Culture //

Just a Penrith girl in a Defqon.1 world

I came, I saw, I gabbered, writes Bernadette Morabito.

After the second dinger the laser show was twice as epic.
After the second dinger the laser show was twice as epic.

“Oh, you’re from Penrith. That’s nice,” they’d say.

A response I hear too often from my Sydney Uni brethren, I’ve usually had to prove myself intellectually and socially worthy in a vast pool of learned individuals.

It didn’t matter that back in the Western ‘Burbs,’ there was another sort of hierarchical divide. I took much pride in being part of the higher end stratum. Rule one of the ‘Riff upper class, thank you very much, was to never go to Defqon.1.

Much to my horror then, my casual events job catapulted me into a word of psychedelic colours, industrial sculptures, and naked people. Naked people on drugs. Yes, it was an 11-hour shift from hell, and it wasn’t doing much for my internalised sense of self.

Held at the Sydney International Regatta Centre, some elements of the event were as reproachable as I’d imagined. As I wound a compulsory wrist band on Defqon.1 patrons in a tolerably, but necessarily firm manner, the seedier of the bunch would remark, “I feel like I’m in bed,” or “Ahh, I like this… I’ll remember that forever.”

A honourable mention must also go to the people gabbering so frequently, that even the toilet lines, canteen lines, and random open spaces were exceptionally lad-hardstylin, brah.

But, during my breaks, I could undoubtedly appreciate my environment for its decorative demeanour. Old retro couches sprawled randomly along the cement terrain, with fenced off car yard assemblages, gave this festival an edgy, industrialised attitude.

The most poignant experience in my lengthy shift however, was meeting a 63-year-old hardcore DJ from New York. As I waited at my nifty Dutch Band Station machine, which expelled wristbands, ‘DJ Old Man’ approached me at a youthful speed. He excitedly asked for his ‘goodie bag’, which all VIP patrons received on arrival.

After asking how he became professionally involved in a festival like Defqon.1, his face lit up, and he recited his career of nearly 30 years as DJ Ziggy (and a specialist in ‘Jumpstyle’ music since 1981, F.Y.I). In this era, he was told he was “behind the times.” But now, Defqon.1 proves there is a solid social space for him to project his love into a particular genre, where he feels especially appreciated.

After our short conversation, he proudly passed me a white envelope. Inside was a postcard, with an image of an alien DJ on the front. The postcard was signed “Robert J Stover” a.k.a ‘DJ Ziggy.’ In a final youthful breeze, he told me to “add his music page on Facebook.”

At that moment, my attention started to filter towards individuals who weren’t just scantily clad with denim undies or yelling out “Defqoooooooon!” to the gods above. There were individuals from around the world who shared in a subculture with an incredible amount of energy and passion for their music. It’s the sort of community whose first trickles of culture filter in from the assortment of hard dance varieties from its mothership, Holland.

In a village of pulsing beats and techno, infectious dancing and infectious joy filled these festivalgoers. As the spewing flames, smoke, green lasers and fireworks exhausted the cool night sky of The Regatta, I realised this festival had birthed a unique clubbing spectacle; executed with creativity, a dance religious community, and the legacy of one 63 year old, DJ Ziggy.