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A civilisation in the middle of nowhere
Join the Bananistas at a festival this coming Saturday that encourages all to think outside the box suggests ZOE CHRISTODOULIDES
Heaps of bananas and a wild night out aren’t often a winning combination. But bring together a dedicated creative team coupled with a good dose of inspirational music and what’s considered the norm is turned on its head. Last year, hundreds flocked to the most unlikely venue as the land around the old Piccadilly restaurant out in Ayios Trimithias was transformed into a party zone for an alternative event unlike the rest.
Bang in the middle of a rather arid, rural landscape, it was a sight worth savouring. And yes, the area was adorned with plenty of bananas as more than 1,000 people rejoiced in the very first party of the Afro Banana Republic. Now about to stir the waters for the second year running this coming Saturday, things have been taken up a notch with an even better line up and an undeniably unconventional approach with a whole fictional story adding new dimensions to the occasion.
“The key word here is ‘republic’,” proclaims the brainchild behind the occasion, Cotsios o Pikatillis. “What’s important is that the Afro Banana Republic is a community type of party inspired by community events abroad like the Burning Man and Fusion Festival. “We’re trying to create a ‘context out of context’ where people can get together and party in a different environment. It’s our own civilisation in the middle of nowhere.”
Cotsios is a DJ who divides his time between Cyprus and Berlin, often spotted with his arms high in the air at some local bar or club, giving crowds the chance to listen to some lesser heard genres on the island like funk, afrobeat and gypsy jazz. Having played at a number of festivals both here and abroad, he also stands as the founder of the legendary series of after hour parties going by the name of Wintergarden in Berlin.
Having joined forces with 15 freelance artists, the occasion is set to be bigger, better, and we dare say, wilder, than last year. Intent on putting together something that sets itself apart from everyday reality you may have seen the poster adorning numerous buildings around town depicting the guerrilla-faced, afro-haired El Presidente. Perhaps you’ve even seen the online video where the man himself is hailing avid fans dancing to the hypnotic beat. It has now been revealed that the curious character is meant to be an ex-revolutionary and the creator of The Republic. “Last year we set up the basis of this fictional story and now we’re giving meanings behind it; El Presidente is a man who picks out elements of culture from the past and introduces them to a new world as crowds are encouraged to join the heroes of the Bananistas movement,” explains Cotsios.
Fictional elements aside, what exactly can crowds expect this year? “After having more time to plan things we’ve created lots more conceptual surprises and interesting structural elements,” he lets on. As for the artistic group involved in bringing everything together, there’s a real mix of talents including graphic designers, architects, film producers, sculptors, musicians and fashion designers. Busy with sculptures and art that will adorn the festival area, the whole thing is set to create a real visual buzz.
With the music undoubtedly standing as the main highlight of the event, local and international DJs will join forces with live bands. “We’ve really paid so much attention to detail, making sure the music flows organically,” points out Cotsios. From funk and swing to jazz and afrobeat, the night will then culminate in electronic beats. There isn’t a second we haven’t thought of.” Adamant on raising the bar when it comes to quality music while aiming to provide something different to what most people hear on a regular night out, the goal is to promote really good music with a whole mix of genres.
As for the specific line up, the party will start off with the local Funkystratt, to be followed by a DJ set by Koulla P Katsikoronou, topped off by the Athenian Swing Shoes playing their beats. Then come plenty of sets with special guests including Teknon Brutus, Neco and Didier Dlb from Berlin with a whole host of other familiar names on the list featuring the likes of Cotsios himself, Tony Cusack, Mr Fox and VJ Static Noise.
“People in Cyprus are often satisfied with very poor standards but we’re trying to show just how high these standards can be,” insists Cotsios. “This is something new and alternative. It’s about developing an internationally recognised creative scene.”
With an emphasis on trying to get crowds to start the party early, there’ll be nibbles to indulge in while rumour has it that organisers have created a special cocktail exclusively for this night. “I won’t say too much but food will be a fusion of Spanish revolution mixed in with traditional Cypriot elements,” Cotsios says.
With a plan for the event to take on new proportions as the years go by, last year’s occasion attracted the attention of the Nicosia Municipality, with the Afro Banana team now working on a proposal for Nicosia 2017 (European Capital of Culture) as they develop ideas within a specific five year plan to really put Cyprus on the map of European Festivals. “We believe in stimulating a greater understanding of the alternative scene among Cypriots by establishing a relationship with networks of artists abroad. A great exchange is already happening with Berlin. We’re on a really good path.” And when it comes to this specific path, it’s one that’s quite literally lined with a few home grown bananas.
Afro Banana Republic
International and local DJs meet live bands for an exciting line up of funk, soul, swing, afro and electronic beats. September 8. Piccadilly Restaurant, Archibishop Makariou III, the old road towards Ayios Trimithias, Nicosia district (follow the bananas). Starts 8pm until 8am. €10. www.afrobananarepublic.com