For the fifth time this year, annual boat-festival Rafta is going back to the Curonian Lagoon making all the organisers and festivalgoers happy again. Attracting a lot of its audience through word of mouth and friends’ recommendations, the festival offers an indescribable experience of floating on water while listening to some of Lithuania’s best music.
It all started when in 2012 a group of friends swam into the middle of the lagoon with a stage hand-made out of rubbish and discovered the special feeling of listening to music on water. Luckily, the tradition lasted. Before the festival takes place this weekend, Music Export Fund asked one of its main organisers, Algirdas Sabaliauskas, some questions about that special experience, the event’s technicalities and more.
MXF: How does Rafta stand out among other festivals?
Algirdas Sabaliauskas: The fact that the event takes place in the middle of the former Prussian sea creates a lot of strong emotions. However, the music is the main element that makes the special Rafta experience. I find it curious how technically, the listener is listening to the music waves while being on another kind of wave – the water wave. This sensation is very hard to describe but I can say that in every visitor’s mind interesting chemical reactions are taking place at the time!
To compare Rafta to other music festivals would be unfair. It’s an experience that happens once a year when nature creates the circumstances.
We don’t know any other event like this but it looks like the time has come for them to start appearing in other countries as well. We see rafting-up events appearing in the southern countries of the US such as Lake Cumberland Raft Up, while Latvians are also taking a small step with a performance into a lake with Ezera Skaņas.
There are so many advantages to be in a festival on water! Double the amount of sunlight from water reflections; cooling down on a hot day; being able to float away from stage if you want some privacy with family or friends; pure music flowing directly without encountering any obstacles only the water waves; Perhaps the purest music you could ever hear!
MXF: How is the Lagoon special to you?
Algirdas: Me and the whole team are huge Curonian Lagoon fans. We have even walked across it from Juodkrantė to Svencelė once.
It’s one of the most unique bodies of water, firstly because of the depth changes. In the middle of the Lagoon, there are places where water’s only up to your knees while right near the shore it can be very deep. Secondly, it’s a wavy water pool with a very short wave which means the lagoon has a very fast rhythm. Unlike for example the Pacific Ocean where intervals between waves are long and the waves are big, drifting and floating is totally different – faster and more fun.
MXF: How do you pick the music?
Algirdas: It seems that the lagoon itself prompts us with its rigorous rhythm as to what music should play. We choose rhythmical music, more often electronic. Of course, we have some technical restrictions as well such as we can’t always fit a whole band onto a ship-stage.
MXF: What have you heard about Rafta from the musicians?
Algirdas: We don’t know a single musician or visitor to whom Rafta wouldn’t have created a special feeling. Of course, some musicians get confused when they see they’ll be performing for boats that are floating a few hundred meters away from them or when they find out that they will have to wade a few hundred meters with instruments in order to reach the boat which will take them to the stage-ship.
MXF: How do you guarantee safety?
Algirdas: According to safe navigation laws, safety is ensured by each water-vehicle’s captain. Unlike in the classic festivals, we have a person to ensure safety in every ship for every ten people!
Rafta may not be easy to describe but you can experience it on the 6th of August and find out what it‘s like to enjoy music on water!