Equinity, the South African horse racing, performance and party phenomenon, has shown the world how to race to a different beat.
For those not in the know, Equinity is an outlandish combination of performance, art, design and music that is built around horses and night-time racing. “Our dream for Equinity started in 2013 while we were working on a large-scale event at Turffontein Racecourse,” explains co-founder Angus Campbell. “We happened to be at the track one night and the energy under those massive spotlights was intense. The horses looked even more beautiful and powerful than usual,” he says.
What Campbell couldn’t believe was that there were only a handful of spectators on a course that could host thousands. “It was at that moment that we knew what we had to do. We saw it as this incredible opportunity to create something revolutionary and mind-blowing. That’s how Equinity was born.”
Campbell and the team threw themselves into planning, combining all of their passions into one epic production. “When we launched our first show in 2016, people didn’t quite know what had hit them,” he says. “We aren’t about any one thing – we love performance, art, design and music and with Equinity, we brought all of this together against the backdrop of a massive night-time horse race.”
For Campbell, who has worked in the racing industry for several years, one of the biggest frustrations is the racing community’s fear of change. “We’ve spoken to so many people over the years that are desperate to see crowds come back to racing, and to unearth a new generation of owners, breeders and trainers. They want results, but very few are prepared to actually change anything,” says Campbell. “Well that’s what we’re here to do.”
To this end, the Equinity team believe there are no sacred cows and they have made it their mission to reinvent every element of a traditional racing event, from how the races are filmed to how they are experienced live at the stadium. “We have four different crews filming live on the night and we display the action on huge screens,” says Campbell. “The way guests experience the race live at the track is now a whole different ball game. Before you saw the horse for a few seconds as they came past, now you are immersed in an IMAX-like experience from start to finish.”
Campbell believes this is one of the greatest innovations of Equinity. “Traditional race days in South Africa often seem to put racing last, but for us, everything is built around the horses.”
Equinity has found a loyal following over the past three years and looks set to continue its rapid growth with the third annual production on 27 October 2018. “In just three years we’ve gone from being the new kid on the block to the fastest-growing racing event in the country,” says Campbell.
Every year the team changes the theme, creating a completely new and immersive production. Equinity 2018 will celebrate the experiences of an elite secret society called La Calavera – "The Elegant Skull". The members of this select group, who have chosen to live outside the norms of society, follow their every wish and desire above all else, and pursue a hedonistic journey of instant gratification and intense pleasure. “Equinity embraces liberal ideas, new forms of expression, tolerance, freedom and diversity,” says Campbell. “It is designed as a platform for unusual artists and performers, and visitors can expect a cocktail of performance, art, design and music, with a slightly bizarre and very sexy, beautiful edge.”
The Equinity team works with performers, stylists and decor specialists for months before the event, and to bring to life their unconventional themes, they craft many of their own decor elements and outfits from scratch. They brief actors and performers on how to engage with their audiences, believing that every interaction is an opportunity to amaze or amuse.
“As the world interacts increasingly on a digital level we believe in creating epic face-to-face connections between people,” says Angus.
That’s not to say Equinity doesn’t embrace technology. While they create bigger sets, and include as many performers as possible, they look to include the best technology available. “We love the history and the traditions of racing, but we are determined to bring the sport into a new era,” says Campbell. “We are part of a new young racing audience and we want to do things our way, but we embrace the history of racing and we love working in massive old racing stadiums because they give us the scale we need to blow people’s minds.”
Equinity’s La Calavera hits Johannesburg on Saturday, 27 October. Tickets are available via Webtickets or through the Equinity website - www.equinity.co.za.
For group bookings, email az.oc.ytiniuqe@ofni or call 073 257 8178.