This piece was published at Brisbane Society of Sound in November 2015.
I’ve never encountered a festival more aptly named than Jungle Love.
Although only two hours from Brisbane, Jungle Love’s campsite feels like it’s a different world. Set in dense bushland with a winding creek and a few dry grassy knolls, the festival carves out a small bite of the wild outdoors, scattering three stages, a camping area, and a Chai tent over a couple square kilometres. The different areas are spread out just enough to make it tricky to estimate how many people are actually there; there are usually no more than a hundred or so people in close proximity. A long stretch of cool water weaves through the festival, and punters flit in and out of musical performances to douse themselves with creek water. After all, it’s about 34 degrees and humid, and the air sticks to sweaty bodies like mud. The crowd is a colourful bunch, almost tribal in their adornments of body paint, feathers, and vivid colours. Bodies of all shapes and sizes are on display (although the festival-goers are almost exclusively under 30), with some giving up clothing all together and opting for painted nipples and glittery navels. There’s a headiness and intensity to the place; the music melds with sweat and a sense of wildness as people gyrate to faster bands and sway to slower ones. The second night brings even more curiosity with its fancy dress theme as oddities emerge from all corners, wearing jellyfish costumes, disco-ball headdresses, and a variety of skin-tight bodysuits. It truly is a jungle out there.
Love [noun, verb].
Even if the place hadn’t been brimming with hippy-style free love vibes (read: nudity, sensual dancing, glitter, and a whole lot of hallucinogens), there would still be an element of joy to the event. The creative stations set up between stages let punters paint on canvasses while plugged in to headphones blasting indie-pop music, stick their body parts through painted facades, and marvel at stunning artworks created in just a few hours in the heat of the day. Skinny, beardy hipsters in tiny underpants fling themselves from rope swings into the creek, while an older man treads water nearby with a full-grown Labrador floating contentedly in his arms. Performance artists put on intimate and unintelligible shows in the Chai tent in front of an audience of stoned or sleeping people crammed haphazardly into floral sofas. The campsite is a breeding ground (quite literally – the bar offers free condoms) for love, as festival-goers lounge in hammocks or on blankets surrounded by prayer flags and gentle guitar strumming, beneath the brilliant blue sky. You can talk to anyone at any time, or share drinks and music. The love flows as freely as the creek water.
After two intense, jungly, lovely days, the whole thing feels like a hallucination. One I would highly recommend to any interested dreamers.