Diary of a SA Music Fan – Part 2: My First Oppikoppi

This is my long overdue 2nd part of Diary of a SA Music Fan and it covers my First Oppikoppi Experience. I hope you enjoy reading about it.

Here’s my recollection my first Oppikoppi Experience

The year was 1998. I was a laaitie working for an auditing firm in my hometown in Limpopo. Earlier that year I actually stopped studying at Technikon Pretoria (now known as The Tshwane University of Technology). To this day I have never finished my diploma in Cost and Management Accounting and my life took turn in a different direction.

I first heard about Oppikoppi in 1996. In that year someone had handed out flyers, trying to convince students to spend their pocket money on a music festival.  I really wanted to get there, but I did not get enough pocket money in 1996 or 1997 to get my arse to that farm near Northam. However, in 1998 I was earning a salary (a whopping R1500 a month) and I could finally do it.

I took a bus to Pretoria (from Louis Trichardt) on the Tuesday. I bought my ticket for R175 at Computicket and spent most of the day catching up with my friends from Varsity. I can’t remember too clearly, but I think we hit some pub in Sunnyside or Hatfield that night and I crashed on a mattress in my old Technikon hostel.

The next day I made my way to my bud’s Stretch room in Harmonie Youth Hostel. We bought booze for the weekend, hung out for a while and packed the Ford Laser. We left Pretoria in the late afternoon and arrived at Oppikoppi around 8 or 9 PM.

The first night at my first Oppikoppi

We struggled to find a camping spot and settled for a crappy one (with too many thorn trees). Eventually we found out that some of Stretch’s friends had a royal camping spot a lot closer to the stage area (in Piet Botha Duikweg). We chucked our half pitched tents into the back of the Ford Laser and followed the skinny oke (who knew were his friends were) to their campsite.

After we set up camp, we drank some beers, made some new friends and drank some beers. Stretch showed me where everything was an then we drank some more beers. Eventually we missioned around the area that would eventually be nicknamed “Mordor”(by future Oppikoppi attendees) to make friends and drank some more beers. After witnessing some Vrystaters attempting to braai with coals (that comprised of mieliestronke) at 3 AM, I finally crawled into my tent.

Day 2 at my first Oppikoppi

I woke up sometime around 8 the next morning with a mild hangover and saw a weird looking jacket (which could only have belonged to a bum) hanging on of the trees in our campsite. We later found out that David (one of Stretch’s friends) had decided to pub crawl in Northam the night before and some oke had given it to him because he was freezing his balls off.

Around 9 AM Stretch was still lying in his tent. He asked his other friend if the bar was open yet? Henry (who was also still in his tent) told him that it wasn’t, but he urged him to open it. Eventually Stretch got up and opened the bar (which turned out the be the boot of Henry’s Toyota Conquest).

Me at My First Oppikoppi in 1998

Day 2 started with some breakfast beers and some actual breakfast while we were urging Darryl (Stretch’s other friend) to get out of his tent. Eventually he poked his head out of tent which prompted Stretch to say “As daai tent bruin was, was jy ‘n fokken skilpad gewees” (which loosely translates as “if that tent was brown, then you would’ve been a tortoise”). We laughed and drank some more beers.

We geared up for the day. David poured a pre-mix into something that resembled a flower vase (which could perfectly accommodate a full bottle of Rum and Coke premix) and Henry and I took a shower (which was basically us running under the water tap of the water truck in our onnies).

The rest of the weekend of my first Oppikoppi is a bit of a blur, but here’s what I remember

1. I was constantly missioning around with at least one six pack of Black Labels. Even in the stage area. Nobody behaved so badly that the organizers had to stop them from bringing in booze.

2. The stages were temporary and faced the other way that they were facing at the other Oppikoppi festivals I attended. To curb dust there was gravel thrown in front of the main stage. Some oke actually tried selling one of those gravel rock for R10. Oppikoppi couches were already a thing back then and I saw a few of them.

My First Oppikoppi

3, At some point I bumped into my cousin Porky and his friend Morne (who were drinking beers at the main stage bar). Eventually I got wasted in their campsite and passed out on the backseat of their Opel Kadett. They were camped on Boom Straat. They were close to the Scots (who at one point complained that someone had stolen their flag).

