Fri, May 24, 2002 - Page 7 News List

Can't hear the jungle for the trees

techno, ambient and jungle beats will all be heard at an electronic music festival in kenting next weekend that will also have party-goers planting trees and dancing to lectures

By David Frazier  /  STAFF REPORTER

Following the three, three-night raves, the one, four-day concert and the other assorted parties of April's Spring Scream weekend, one disillusioned party-goer lamented the condition of Kenting, noting how the southern beach town had been completely "raped by the plastic ravers and English-teacher-wanna-be-rock-stars."

Next weekend, a group of well-meaning and perhaps overly optimistic party organizers, DJs and electronica scene adjuncts hopes to repair some of the damage to Taiwan's southern peninsula with a special event called The Planting. Taking place next Saturday and Sunday on the Wang Shih Farm (王氏草場) about halfway between Kenting and Olanbi, this potentially unique happening will involve the planting of 1,000 trees, discussions on noise pollution and other "ecological" concerns related to raves, and, yes, a line-up of some of the biggest names in DJing in Taiwan.

The event itself is almost set up like a weekend conference for rave industry insiders, with seminars, speeches, activities and of course a gala party. The "party" site will be divided into a main dance area and a subordinate chill-out zone. But the P.A. system of the main area will be used for both DJs and a line-up of speakers on environmental issues, who will deliver their various messages over subtle background beats.

One of the key issues to be addressed is noise pollution. Organizers claim that noise pollution, not drugs, is the reason about half of all parties in Taiwan run into trouble with the police. The environment is another major area of concern.

So far, The Planting has already been able to garner support from a few mainstream environmental groups, including T.J. Wu of the Green Formosa Front and Dr Niven Huang (黃茂雄) of Taiwan's Business Council for Sustainable Development, who bought the first of the 1,000 saplings to be planted.

Of the 34 others who had bought trees by yesterday, DJs David Jr (Rock Candy), King, Fish, Monbaza, Hsiao Y (Y), Lin Chiang (林強), Bar King Bob and Guya were included. All of them will also take time slots on the turntables for the party, spinning music from at least 6pm Saturday to 8am Sunday.

The trees themselves are of the species terminalia catappa, better known as the tropical almond (大葉杏仁). The species is a deciduous variety indigenous to southern Taiwan that can grow to a height of at least 15m. The leaves are broad, waxy and grow in clusters, and usually around 30cm long, they turn pink before falling. Locally, dried leaves are used as an herbal treatment for liver disease. The trees also produce nutty fruits of around 5cm in diameter that taste like commercially produced almonds.

But more than just big leafy things, these tropical almond trees will also serve as tickets to the party -- in sapling form. They cost NT$500 in advance, or NT$800 at the door.

According to the party schedule, they will all be planted on the Wang Shih farm at around dawn Sunday morning. Those unable to attend the party can still buy trees, and following The Planting, digital photos of the saplings freshly rooted in the soil and bearing a placard with the donor's name will be e-mailed to them.

But will all this actually do any good? In contrast to the gushing optimism professed by most associated with The Planting, one source close to the event was still skeptical of all the dreamy intentions. He said: "Nobody's really certain if the discussions are just going to be a few people sitting around on the grass and talking ? [the entire event] might just be a bunch of ravers trying to ease their consciences."

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