“I turned 29 yesterday so I’m … less inclined to be rolling around in the dirt and drinking warm beers from the boot of my car. And eating shitty food – which I’ve got nothing against either – but I’m just getting old,” Maxwell Stuart – the co-organiser of new Victorian mini-festival A Weekend With – says, jokingly.
As one of the organisers of Melbourne’s beloved Daydreams party series, Stuart has a pretty good idea of what makes a dance floor move, but wanted to put on a party that transcends the average festival experience. Along with festival co-organiser Alexander Albrecht, from Melbourne label Analogue Attic Recordings, Stuart will stage A Weekend With at Mount Ophir Estate, a farm and vineyard first established in 1891.
Throughout the sprawling, historical brick buildings of the old winery the pair are staging an experiential weekend – part dance festival, part communal feast, part art installation.
“Without giving too much away, there’s areas … you won’t realise [something’s happening in] until later,” says Stuart. “A few festivals I’ve been to I’ve found things that haven’t been promoted – like renegade stages, weird performances. Stuff like that I find really interesting.”
At fabled ’70s New York City disco club The Loft, host and DJ David Mancuso would provide guests with a bountiful table of juice and fresh fruit as sustenance for his all-night dance parties. In the same spirit, there’ll be a communal feast – included in the ticket price – the first night of the festival by chef Sam Bate. The Mediterranean-influenced spread will centre on vegan and vegetarian dishes.
“I feel like the food truck thing is just so played out and kind of a bit of a cop out,” says Stuart. “[For the communal feast] you can just sort of arrive at whatever time you like, collect your meal, get a glass of wine and go sit down. The idea is you just sit around with old friends and meet new friends.”
There’ll be wine on tap from Castlemaine independent winemaker Boomtown Wine, Chevre Wines from the Otway Ranges, and others. The plan is to avoid the exorbitant prices seen at major festivals. A glass will set you back around $7.50 and a carafe $25.
“[The wineries we’ve chosen] make all these wines that aren’t for mass production, so we just tried a whole bunch and were like, ‘Yeah, that’s amazing, can we have 50 litres of that?’”
Friday’s music will be by Hope Street Radio – the online radio station that broadcasts live from Collingwood pizza-party spot Lazerpig. Live acts include Brooke Powers, Merve and Moopie.
Saturday will see a bigger focus on music and visual art. The morning will be curated by the electronic and ambient focussed Analogue Attic Recordings. Albrecht and fellow label head Sean La’Brooy will perform under their Albrecht La’Brooy guise alongside Australian jazz guitarist Stephen Magnusson. In the afternoon the team from Daydreams will take over, hosting disco singer Claudia Jones, SHOUSE and Digital Afrika.
As the sun sets the unique venue will really come into its own. Sydney-based audiovisual collective Soft Centre will create a one-off light installation and curate a line-up of visual and musical artists to exploit the possibilities of the unique location.
Sunday is set up to ease guests out of party mode with more food and a chilled, dub and reggae filled program until 3pm. There’ll be breakfast for purchase, and free filter coffee courtesy of Everyday Coffee, owned by Stuart’s Daydreams partner Mark Free.
“I don’t like how on the last day of the festival everyone sort of packs up their shit and gets out of there as quickly as possible,” says Stuart. “I feel like it’s dangerous in that you probably haven’t had that much sleep and you should take a minute to wake up properly and have some food and coffee before driving all the way back home.”
If a wild, experimental rave-feast in a truly unique location sounds like your thing, get in quick – there are only 500 tickets.
Accommodation ranges from BYO tents to glamping. Sadly Mount Ophir Estate's Airbnb options have been booked, including the three-storey French provincial tower – whoever booked that one better host kick ons or the festival organisers could have a good old-fashioned castle siege on their hands.
A Weekend With takes place at Mount Ophir Estate, Rutherglen from November 23 to 25, 2018. Tickets here.