Most everyone who’s traveled to Fiji loves Fiji. The white sand beaches, wild jungles, virgin reefs, and heaving surf breaks offer the promise of endless adventure. But it’s the Fijian culture that makes the biggest impression on travelers. Governed by a tribal system, with complex water and property rights, the island chain is vastly different from what most Westerners have grown up with.
The whole place is also exceptionally low-key. Which is why I find a massive, pulsing rave hosted on a Fijian island so damn fascinating.
Earlier this week, I had the chance to chat with Hadi J — one of four founders of Fiji’s YourParadise Festival — to ask him questions about pulling off a party of this scope on the tranquil island chain. I was also eager to know how the festival merges music with Fiji’s bountiful outdoor pursuits and, of course, his advice for first-time attendees.
I’ve been tracking YourParadise for a couple of years now. I’ve been following what you guys are up to. Obviously, it seems like a no-brainer — this idea of running a festival in a tropic place. On the other hand, there seems to be this aspect of … I know Fiji. I know Fijian culture, and there are obviously negotiations that have to go on when you’re going to throw a festival there, there’s some backend work there.
So, I guess, let’s start with: What’s the genesis for throwing a massive party in Fiji?
The concept originally was the whole idea was exactly pretty much what you said there. On the left-hand side it was like throwing a party, tropical destination, on the beach, etc., tick, tick, tick. Right? From an experiential perspective, you’re ticking all those boxes.
Throwing a festival in a developing nation is where you start coming across some challenges. There was about a year’s work behind the scenes that involved going out on recon trips, meeting resort owners, and we had to put together a concept and an event that — first of all — was reflective, I guess, of what the music industry represents, which is great artists, great music, good vibe, friendly atmosphere, safe zones, everybody is equal. What I mean by “everybody is equal,” is that unlike a festival where you’ve got like a VIP area and a Triple A pass, that doesn’t exist at Your Paradise. Everyone stays in the same resort. Everyone eats in the same places, whether you’re a high profile artist, or whether you’re a young 18-year-old from Western Australia. You’re all pretty much in the same space.
So the idea was, how do we create this equilibrium between what Fiji … Sorry I’ll take a step back. How do we create equilibrium between respecting the Fijian culture and creating something which is going to stand out from the music industry, or I guess the music scene?
The recon visits were very important because we had the limitations in terms of, this is what you can do on Fijian land because we have to respect their land. They’re very spiritual people. We had to make sure that we had a no trace left policy, which also involves us making sure we have the right staff at the event. Not only focusing on an event’s management perspective but also focusing on respecting their land. I’m not sure you’ve seen some of the photos where it’s like crystal blue waters. So even things as little … People throwing cups into the water. It’s our responsibility to ensure that that doesn’t happen. If it does happen, that we’re cleaning that up. So that’s part one.