It Never Ends

December is longer for some than others. Russell Grant looks back on the month that saw us hitting up Matric Rage, The Winston Ball, Boxing Day Cricket, Smoking Dragon and much, much more. It’s a long read, but it’s worth it.


The word December itself, with its eight curved letters all even and exactly divisible, I have always found great beauty and happiness in. Sitting like a gold bar at the bottom of the calendar. The month of my birthday, Christmas, and New Year, the end of the school year and the beginning of holidays. I’ve always wondered whether other people felt as much fiery adoration for months like April, or February; such eventless periods, like filler between hooks on a Drake track.


This year, however, my December brought with it a heaviness, not of gold, but of leaden heartbreak, of relentless and ruthless change, of moving back into your parent’s house without a room; the lounge floor becoming my pillow for my weary head. I left a heartbroken, perhaps irreparably, in my wake, with nothing but a few meagre savings and a plan to live as hard as I possibly could. It was to be a cold summer, but still, there was much to look forward to. The coming of Roger, Justin, and JR; Matric Rage, a certain Christmas party at a certain prominent Durban DJ’s Umbilo abode, a ton of house parties, and Smoking Dragon festival.


The month of jolling probably began at The Winston, and it was probably a Thursday. Bob and I were trying to find elaborate ways to avoid taking on any actual responsibilities for the remainder of the month (hence this all-in-one retrospective on December which you may or may not care about). Roger Young had arrived the day before, and whilst we had successfully avoided him the night before, there was no escaping on Thursday. He arrived in all his charismatic glory, sporting his pixelated naked girl t-shirt, and demanding that we buy him alcohol and drugs, “here’s the thing”, he explained “I’m on my Minor Irresponsibilities tour and so I have brought no money with me”. I obliged and bought him a beer. Followed by a tequila. Many more followed, and when I finally ran out of money I was confronted with a dilemma: Roger was staying with his parents (who are located near my parents), and in keeping with the theme of the night would be requiring a lift home. I had, however, been given a hookup opportunity for the night that I would need to forfeit if I gave in to the lift request. Needless to say, I gave in to Roger’s request, and was promised a blowjob as recompense. I have yet to receive this blowjob.


The next couple days were a blur of early mornings and wasted days in the build up to the first big event of the month: Matric Rage. As a 27 year old male whose last Matric Rage experience was close on 8 years ago, some might think our attending was something a little akin to creepy. And you would be right. Our goal was to embed ourselves with actual matrics, and to document the debauched fuck and drug fest first hand. We stayed with the only man in the area older than us, Liam Magner, a man dating a girl who has just finished matric. Besides us were at least 4 or 5 other matric girls. We drank furiously and bragged about our blogging achievements and connections, which seemed to impress one of them. Bob made a video of the girls dancing around the lounge before we headed out to the main festival, which now has a very large dedicated area with marquees and bars and official looking people walking around organising things, very different to the informal, almost rustic feel of my first MR experience.


Bob and I had convinced ourselves that with the release of Harmony Korine’s Springbreakers, fresh faced youths, clad in vests and booty shorts, would be eager to strip down in public and consume narcotics in various and conspicuous ways. To form gangs and off each other outside Sub Zero in bikinis in the day, and fire off pistols into the rising sun on the beach. Clearly most fresh faced youths have not heard of Harmony Korine, so our night was spent largely in the backstage area of the festival, consuming free/stolen alcohol and partaking of PHFat’s food rider. We ventured out on the odd occasion to watch one of the acts, which were generally quite good, and searched high and low for debauchery, but all we found were large males soberly bench-pressing sober females above their heads, and a whole lot of rejection (one girl audibly letting her massive male friend know that the guy with the beard was creeping her out).



