Social picnics: when local DJs, good music take centre stage

Sunday Ultimate Chill.PIC: Sunday Utlimate Chill facebookpage
Sunday Ultimate Chill.PIC: Sunday Utlimate Chill facebookpage

With the dynamics of music and events changing in Botswana, local promoters are beginning to profit from not so cumbersome chill sessions while elevating the status of local Djs, Staff Writer MOMPATI TLHANKANE & Correspondent DUMISANI NCUBE write

With the rise of social picnics or chill sessions over the years, event organisers have come to realise that all what fun lovers want to do these days is to relax, have fun, eat great food over some few beers, and enjoy the summer breeze while having your toes tickled by the soft, fresh and green grass.

Gone are the days when people wanted to crowd at a music festival to see some international act they have watched on TV.

Batswana want to have fun as they get some real skin-to-skin time with their friends and family in a chilled environment, especially on Sundays.

Events like Jam For Brunch, Chill Step Sundays and Rasesa Social Picnic have paved the way and more are blooming.  Let’s admit it, attending a fully-fledged music festival with thousands of revellers can be a headache, sometimes even a real gamble. One minute you’re with the whole gang having the time of your lives, next minute it’s a three-hour adventure finding them again. It’s hard to squeeze through a crowd of 5,000 people.

With social picnics now becoming more popular and attracting larger crowds, continuous observations are made that some events are killing the whole idea as what starts as a relaxed environment for social picnics later turns into a full throttle music festival at night.

Some promoters have even become more creative and realised that there is no need to call headline foreign musical acts to perform for the fun lover, when what you need sometimes is a local DJ and good music.  No matter how busy life gets, promoters have found a formula by bringing everything to the park by setting it all up for Batswana to enjoy the experience and not stress about it.

Young and upcoming music promoter, Alton Caruso tells Arts & Culture that the whole aim of a chill session is to bring people together for one on one interaction. Caruso says, however, he has since realised that some events are turning the social picnic into big festivals later at night.

“The reason people attend chill sessions is because they want to mingle, but it’s hard to socialise properly in a music festival,” he explains.  Caruso adds that he doesn’t mind bringing an international act as long as the latter is not there to perform, but rather to interact with fans in a much more relaxed environment.

Organiser of the monthly chill session Thamaga Bush Farm Sundays, Lucky Ranko says the advantages of bringing a local artiste to social picnics is mainly because they can interact with their fans during the performances rather than during a music festivals where artistes are less accessible.

Ranko argues chill sessions should remain the same way as people go there to enjoy the relaxed environment rather than high-octane music festivals.

“With these events, we are always trying to push local artistes, but sometimes they are expensive no wonder we end up sticking to DJs as they are much cheaper,” he says.

He reveals that with BFS, he could never turn it into a music festival as it would kill the entire idea. 

Bakang ‘DJ Bakito’ Phiri who organises the Rasesa Social Picnic states that he has realised that the music festival part is ruining the whole concept of the picnic. Therefore, next year he intends to extend the event to last for the whole weekend.

“After the music festival on Saturday, the next Sunday I will host a picnic in a much more chilled setup,” DJ Bakito’ explains.

He even admits that he has made profit from the event despite the fact that the lineup was made up of DJs only. 

Besides events that shift away from the normal picnic environment, music promoters have also observed that social picnic events attract more people than certain music festivals.

Notable events such as the Rasesa Social Picnic, Jam For Brunch, Jazz Exchange, Chillstep Sundays are some of the events that have been headlined by local artistes and attracted large crowds.

Gone are the days when fun lovers  attended events because of the headlining foreign act as local artistes can still pack and realise a return on investment for the promoters.

“The volume of people who attend an event is highly determined by how you conceptualise an event.

People attend an event due to how it was designed and what takes place there. That’s what excites them,” event promoter and curator Gilbert Seagile says.

He notes that local artistes do have the ability to sell out a venue, but when it comes to events it is not mainly about the acts but it is about how the event has been put together. With the trend of chill sessions attracting large numbers of people with just a lineup of local Djs, Seagile believes it was the right step in direction for local acts as they are now getting bookings more often. “For some music festivals you would need a crowd puller artiste to sell tickets as a promoter. This is where most international acts get involved due to their huge following,” Seagile adds.

On the other hand music promoter and businessman, Seabelo Modibe strongly believes that the dynamic of music have changed. “People must understand the dynamics of music and events have changed a lot. It is only in social picnics whereby events can only get sold out with local acts only. If we were to remove a performance line up they would still be successful,” Modibe says.

He is of the view that the dynamics between music festivals, jazz events and social picnics is totally different whereby music festivals do require a crowd puller which is mostly international acts, therefore such events cannot be self-sustained.

Whereas for live music related events like Jazz, Modibe is of the view that proper jazz lovers attend events for the enjoyment of musical elements not necessarily to see an artiste on stage. 

Talking of artistes getting more bookings due to these types of events that get packed despite local artistes headlining the event, veteran rapper Kast states that it was high time such things started happening.

“It’s a mindset thing that local artistes are not profitable or do not bring in large crowds at events.

It starts with the mindset to prioritise local musicians to headline events. Local music is popular in the same way international music is, not that I am saying international acts should not be booked,” Kast explains.

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