“Coracle Beach Music Festival” (Bien Ho Tram, Vietnam)

Coracle Beach Music Festival

Bien Ho Tram, Vietnam – November 27, 2018

We boarded a 45-person party bus after scanning out of work on Friday. Wearing funky shirts, blasting music on a portable speaker, standing up and dancing in the isle, smoking cigarettes inside, and asking to stop for a pee every 20-minutes ended up taking us about 3-hours to get from HCMC to Bien Ho Tram beach campground—our weekend destination for Coracle Music Festival. I think we all just assumed there were “no rules” on the bus, because everyone was being absolutely ridiculous. At one point after a pee-break, the bus driver went on strike and sat on the curb of the road, crossing his arms and refusing to board the bus. Some girls begged him to finish the journey. Upon arriving at the first hotel, the driver refused to take us to our hotel, we left our stuff in someone else’s room and started walking to the festival.

Maybe the bus driver felt bad, (or maybe he was tipped $25 extra), but he ended up picking us up along the way. Getting to the festival was an absolute ruckus: Someone rolled their ankle, someone lost their suitcase, and some people forgot their tickets in the hotel… BUT we finally made it into the venue for the last song of Oddissee and Good Company’s set, closing down the main stage. From here, we moved to the “dance stage,” which was bumping all night. This stage felt like a little forested nest that was cradled by furry blue beach-pines. The festival grounds were pretty DIY, with simple white Christmas lights wrapped in tonal plastic foils… Somehow when the sun went down, the illuminated hovering colors were beautiful. Friendly volunteers smiled as they filled drinks and nitrous-oxide balloons from behind thatched tiki-bars.

On Saturday, the ATM in our small town was out of money. We killed two birds with one stone and took money out in the next town over while picking up our stuff at the boys’ hotel room. I knocked the first time I entered to make sure it was okay to proceed. When I left, I realized I had accidentally taken the wrong bottle of alcohol, so I barged back in and definitely caught someone scurrying across the room, bashfully trying to hide their bare bottom. Naked-ass in the morning—not the worst thing to wake up to. Besides nudity, on Saturday, “trop tops,” were all the rage. I love the easygoing styles of Vietnam. It’s like the weirder/funkier your prints… the cooler you seem. Everyone looks festive, colorful and comfortable. And let’s be honest, whose jaw doesn’t drop at the sight of man in floral? Actually, I buy all my trippy t-shirts from a men’s clothing store, where I can find the coolest patterned shirts for 80k ($3).

My favorite Saturday set was an ethereal Japanese “traditional mixing” group (Daichi Mo-waii) that actually gave me chills as the wind washed their sounds up the beach. Their sounds were so bright and prickly that the hair on my entire body stood on end. A jazz symphony, composed of expats from Hanoi rocked the main stage, with crisp horns and saxity-softness floating across the waves. After an all-day-build-up and watching a group of drag queens paint their faces on for three hours, the most fanatical spectacle was Gender Funk. They hosted theatrical events and dance-offs while cranking classic angsty girl-powered throwbacks. I saw the terrified look on the faces of all the guys around us as we scared the living daylights out of them with how hard we raged to “Who Run The World,” and “I Fink U Freaky.”

I’ve never been to a beach festival before, but I have to say there’s something magical about running around with bare feet… shoeless, traipsing footsteps across the cool sand. All weekend, people relaxed on embroidered mandalas, took warm swims in the ocean, observed the wind as it wrested with enormous octopus and clownfish kites, rested in giant woven wicker baskets, and caught some needed breaths of fresh oceanic air outside of the city. After seeing the sweet setup of the campsite, I wish we had camped, but it was nice to wake up in comfy hotel beds. We roused, revived and ready for our next week at work… sandy grime coating every corner of our bodies and purple glitter caught in unfathomable places.


Alena Netia Horowitz | Miss Potato

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