It was time to leave. We grabbed the last of the free whiskey and rice and headed for the dedicated Matric Rage taxis which were equipped solely with subwoofers. We arrived at an unknown club. The girls we were staying with decided to leave, whilst Bob and I forged on into deeper Rage territory. Surely here, during the night’s darkest hours, we would witness true unbridled and fiendish consumption by repressed youths seeking liberation from their christian fathers. Alas, it was not to be. Before entering the club, Bob and I made a pact to stick together. Things can’t get that weird as long as we have each other. 10 minutes in and I had lost Bob. I, a lone bearded man drifting through curtains of Axe deodorant and low self esteem, avoiding all eye contact lest I be perceived as a pervert in need of a swift beat down. I found Bob soon after. He had located some girls who he kinda knew and we began dancing. I moved in on one of the them, but Bob quickly told me that she was to be his for the night. I was alone again, and would be through the remainder of the night as we ventured to the beach to watch the sunrise and pretend to discuss important things about life and stuff.


At daybreak we arrived back at the house to find most people either asleep or missing, and therefore unable to answer cellphones to let us in. Apparently Liam had  fought with his girlfriend the previous night, and so he left. He was our only way in. As the streets began to fill with the few retirees brave enough to stay in Ballito during the holiday months, walking their dogs and airing their speedos, Bob and I were contemplating sleeping underneath the car. Thankfully matric girls are not renowned for being responsible, so a few shocks from an electric fence and a pile of garden furniture later we were finally up on our balcony to find the sliding door thoughtfully unlocked. We assumed the couch with a pair of unknown lads and laid our heads down for the rest of the morning.


Such was our first memorable December experience. The second came a little while later (I’m not sure if days or weeks), on the night of the Winston Ball, an event so expertly crafted to draw sweat from your pores it rivals most bodybuilding contests for highest levels of collective dehydration. Before that, though, was a Christmas party at a famous Durban DJ’s swanky downtown penthouse. By “famous” I mean somewhat well known in certain clubbing circles, and by “swanky downtown penthouse” I mean deep Umbilo flat there by the cemetery. Bob and I arrived looking neat in our Uber cab (I take cash or EFT), and found Roger, already deep into the party. We were offered punch, which may or may not have contained MDMA, and went about mingling. Roger had set his sights on two females that night. He had been warned to steer clear of one of them by a guy in a red shirt. “Dude, don’t give her any drugs ‘cause she gets out of hand and fucks up jols”. “Excellent”, thought Roger as he searched his pockets for leftover drugs. Unfortunately, red shirt guy had taken it upon himself to guard the females with his physical person, and so whenever Roger got within fingering distance of one of them he would swiftly insert himself betwixt them, which was easily the greatest display of cockblocking prowess I have ever seen.


This was a Christmas party, so at some unremembered hour we all gathered in the lounge to exchange gifts. I brought a “my first drum” from the toy store. Roger brought a back/gooch massager. Bob brought an assortment of toys. I left with a bottle of champagne, Roger a pool noodle, and Bob something I can’t remember. Someone got a bottle of poppers, which flew around the room and reduced us all to laughing obnoxious fools, chanting and tossing things whenever someone was called to open a present. The host, presided with the jug of MDMA punch, fending off our fiendish advances. Soon the punch and poppers were done, so it was off to the sweaty Winston.



Between this and New Year’s Eve, December is more or less a blur of over-indulgence and good times (such is why God created this beautiful month). There were some house parties at the now defunct Lennox house, which was a digs off Florida Rd where people’s car’s got broken into a lot. Poor decisions were made and sleeping was done on the roof. I shall leave it at that. These were not epic house parties by epic house party standards (I’m using a very high metric here), but it certainly became base camp for the Durban party faithful for a while (this has been the first DIY review of a house party/house parties).



Besides that was OffThaRecord, a monthly party which goes down in the alley at the back of Cool Runnings. All the DJs play on vinyl and they host the odd band. There is lots of Hip-Hop, some twerking, and a scarcity of white people. The vibe is always friendly if somewhat turned down at times, but maybe if more people knew about it/weren’t so scared of town, it could become a really great thing. There really aren’t too many things better than partying under the stars in your home city.



