By Raluca Mihaila
Waha’s Vast forest “Oasis” in Bățanii Mari, Covasna, offers a thoroughly chilled out music experience where festival-goers can commune with nature far removed from manic modern life.
Raluca Mihaila spoke with Waha’s creators: Monica Ivanov, Tudor Chiliman, Alexandru Hirjoghe, Mihai Mironenco.
Why is Waha festival different from any of the other festivals in Romania?
Waha’s main focus is on people’s experience on the site. We offer a variety of stages, activities and workshops in the midst of nature, surrounded by a huge forest, where people of all ages have a playground to fit their imagination. We don’t have any sponsors or advertisers at the site so that people can completely disconnect from the urban commercial craziness. We don’t have phone reception either, so everybody can have a deeper experience and properly focus on the now.
What inspired Waha?
Our inspiration came from other festivals that we attended before – Ozora, Burning Man or Boom – together with our wish to deliver the experience of an alternative lifestyle based on trust and sharing.
Who and what was your target, your aim, and what has actually happened?
What we wanted to create is what has actually happened: an open, life-changing experience where the wider potential of the present gets to be felt and played with by everyone attending Waha.
Electronic music has a special and personal meaning to each of its fans … and it’s also the main genre at Waha. What does this style of music mean to you guys?
The electronic music we play covers a wide range of styles, from ambient and experimental to world downtempo, techno and psytrance and these have a hypnotic element that accentuate the experience.
Does Waha mean anything else, other than joy / amazement? Is it like an acronym for something?
Waha came from Wahaha! and it’s meant to express indeed happiness, joy and enthusiasm, though in Arabic it means ‘oasis’ which we also find appealing.
Waha in figures.
We started with 900 people in 2012 and had almost 6,000 guests in 2018. We’ve grown a lot!
To what extent did the first Waha edition differ from the one in 2018?
The first edition was way smaller, for sure, the team was mostly made up of friends and artists, most of the people knew each other, there was lots of free space to get lost in at night, it was more intimate and romantic.
How do you choose the lineup for each Waha?
Each stage has a different person who’s in charge of the lineup, so we collaborate and come to a common vision. We try not to use the same artists as other similar festivals, we create a mixture of the bigger artists that we want to hear along with a good selection of younger acts, all pretty much from the underground scene worldwide. We are looking for good music rather than huge crowds coming for an ‘unbeatable’ lineup, so we have grown healthily and organically with a cool public.
How does absolute freedom, psychedelic states, and the lack of rules at Waha jive with the presence of families with children?
There’s many types of people on Wahaland, there’s a pretty big family area with the kids’ playground and parent campers far from the busy, loud side of the festival, and this is where most families spend their time. The location is so big that you can always find places to walk and have a totally different experience than the dance floor. Parents usually chill and enjoy being with their kids who mostly have a blast being so deep in nature.
If attendees are to take one thing from Waha what would that be?