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This is Salt A Way: 24+ hours of non-stop sonic euphoria by Indonesia's Sunda Strait

The cult-favourite shoreside rendezvous makes its bold return to an elated audience

  • 28 September 2022

Mention the word ‘Carita’ to young adults living in the metropolis that is Jakarta and you’ll be met with nostalgic tales of sunny, beachside holidays with the family. Located in the Western Java region three hours from the capital city, the town is known for its white sand beaches and, on a clear day, views of Anak Krakatau — roughly translated to Child of Krakatoa. Yes, that Krakatoa; the one that exploded in 1883 with a force of 100 megatons of TNT, generating the loudest sound ever recorded.

In 2018, Carita was hit by another devastating natural disaster. Due to the continuous eruptions of the still active Anak Krakatau, a tsunami hit most of the coastal areas of the Sunda Strait. Shaken by the incident, which resulted in thousands wounded, hundreds of casualties and 23 missing, Carita’s once-admiring visitors chose to steer clear of the coast.

Brought together by the search and rescue and clean-up efforts, ‘Carita Boys’ was established; a group of young men, born and raised in Pantai Carita (Carita Beach). Bonded by their daily activities together — but mostly by their love of surfing — Carita Boys collectively contemplated on how they could revive the area they’re undoubtedly proud of. What else besides the beach’s natural charm could rope visitors back?

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Music was the answer — music festivals to be exact. Reaching out to their peers in other cities, Carita Boys started to amplify their already existing event, Salt A Way, which they boosted (both in terms of social media and morale) with the hashtag #MelipirKePesisir — an invitation to #RunAwayToTheCoast. Held at a local B&B named Cindewulung for its first few editions, Salt A Way has now expanded both in venue and fanbase.

With a larger audience to cater to, Salt A Way’s 2022 location shifted an additional hour away to the pristine stretch of sand that is Pantai Bodur (Bodur Beach).

The advance team made up of Carita Boys, Jakarta-based collective Studiomaja and other individual organisers went straight to work sprucing up the site. Setting up signs with uplifting messages, DIY arcade games and the festival’s f&b area, the enthusiastic men and women created a delightfully decorated venue for day-to-night (to day again) frolicking.

“What makes Salt A Way stand out from other events is its local modesty that’s capable of radiating an abundance of energy,” explains Rimba Mahardika — Festival Director and proud Carita Boys member.

“The locals appreciated our efforts in cleaning up and promoting the area, which we also invited them to be a part of. It was a communal accomplishment, and in the process, we all became closer to one another. I think the community’s positive response comes back to the mutual respect that was given towards the rules and customs of the area,” he adds.

When the weekend of August 27-28 finally arrived, so did the hordes of big-city punters from Jakarta, Bandung, to even as far as Bali. Ecstatic from their past Salt A Way experiences, the festival’s on-site camping filled up with overexcited attendees from 3 pm on Saturday. Kicking off with a traditional dance named ‘Tari Rencong’, the fifth instalment of Salt A Way was well on its way towards a 24+ hour, non-stop presentation of homegrown talents.

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A total of 15 performances brought the festival’s two stages to life. Over on the main stage, the masses were greeted by the eclectic sounds of the Boogiemax quartet and Talking Machine duo who properly warmed up the crowd in facing the many more hours of dancing in the dark to come. Simultaneously at Away — the second, smaller yet far from trivial stage located closer to the water — Ricky Virgana’s feel-good set followed by Dreadsmad’s skankin’ sounds scored the slowly setting sun.

To say the festival came even more alive at night would be an understatement. Dazed by the delightful darkness while sandwiched by the strait and the trees, festival-goers shuffled (and oftentimes blissfully stumbled) between both stages.

The only female in this year’s official line-up, Kenya unleashed her prowess in commanding the sandy dancefloors over on the Away stage, with fellow Yogyakartan DJ Guling continuing to do the same.

Just a two-minute walk away, Sunmantra’s live set quenched the thirst of their cult following who had only been seeing the trio through screens during the pandemic. Their hypnotic compositions filled with traces of undulating synthplay resulted in scattered fistpumps and sidestepping, with the occasional “woohoo” shouts here and there. Following was the undoubtedly groove-centric set by brothers Anton Wirjono and Hogi Wirjono of Future10 who continued working the tireless crowd. Up next, Komodo kept the dancefloor gyrating into the night with his intense beats and sublime tones.

All this before 12 am, might we add.

The Dekadenz trio of Jonathan Kusuma, Ridwan Susanto and Aditya Permana then respectively presented their midnight-appropriate sets of acid-tinged ambient, moody beats to the (still) bright-eyed and bushy-tailed crowd. By the shore, Potato Head Bali stalwart Seabass and Jakarta’ Saturn both refused to let the fire die down as they soundtracked the wee hours of the morning with their enigmatic resonances.

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Just before the sun’s rays began to shine upon the still-smiling faces of the crowd, the Gentle Tuesday duo of Baldi Calvianca and Lvxkowalski aka Benedict Pardede shifted the narrative with their avant-garde, psychedelia-infused list of tracks that provided a soothing, sunrise soundtrack. Their set flawlessly set in motion an ambience of comforting sounds, which was immediately followed by Aryo Adhianto’s one-man-live-show of organic, experimental tunings at 7 am and the soulfully dub-heavy set of Namoy Budaya which ended at 9 am.

The cherry on top; a pop-up, open deck session hosted by Yogyakarta’s Mantrino Records. Enthusiastic attendees equipped with their flashdisks stormed the makeshift deck to share their playlists until 4 pm, resulting in the euphoric end of Salt A Way 2022.

No wonder this year’s attendees are already anticipating their next Sunda Strait rendezvous.

For more info on the cult-favourite festival, follow Salt A Way on Instagram here.

Amira Waworuntu is Mixmag Asia’s Editorial Assistant, follow her on Instagram.

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