Something is stirring along the dunes in Tunisia — a slight untz untz is heard from the distance from a usually calm and quiet night. Change is admidst in a country where civil unrest is never too far away. Trying to stray away from a top-down cultural landscape and transforming it to be more centered around the youth population.
Over the last several years, festivals have grown in size and popularity — with the chosen sites ranging from the old Woodstock stomping grounds to ancient Catalonian Fortresses with the creativity become more and more imaginative. The Dunes Electroniques dance festival, surrounded by sand dunes with the backdrop to the stage being the “Star Wars” film set of the town of Mos Espa.
“We’re creating a new image of Tunisia — that we don’t live in fear, that we like to party,” says Patrick Ouerghi, one of the events organizers and the manager of the Dar HI Hotel in Nefta.
The (“neck of the camel”) or Ong Jemal, where the festival takes place, is near the villages of Nefta and Tozeur, which sit on the cusp of the massive Chott el-Gharsa salt lake. While this festival, could in fact, be held anywhere else, the majority of it’s attendees didn’t travel a hefty distance to partake in this desert rave. It’s a homegrown event; meant to help lure in the younger, more venturesome crowd, outside of tourist season.
Benoit Geli, another one of the minds that have helped form Dunes Electroniques, remarks, “It was the first time that [young Tunisians] had been able to attend a festival like this.” Geli and his team of event organizers from Nice, France, took the general premise of the Plages Electroniques festival that takes place in the French Riviera and adapted it to fit the Tunisian desert environment.
One of the DJs from Tunisian DJ Deena Abdelwahed had something similar to say, “I play internationally, but this one is for Tunisian people. The public [here] is mostly Tunisian, so this is even better, for me. I don’t get this often.”
With old and new alike dancing alongside each other in their burnooses, the long wool cloaks traditionally worn by the Jedi Order in the “Star Wars” series, the good vibes brought on by the festival seemingly reflect Tunishia’s innate ability to avoid most of the conflict in and otherwise region plagued with violence and revolt. This is a unique paradise for anyone looking to get away for a good time but those immersed in the Star Wars culture shouldn’t pass this up the next go-around.
Source: Al Jazeera America