My First Oppikoppi - Boom Straat

4. People were driving around the campsite a lot more back then. Some oke drove around the whole time and kept on playing Modern Talking on the sound system in his VW Golf 3, but it eventually stopped. A few years later I found out that some oke got fed with his lame tunes and had thrown his keys into the bush to stop him from playing what he considered to be sub-standard music.

5. We played “Fire Water Burn” by Bloodhound Gang 22 times on repeat in our campsite before someone asked us politely to changed the tune. We obliged.

6. At one point we had a makeshift roadblock (because we were running low on booze) and asked people what their favourite band was when we stopped them. It didn’t matter if they answered Just Jinjer or Springbok Nude Girls, we asked them for a beer anyways. We stocked up with about 3 cases of beer in 2 hours.

7. I bumped into my buds Piet, Travis and Rob at one point at my first Oppikoppi. After countless shots of tequila we had to carry Rob back to his camper van. We got lost on our way back and only made it back to the stage in an hour (or two). It was the first time that I got lost on the Oppikoppi farm. My record is 6 hours (at Oppikoppi 2010).

8. While I was missioning around with Porky and Morne we bumped into an oke who was selling SL magazines for R10. I had to drink a shot of tequila before he gave it to me.

9. I also remember rinsing my hair with Oppikoppi swimming pool water to cool down at some point. The water was still pretty clear when I did this. By day 3 it looked like a plaasdam. The swimming pool was filled up with dirt a few years later. It’s not there anymore.

10. At some point in time at my first Oppikoppi some guy gifted us a bottle of Tassies because he enjoyed talking to us. His whole trailer was stocked up with Tassies (5L boxes, 2L bottles and 750 Ml bottles). We finished the bottle between 3 of us (while we were watching Lithium‘s set).

11. I only found this out a few years ago, but this edition of Oppikoppi was actually the first one to be attended by 10,000+ people.

12. If the memory of my first Oppikoppi serves me correctly, I remember watching live performances from Koos Kombuis (twice on the same weekend), Springbok Nude Girls, Van Der Want & Letcher, Scarlet Box, Lithium, Wonderboom, Battery 9, Piet Botha (who was still promoting his Suitcase Vol Winter album), Boo!, Sugardrive and The Led.

13. I lost most of my tent pens. They got donated into the depths of the red Oppikoppi dirt. I had to replace almost all of them when I gave back the tent to the friend who had borrowed it me for the weekend.

14. Some peeps were walking around with a huge banner for “P.A.B.A.V” (short for for “People Against Bouncers And Violence”). Obviously they did not want to get moered.

15. Northam didn’t have a KFC back then.

Getting back to Pretoria from my first Oppikoppi

Stretch and kie sadly had to leave the festival on the Saturday, so I was actually stuck on the farm without a lift at my first Oppikoppi. I struggled to find a lift back, but luckily Porky and Morne made some space for me in their Opel Kadett and got me back to Pretoria in one piece.

After a long shower, I made my way to Mainline Music (across the road from Sunny Park Shopping Centre) to buy some CDs. If I can recall correctly, Piet Botha was actually in the shop checking me out when I bought the Springbok Nude Girls album.

6 Things I Learned at my first Oppikoppi (that I still do at festivals today)

1. Make sure that you pitch your tent (while you’re enjoying your first beer) when you arrive. You don’t want to be stuck in the cold without a tent when it gets dark. You need a structure to pass out in.

2. Prepare yourself for a hangover on the second day. Avid festival goers will tell you NOT to go big on the first night, but most of them end up doing it anyway. There will be a hangover. Mark my words.

3. Always remember toilet paper. It’s kak being stuck without it at a festival.

4. Always pack a flash light. You need to find shit easily when its dark.

5. Make sure that you pack warm clothes. The weather can be unpredictable at festivals.

6. Pack a tent that easy to pitch. Stick to a dome tent or a pop-up tent (if you know how to fold it up when you’re done).

Well, there you have, my recollection of my first Oppikoppi experience. If you attended the festival in 1998, feel free to comment with your own accounts of it below. Feedback is appreciated and welcome here.

If you missed part 1 of Dairy Of A SA Music fan, check it out HERE.

Watch this space for updates in the Music category on Running Wolf’s Rant.


Henno Kruger

Blogger, Desktop Activist, Twitter / Facebook Addict, Music Festival Addict, Avid lover of South African music, Founder and owner of Running Wolf's Rant

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