2015 sparked a bit of a Star Wars frenzy, and the December 18 release date for Episode VII-The Force Awakens is rapidly approaching. While it remains to be seen whether the forthcoming release will be a much-needed revitalization of the series or a further decent into shittiness, one thing is certain: it will become a part of one of the most culturally significant franchises in the world. But the next episode is not the only thing to take advantage of the Star Wars universe this year, or even the most unique. That honor belongs to the Dunes Electroniques dance festivial in Tunisia.
Dunes Electroniques is an EDM show that took place in February, set among the remnants of the Tatooine sets constructed for filming The Phantom Menace. The grooving beats of local DJs were juxtaposed against the otherworldly backdrop of the fictional town of Mos Espa, and over 6,500 participants danced in the dust. Myriad Star Wars themed costumes were present, and despite novice organization and poor weather, the event was a roaring success.
While that’s cool and all, what this event means for the nation of Tunisia is far more important. In case you weren’t aware, Tunisia was one of the nations that underwent a radical transformation during the Arab Spring; Tunisians overthrew dictator Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali and established a democratic government. While the revolution has gone marginally better than most of the others (see Egypt, Libya, Syria…), the country is by no means placated.
The country is rife with geographical, cultural, and economic turmoil, and the ruling body, while chosen by the people, is not exactly what you’d call tolerant. Cap that off with the decision by a substantial portion of the youth to join ISIS, and what you have left is a powder keg of tension among the populace. Indeed, the festival’s security personnel consisted of over a thousand individuals, about equal to a sixth of those actually attending the festival.
“I was very afraid before coming. But now that I’m here, I feel safe. I was waiting for this for such a long time.” -Ghalia Awab
Ultimately, the event went, if not smoothly, then at least passably. Rain darkened the sky, but no conflict arose. The production was less than stellar, but no conflict arose. In this small festival in the middle of the desert, in the dilapidated walls of a placebo town, people set aside their differences and danced. It’s not a huge victory, but it’s a victory nonetheless. We’re proud to be a part of a music scene that can facilitate events like this, and if you are too, share your support on Facebook or Twitter!
If you’re more interested in the festival and its impact upon Tunisia, we highly recommend you read Yasmine Ryan’s report on the event.