Shake Your Booty at the Rainforest World Music Festival 2011
Shake it right, shake it left, shake it all over... Shake your socks to the pulsating tunes of the Rainforest World Music Festival in Sarawak, Kuching! The madness was here again with the adrenaline rush that would grab you and leave you spending, but wanting more. I'm talking about the contagious fever of the Rainforest World Music Festival, a well-known and anticipated 3-day international music festival that the Sarawak Tourism Board organizes annually in July.
The Rainforest World Music Festival takes place in the heart of Borneo, specifically in the Sarawak Cultural Village in Santubong District, 35 kilometers from Kuching, Sarawak, and is known for its diverse representation of world music. Rainforest World Music Festival tickets have been getting so fast that just about anyone has a look. I was fortunate to have two tickets of RM110 each, sponsored by my company, and before you said "wonderful", I had invited my best friend to go with me. We didn't attend the music workshops during the day due to work commitments, but we definitely went to the music shows that evening, a night you don't want to Psytrance miss.
The drive from Kuching to the Rainforest World Music Festival meeting point in Santubong took about 40 minutes, a little longer as there was more traffic on the road. Private vehicles were not allowed to drive directly into Sarawak Cultural Village; The main venue for the Rainforest World Music Festival which is another 10-15 minutes drive away. From the meeting point the shuttle coach took us, at a cost of RM5 per person one way to the Rainforest World Music Festival.
What a sight to see... There were hundreds and thousands of people, strolling and gathering around the entrances, surrounding complexes and stage areas for the Rainforest World Music Festival; At one glance, more than half of the people there were visitors from abroad. That was how popular and popular the Rainforest World Music Festival was after its debut in 1998, making this year 2011, its 14th year as the largest and most successful music festival showcasing traditional, fusion and contemporary music from around the world.
I briefly browsed the local handicrafts for sale at the Rainforest World Craft Bazaar which takes place in conjunction with the music festival, but I wasn't interested enough to buy any. On the other hand, the colorful collection of ceramic pottery and ethnic design ornamental jewelry seems to be a hot item, especially with foreign visitors supposed to have bought them as souvenirs.
The Rainforest World Music Festival has evolved over the years into a major social event, and that has been part of its global or international appeal, because there were people from diverse backgrounds, young and old, music, food and drinks, including beer and wine, gathered in place One, it's bound to be a lot of fun!
This year, the countries in which bands participate in the Rainforest World Music Festival came from Australia, Canada, Dominican Republic, Eastern Europe, Finland, France, Iran, Italy, Kenya, Latvia, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Poland, Senegal, the United States and Vanuatu. Among the 21 teams represented, the favorites were Frigg from Finland, Joaquin Diaz Band from the Dominican Republic, and Lisa Haley and Zydecats from the USA. Malaysia's representatives included Agungbeat from Sabah and Masters of Sape from Sarawak.
The bands were all good, but the exciting Afro-Caribbean merengue music by Joaquín Díaz from the Dominican Republic ruled the evening, as did the lively, lively Louisiana music by Lisa Haley and the Zydecats from the USA. Lisa Haley is a Grammy nominee who played progressive Louisiana music in her neo-traditional zydeco/Cajun style. The rhythmic beats combined with the intense atmosphere filled with diverse musical material at the Rainforest World Music Festival was very exciting.
Surprisingly, in the midst of the noisy huge crowds, in the standing room only, we met a couple of friends, ready to party long into the night and have a good time at the Rainforest World Music Festival. First came the beer and after five rounds of "one shot" my friend was dizzy and felt the effects of alcohol. Fortunately, I was the designated driver and had only two beers, and drank slowly. Next on the list was red wine, and by this point, we had decided it was time to leave and go home.
The transport coach took us back to the meeting point and cautiously headed back to Kuching. The return trip turned out to be longer than usual, punctuated by abrupt stops of vomiting sessions by my friend, about 4-5 times, I think. I was pretty sober and looking forward to next year's Rainforest World Music Festival and another unforgettable music experience.