Winter Vortex. With the season having ended roughly a month ago, the hype that built for Phoenix: Festival of Fire was insane. Every seasoned trancer I know has been telling me about Winter Vortex for as long as I can remember and this year I knew it was about time I made the mission and attended. Finally, it was the weekend; the final packing was done and it was time to meet up with the mates we were carpooling with. Easily managing to stuff all our goods into the Land Rover; we were ready to mission. Next thing I knew we were winding our way down the entrance road and inside – super quick and helpful door.
Over the years I’ve heard so much talk about the circle of dreams, but nothing prepared me for the incredible venue. The best way I could describe it is an eerie, yet welcoming magical woodland. The layout meant you could hear the hum of the music no matter where you camped and it constantly drew you back to the dancefloor. There was more than enough space and the fact that you could park next to your tent was a huge plus. The venue also felt incredibly safe – never needing to lock my tent or worry about leaving beers outside in the open.
Beyond the actual site, the attention to detail the organizers put in with preparing the venue really showed. From the countless breathtaking handmade dream catchers, the incredible decor and seemingly hundreds of fires scattered around the dancefloor and campsite made the venue incredibly inviting. The bar was also super quick and there were more than enough stalls providing some incredible healthy meals to keep you going!
Vortex manage to do something very few other events can get away with – they keep their line-up secret and only release it in physical form at the event. This creates a unique sense of excitement and prevents one from pre-planning anything around the music, but rather trusting the event organisers’ idea of how the music should progress. And what a progression it was – aided greatly by the extended dj sets all around – something I really hope more promoters start doing!
Connecto eased us into the groove Saturday afternoon followed by some of the best sets I’ve heard all year. Each artist had their own unique touch, but still kept a constant theme going – what a narrative. I got some pretty crazy descriptions of how people perceived the night sounds ranging from playing old school video games to out-of-world alien sounds – a constant journey. However, the Sunday really was the cherry on top. Nine hours of Creator, Headroom and Freedom Fighters – wow! All three DJs brought their A-game providing us with a pure power Sunday Funday. Having heard almost every Sunday Headroom set this season, the man still manages to impress me even more every time by constantly adapting his sets to the crowd – definitely one of SA’s top talents! I don’t think I left the floor from 7am till close – with my phone registering a ridiculous 63000 steps on Sunday alone.
And then you get the people, what an incredible gathering of like-minded individuals coming together for one reason – to dance. The entire event was a blur of catching up with old friends to forming new connections with strangers around the numerous fires. This followed with then running into your new mates a few hours later and sharing the crazy stories the previous hours. Everyone was helpful and kind – not once did I feel out of place and that’s an experience in itself. 3000 people, one passion.
Overall the experience was everything a festival should be – a group of random people coming together to enjoy good music, dance, make new friends and have a little escape from our day-to-day lives. I went home with an amazing sense of happiness that has certainly carried me through the past week! Winter Vortex is definitely an event I’ll be recommending to anyone looking for something to do during the winter months – I will, however, be packing in about three extra layers of clothing next time.
Review by Matthew Deacon
Photography Ashley Brown