The community-led parade winds through the streets and features singers, dancers and bands
South Africa - The Brixton community, young and old, came together for the Brixton Light Festival parade hosted on 6 February 2022. Residents dressed up as Creatures of the Light, and the 232m-high Sentech Tower, commonly known as the Brixton Tower, was lit with Robe lighting fixtures and graced the Johannesburg skyline.
Named after the London suburb, the Johannesburg-based Brixton dates to 1902 and is located near the suburbs of Auckland Park and Melville. The light festival is a celebration held free of charge by Brixton residents for local residents. The community-led parade winds through the streets and is highlighted by singers, dancers, bands, mimes, art and photographic displays. The African Reclaimers Organisation (ARO) whose trollies are usually used to collect recyclables, pulled floats made from recycled materials by Shade. Tamzyn Botha from Shade, members of the Brixton Community Forum and David Gouldie from Urban Edge played a key role in orchestrating the event.
Resident Fried Wilsenach, a sound designer from The Working Dog who has been in the pro-audio industry since 2005, oversaw the technical requirements of the event, and lit the Brixton Tower, together with long-time colleague and lighting designer, Oliver Hauser.
They teamed up with DWR Distribution’s Duncan Riley who sponsored the use of a Robe Forte, Robe Esprite, 2 Tarrantulas and a MegaPointe. DWR also paid the wages for 17 technical crew, most of whom have had little work over the past two years during the Covid-19 pandemic. Gearhouse Splitbeam was on board as the technical supplier and provided various lighting fixtures scattered across the route also lighting up the local Joburg Water Tower.
In his garden, Fried and Oliver set to work, positioning the Robe fixtures on top of the garage’s concrete roof which is overlooked by the Brixton Tower. “We thought lifting the fixtures up the ladder to their projection positions was going to be a challenge, but the Forte was surprisingly light for its size,” said Oliver.
They wanted to create something unique for the Brixton Light Festival 2021, postponed from December 2021 to February 2022 due to Omicron and the fourth COVID-19 wave that hit SA. “Lighting the Sentech (Brixton) Tower, a focal point that could be seen from kilometres away, was the ideal opportunity to show off the festival which had never been done on this scale before,” said Fried.
Two Robe Tarrantulas were deployed to colour the tower’s globe and stem. “The ability to focus the wash light at a distance of 240 meters onto a surface measuring 232m high, was impressive,” he comments. “A MegaPointe was added to give an additional punch on the globe and top antenna, while an ESPRITE and FORTE fixture created texture on the column. We were astonished by the output and optics of all the fixtures.”
The biggest challenge was the weather. The event was again postponed, by a day, after a torrential storm, with up to 90mm of rain, took place on the Friday before show day. This meant that all parties involved had to shift their calendars at very short notice. The other concern related to power. “Because of budgetary constraints we couldn’t afford the luxury of distributed generator sets, and electricity to power all the fixtures along the route extended from residents' homes, a logistical task that left us at the mercy of domestic power infrastructure,” said Fried. “The loads were calculated and for the most part, LED lamps were deployed to avoid circuit overload. Thankfully the national power utility announced earlier in the week that load-shedding would be reduced to stage 1.”

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