Fingers crossed: Việt Nam’s festival season is here to stay

Having been invited to what was being billed Việt Nam’s first dance festival– A dOSe of Escape 2013, held on Saturday in Hồ Chí Minh City – it brought me back to memories of the cherished summer festival season in Britain.

There are literally hundreds of festivals when the long-suffering U.K. citizens finally get some decent weather and time off to party.

Jugglers throw some fiery bottles in the air much to the delight of onlookers

This summer for example there is the usual heavyweights of Glastonbury, Leeds/Reading and T in the Park which will have hundreds of thousands of fans watching their heroes in action in Somerset, Yorkshire/Berkshire and Perthshire, and even a first ever jazz festival monikered Mostly Jazz Funk & Soul Festival and a yoga festival bizarrely or not as the case may be.

It is fair to say Little Britain loves a good festival but how would the Saigonese react to their first big chance to party in large numbers festival-style?

Some revelers check they have got some good snaps at the big event

With a reported 9,500 tickets sold with the venue apparently hosting at least 5,000 dance fans it looked like it was going to be a good one.

My group and I arrived early bells and only had a 45 minute wait for a speedboat ride at the Tôn Đức Thắng pier and off we were to Diamond Island in District 2 in style.

The earlier rain had halted and we walked around what seemed a small area for the expected thousands.

At about 5pm I guessed there were only 2,000 at the festival site with some hanging around the dry outdoor area and others having a splash at the pool area upstairs on the first floor of the partly-built apartment complex.

The pool area was really small and even with only a few hundred people I could sense problems ahead, the only spaces seemed to be in the pool and in the VIP area.

There seemed to be more people at this point checking out the sports cars, super bikes and hot models around the car show area near the pool.

It is hang out time for some festival-goers as the party goes on

It was early, though, and once darkness came, it all came to life with local boy Kaiser T among other DJs getting the party started.

It was in full pelt now with no letting up.

Then disaster struck by 9pm.

By this time there were around 5-6,000 of the ticket holders in the festival but the food and drink had either ran out or been halted for some reason.

None was given to the hungry and thirsty revelers with most partying on anyway.

At this point there was traffic queuing back as the eye could see with hundreds still desperate to join the action.

The DJ area is swamped with bodies and stunning screen effects

By midnight it was over.

Headline acts such as DJ kimkat not even getting a chance to play their set to finish up the pool party, resulting in a lot of frustrated fans who had literally just arrived or were gutted at missing out on seeing their idols and having to head home disappointed, maybe lost forever to festival organizers.

Now it would be easy to jump on the bandwagon and blame the organizers for everything.

The rain for a start was not their doing and of course this was their first attempt.

No festival has ever hit the mark first time and that includes the big ones in the U.K.

Give them a chance folks to iron out their teething problems for next time.

It’s party time as Saigonese get into the groove of A doSe of Escape’s top DJs

I had a chance to chat to Kaiser T, the 2012 pioneer champion of Việt Nam, who insists organizers have to look to their European and Asian counterparts and go the whole hog, dance and rock bands combined.

The Sài Gòn-based DJ is a big fan of British indie acts like the Libertines, Arctic Monkeys and Franz Ferdinand and would love to see local rock bands get their chance to play in front of huge audiences in the British-style weekend format.

DJ Kaiser T and the A-Trix Team provide some great tunes and fun for the Sài Gòn massive

He said:

“I would love Sài Gòn to have a music festival with not only DJs but live rock bands.

Now that would be cool.

Maybe such an event could be held every year like the big festivals in the UK such as T in the Park or Glastonbury.

“I love rock music and especially British rock acts and it would be great if we could bring some over to Việt Nam.”

One thing which organizers may fear, though, in future festivals is the fact that Saturday’s festival finished up at midnight, instead of 4am as intended.

The cost is also a factor. Saturday’s A dOSe of Escape 2013 tickets were only priced at VND200,000, about US$10, but weekend-long affairs at T in the Park (three days) and Glastonbury (five days) this year both cost a whopping 205 British pounds (around $US300).

However, their line-ups match the extravagant prices with this year’s participants including the Rolling Stones, Snoop Dog, Mumford and Sons, Arctic Monkeys and the Killers.

Some festival-goers have a breather as they enjoy the sounds from afar

Trân, though, insisted that he was honored to be able to play the festival, especially as it was his 30th birthday.

“I had such an amazing time and I suppose I was lucky as I was on early and got to play.

It was also my birthday so I had a double celebration.”

He says.

“I think a lot of things were out of the organizers’ control.

A lot of people didn’t turn up because of the weather.

The rain was on and off all day.

People were not sure what acts were on at what time.

It was the first one, though, so I am sure the organizers will do better next time.

“The food and drink thing obviously is not good and some people were angry as the festival shut up early.

The best part of the festival was from 5pm to 9pm when it was lively and everything was going well.

I also was on stage at that time.

A lot of DJs were disappointed they didn’t get to go on stage.

A lot of lessons can be learned for next time.”

It is time to take a dip and enjoy the top tunes at the pool area

That next time is apparently December 31 and a New Year welcoming party at the same venue.

During the hot season the rain can be avoided but some may wonder what organizers will do about the food/drink and early finish problems for next time?

The most important thing, though, is that there is a next time and that hot or wet season festivals are here to stay in Sài Gòn and Việt Nam.

There are no losers when festivals come to town.



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