We're up way early on Wednesday morning. Everyone had packed the night before, so we just load the bags and gear into the cars. Matt and Marc drive us to the train station.
In the 26 years I've been alive I don't think I've ever set foot on a train in South Africa. Now we're going to be taking one all the way across the country.
To be honest I was worried about 7 geeky kids with a ridiculous amount of instruments, cameras, clothes, food, booze and camping gear wondering into Johannesburg station. Turns out my fears were complete paranoia and the station is totally chilled. We spot Henk from Hotbox wondering around eating a giant sausage roll - he directs us to where everyone's waiting to board the train and in a few minutes we're surrounded by a small army of other geeky kids with loads of instruments and bags.
It's awesome seeing everyone, the Doomers, Cutout Collective, Tidal Waves and Yesterday's Pupil, Peter, MJ, Brendon, Thomas and all Hotbox doggies. There are some new faces too. We find out a bunch of the Pretoria kids have already done a little train trip from PTA station to JHB. Then there's Roger Young and his gang that drove up from Durban for this.
With our stupid amount of luggage it's a little tricky getting down flights of stairs and into the train, but we all manage. Everyone's super friendly and helping one another out. Some dudes gladly move a compartment down so Anja, Chris, Anthea and I can hook up a cabin alongside the Foreigners.
It isn't even 10 in the morning, but we start partying before we've even left the station. Henk and Willie show up with complimentary bags of supplies from Hotbox. Each person get some candy, an energy drink, a Vice magazine and a bottle of wine. And then they give us our awesome, Doktrine illustrated t-shirts (design at the end of this post).
Once we're"on the road" our cabin seems to officially become the party spot for our gang and any passing friends. Things get silly. Really silly. At times the amount of people we squeeze into the cabin is just absurd. Drinks get spilt. Sunglasses fly off faces sticking out of windows. Lex keeps asking concerned questions about "bandits". Anja's drawing everyone labels for our little plastic cups. Jun is wearing two hats at the same time.
Someone gives an authoritative triple knock on our door. A paranoid kid grabs a triple-blade J from the lips of a band's bassist and throws it out a window. At a station. When someone that isn't a cop turns out to be the individual behind the knocking someone else offers to get off the train, climb down onto the tracks and recover the lost artifact. Said plan is put into action and pulled off. Except the conductor shows up, waves at the cabin and tells us we shouldn't get off the train at stations. We say it was the other guy with dreadlocks. He says okay. Pauses. Tells us "Ek ryk die dagga." Blank stares. "The weed - I smell the weed". More confused stares. "Okay guys; be safe".
After this "go ahead and do anything" from the train's main authority figure I'm feeling even happier watching South Africa blur past me. We're trying to use Lex's phone as a kind of tiny boom box. For the most part it's doing a pretty good job as the sounds of Hot Club and Life Without Buildings drift down from one of the top bunk beds. Later henk and Willie hook up a DVD player to a surround sound system, distributing individual speakers to the five closest compartments.
Wondering around the train I discover that the only other passengers are a large church group, mostly pensioners, dressed in matching lime green t-shirts. I can only imagine what they must think the 80 something animals partying their way across the country.
By midnight we realise that we've been rocking out for more than 12 hours. Everyone seems to agree that we should do the responsible thing and get to bed, we've still got 3 nights of music festival mayhem ahead. Before our plans of sleep can be put into action, Ariel storms into our cabin and sits down. He's massivly drunk/ amusing. Before being chased out so we can sleep, he puts on an incredibly spirited performance, singing his own version of Art Brut's "My Little Brother just discovered rock and roll" while the original faintly plays over our fifth of a surround-sound-system.
"WHY DON'T OUR PARENTS CARE ABOUT US?!?" He screams at the end. I'm sure they do care about us. And if they knew what an amazing, unforgettable day their children have had while traveling across the country, they'd be pretty glad we did discover rock and roll.
* photos by Kevin Goss Ross