce seemed to have unlimited energy and really drew the crowd in... oh how we danced!
After a long day of packing, driving and dancing, we finished the night off being weird together, dancing to Weird Together. Up the goat track and home to bed, we slept the good sleep and prepped for what was to unfold for day two of Splore 2016.
Waking up in a sauna of a tent is never the best, but the easiest way to drain that excess fluid from your system is by getting out of the tent and getting in water, as soon as possible. That's exactly what we did! Splore always puts on great eats too, so we upped the sustenance for the day and ate like kings on the beach between swims... it was a perfectly relaxing day, and once we'd refuelled on sunshine, food, swims and good company, we headed back up to prep for the big night of dress up and craziness that was Saturday.
We danced with weird hippies to DJ Belleville before heading down the track to bounce between the main stage with Tkay Maidza, then over to the Sun Shack for more mellow beats by Chiccoreli & MC Tali, all the while bumping into friends new and old.
Musical highlights of the night would have to be The Correspondence (again), Leftfield (DJ set), Nightmares on Wax, and The Funk Hunters. All were on form, and knew how to get the crowd involved and dancing.
Other than the music (because we all know Splore isn't just about the music, it's about the experience), highlights included endless piggy back rides by strangers, random acts of kindness, dancing on Pohutukawa trees, and making new friends.
We retired around 6am, but the night for most was still going. Exhausted and elated, I climbed into bed, tutu still intact and slept till the sun rose for yet another gorgeous day on the beach. Sundays conversations we a tad more staccato after not much sleep, but everyone was still feeling the vibes, so dancing in the water was the ticket.
I felt a sense of deep sadness when packing the tent down, and on the drive back to Auckland I found myself already planning for next years adventure down. That is because Splore isn't just a festival, it's a life experience and this year proved to be another magical one.