I arrived in Marrakech in 2016, as I was starting my Lost Little One journey. I immediately began sourcing local artisans, without much of a plan. At that time I had only had the privilege of spending time in Morocco, one of the world’s few remaining kingdoms, once before. I took my sweet time working up the courage to hit the Medina and open up conversations with the locals about my Lost Little One vision. I arrived on the precipice of Eid al-Adha, a significant holiday in Morocco. Generally, the streets of Marrakech are bustling and full of life, with thousands of people hustling through them. However during Eid, those same streets all but shut down, leaving an eerie quiet where there is usually so much life. At this point, I had become resigned to the fact that I would just sit and relax, assuming that there was nothing else I could do but enjoy the serenity of these ghost-like streets.
I struck up a conversation with a fellow Aussie at my hostel. We had quite a bit in common, we both enjoyed techno music, Melbourne festivals like Rainbow Serpent, dancing, and of course travelling. She mentioned a party going down right here in Marrakech, which at the time took me by surprise - at this point, I had no idea that this sort of culture even existed in a place like Morocco. Like many, I had developed misconceptions about Morocco and countries alike. It was an eye-opening moment as I realised that the festival culture that we're so accustom to was prevalent right here in North Africa.
This festival was in serious need of volunteers. So, with nothing else planned for the weekend ahead, I was convinced to come along. I packed my bags and jumped in a taxi with a guy named Borgy. We had just met and I basically forced him to join me. We drove through this beautiful country en route Oasis Festival with no idea what to expect. It’s fair to say that we were pleasantly surprised upon arrival. The breathtaking location was a 5-star resort surrounded by desert, complete with villas, palm trees, pools, and an eclectic collection of people from every corner of the globe, each flown in for a special talent they were contributing to the event. Needless to say I couldn’t have been happier to be thrust into this inspiring environment full of energetic, creatives.
Image via Oasis Festival
I realised once we had settled, I had severely underestimated what sort of weekend I was in for. This wasn’t just a get-together for Moroccan musicians, this was a group of people executing an electronic music festival that rivalled its European counterparts. As I got to know the team behind this fantastic event, I met Nidal, my Moroccan 'sister'. We were both 25 at the time and to put it simply we just clicked. Nidal was born in Rabat, grew up in a small city called Tiflet and was an integral part of the Oasis team, which really impressed me at the time. I had never come across anyone like her before. Although what she was doing was quiet normal for me, a girl of the same age in Australia. Here in Morocco she was one of a kind. Which is probably the main reason why I was so drawn to her.
The weekend was nothing short of epic, and Oasis Festival brought such an incredible vibe. A 3 day event, in which every element was spectacular - a collision of east and west, boasting a diverse mix of cultures, styles, and nationalities. Paired with the most incredible music and international DJ's. Everyone here had a story to tell - from the performers, to the artists, to the attendees. It felt so special to have been brought together with this like-minded group of individuals, all sharing an experience through our love of music and the arts.
I’ve attended music festivals all over the world, in some of the most breathtaking, glorious settings. But I must say, there is truly no experience that compares to being whisked away into the African desert for a music festival. I found myself transported from the Marrakech Medina which truly is from another place in time, into Oasis Festival - fusing two worlds into one, creating a modern, Moroccan techno utopia.
Oasis festival was so out of the ordinary, that I left pinching myself. How on earth did I end up in the midst of a techno hub in the desert? A couple of weeks later I received a call from my new, local (& only) Moroccan girlfriend Nidal, asking me if I could volunteer at another music festival here in Morocco. This time we were hitting the South Atlantic Coast, spending a few days in another exotic location and working at Moga Festival in Essoauira.
This was when I realised that Oasis Festival was not a one off - there is a thriving scene here in Morocco, just like in Melbourne and so many other parts of the world. A scene of people who loved music with a passion, and who knew how to party like we do at home. Somehow, I had found myself entwined with a world of underground clubs and after hours parties, enjoying the company of locals who behaved just like my friends and I in Melbourne. Despite our cultural and geographical differences, despite our varied histories and vastly different experiences, it was one of the biggest life lessons for me. Teaching me that music can create a constant bridge, tethering people who are products of different environments to one another.
Music possesses a unique ability to connect us, to develop a mutual understanding built on rhythm, melody, and the movement of dance. An art of communication through the eyes and the heart, as opposed to the articulation of words. These chance meetings and unpredictable events helped to evolve the way that I saw Morocco. The people I met and the experiences I had reframed the way that I understood this incredible place.
Image via Oasis Festival
Nowadays, I love the time I spend in Morocco wholeheartedly; I adore my slow life there, the old towns where I reside, expanding my knowledge about Moroccan culture and history. As well as working with my leather artisans, creating and experiencing Morocco from a whole different perspective. But what strikes me most is the inspiring ability of Moroccan people who are willing and wanting to grow and craft new, modern experiences, while paying tribute to their culture -a culture that they are so obviously proud of. People come to a place like Morocco with misconceptions about what they'll find. I want people to realise that even though meeting someone such as Nidal in Morocco is not the ‘norm’, if you embrace opportunity and experience you can find yourself in unique situations, like dancing your little heart out in the desert until the wee hours of the morning.
In Morocco, and wherever you may go, there is always more than meets the eye. More than those perfectly curated Instagram pictures in front of Moroccan doors, more than the old towns and the mosques or a camel ride in the desert (as amazing as it is). Morocco is a tale of two countries - one which can be perceived from the outside, and one which must be experienced from within.
These Festivals that Borgy and I attended back in 2016 were so amazing that we have decided to link up in Morocco this September, where we’ll be joining the old crew, including Nidal, to work at Oasis Festival for it's 5th edition.
Oasis Festival, Marrakech
Moga Festival, Essaouira