Cape Town, South Africa: the nation’s longest running year-on-year metal fixture of WinterFest’20 will continue on its planned date of 01 August, 2020. It will just look very different. We’re going online.
Welcome to WinterFest’20, South Africa and beyond
What’s more, this presents a great opportunity to make WinterFest’20 a truly national event. Geographic limitations fall away as we shift from physical to digital. With global circumstances as they are, we’re having to learn news ways to socialize and interact. And fast! However, the Covid-19 crisis is also pushing us to do things we’ve been talking about for ages. Now we have the time and incentive to actually do them!
The idea has always been to make a component of SummerFest and WinterFest accessible via online for people in other South African regions and those who live abroad.
When the reality first hit that there was no way we’d be able to host a traditional WinterFest, our first reaction was to postpone. Then it became obvious that even postponing offered very little certainty and, if we postponed too long, then WinterFest would start to encroach too much into SummerFest planning. For a frightening moment it looked like we’d have to cancel.
But then we thought about it some more. A lot of us are going out of our minds with lockdown and our lives falling apart around us. Our community needs this. Or something like this. We need something dependable in these times. Something familiar.
Whilst your metal community and alternative sub-culture offers very little in the way of financial relief or food aid – at a time where we have to look to our neighbours and family, whether to provide or to ask for provisions – there is only one way your social community can be of use. Mental well-being. That is why we decided that we must go online, even though when we started we had no idea what or how. Cancellation is not an option.
Our vision for an online WinterFest’20 is to try and replicate a lot of the dynamic found at the physical events which are so familiar to many of you. What makes these events attractive to our patrons? Well, at the top of the list it’s two things: Friendship and Metal.
On the friendship side, it’s all about interaction. The fact that people arrive and often take an hour to get past just the first area of the festival grounds because we see people we often think about, but between festivals so seldom get to talk to. Even when we get to the bands or DJ areas, the whole night is a very social affair for most people.
The metal side speaks for itself. Bands (inside the area we’ve recently named Headbangers Hall) and DJs (in the area we’ve named Serpent’s Pit). That has always been our formula.
Then in later years we’ve added other cool stuff. The Metal Market, with merchants selling of crafts and wares. The M4A Exchange, an area aimed to be less about noise and more about socializing. So on and so forth. The shows are more than a concert. There is a greater dynamic at play.
Therefore, it would be pretty shallow if we simply did a live stream or something so basic. The concept is to create an immersive “virtual space” where you can move around freely and engage with different people and different things as the mood takes you. Much the same as the physical event might do.
We’ve found a platform suitable to execute this kind of plan. It’s already popular among many of you who are also gamers. We’re using Discord. Discord is feature-rich and allows for large numbers of users to participate in a whole range of interactive activities. We can create “spaces” where people can watch streams, listen to streams, text chat, voice chat and video chat. Discord is available for desktop and for mobile. It’s perfect!
And for lots of us it’s also new. Which means maybe a little scary! Don’t worry. We’ve got time to figure out the quirks and iron out the kinks. We’ll be preparing some tutorial material for the newbs and probably a few smaller “warm-up” sessions closer to the big day. We’re still learning lots every day and most of what we’re working on is not ready for presentation yet. But stick with us. Follow the facebook event page or, even better, join our WinterFest’20 Registry (we won’t murder your inbox with nonsense – promise! – only essential updates at spaced intervals).
The facebook event page also has other info available in a Frequently Asked Questions format. Go and check it out. From this point on, we’ll update things regularly.