I shall mention the Boxing Day Test match simply to say that I lost at that damn coin game, creeped on a girl, showered with Bob and another girl, surfed an inflatable boat down the stands, and then bailed down the stairs in front of our national cricket side. Dale Steyn pointed and laughed, making up for the less than entertaining cricket performance.



The crown jewel of December 2013 had to be Smoking Dragon, sitting there at the top of the tree like an angel, full of the promise of one final blowout before the new year commences and responsibility slithers its slithery way back into your jeans for yet another year. If you’ve read Roger’s review of it, you will understand. It’s a tiny festival held at the Amphitheatre Backpackers Lodge almost exactly midway between Joburg and Durban. It lasts three days, the final night being New Years Eve (that’s if you make it to New Years Eve, something a couple of my, um, friends didn’t). It’s a lot like Splashy, but with lush grass, a pool, a jacuzzi, proper accommodation, nice showers, and a legitimate bar. Things that make it like Splashy are an abundance of hippies with their tie-dye and slacklining, a truly catastrophic line-up, some poor MCing, and bad organisation. Such things, however, give this young festival character. So what if the power went out on the second night for a few hours? Or that the septic tank burst, washing the lower campsite with fresh human shit? To be honest, I didn’t care about any of these things, I still had a fantastic time. But (and it’s a big ‘but’) the music, though.


Dear God, the music.


Besides Gateway Drugs, Beach Party, The Dollfins, Fruits and Veggies, Black Math, and a couple DJs, everything else sounded like a hellish amalgam of once-a-year free stage enthusiasts with a passion for 90’s cock rock, and nepotism. Bands that practice at least bi-monthly would have been cool. Then there was The Slashdogs… A band I’d grown up admiring for their ballsy, no-fucks-given rock ‘n’ roll, played an acoustic set more befitting of a church service than a music festival. To see a band fall so thoroughly from grace like that put a solid dampener on my night.


There were of course highlights. Seeing Bob standing at the bar, backlit and emotional, shouting, “Everyone I love always leaves me!” into the night was certainly one of them. The other was the jacuzzi party that technically never happened. New Years Eve itself was what New Years Eve always is: a bit of a let down. This was mainly because the previous two nights had been masterclasses in excess (and the fact that the only drug dealer in the festival had downed tools). I saw the year in with a handful of friends, listened to some bad music, watched a lacklustre fireworks display (approximately half an hour after the stroke of midnight), and fell asleep under the stars at about 1:30.

And such was December, overall a blur of good times, emotions, drama, over-indulgence, a hunt for Roger’s misplaced pool noodle, and concerned looks/whatsapp messages from my friends. Many condemned my childish and idiotic ways (mostly to others, a few to me personally), fearing I had flown off the rails into an oblivion of YOLO and JOL and other such things. True, I had a fairly wild December (which continued into most of January). But what else does one do fresh from heartbreak and upheaval? The smarter and less narcissistic among you probably have a few answers, which I implore you to leave in the comments section below. As I sit here writing this, injured but alive, emotional but more or less together, in moderately heavy debt and wondering whether it was all worth it, I can muster no conclusions. It is now February, and tonight I will probably go out, have a good time, and return to my couch in my parents’ living room with a couple stories to tell. In the words of a certain infamous South African writer, “It never ends”.


*All images © Russell Grant Google

8 Responses to “It Never Ends”
  1. Marty says:

    My favourite article to date.
    Good work Russ.
    You made me miss December, but also taught me to treat each month as if it were December while I sit at work now, wasting time on the company dime.
    Time was not wasted here today.


  2. Kelly says:

    This was hella rad!! Left me feeling rather nostalgic… haha!

    Good job, Russ!

  3. Girl With A Bum says:

    Exquisitely written as always, Russell. x

  4. Nemza says:

    Fantastic Sool.

  5. Un-Yung says:

    Awesome read. So much empathy.

  6. monsieur-montana says:

    I’m with Marty. Stellar article Russ.

  7. Hate Eternal says:

    Kiff OR Kak?

  8. Radmin says:

    This isn’t Mahala.

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