Tongberang’i Ngarrga’ meaning ‘Born to Dance’ in the Woi Wurrung language, is the name of the non-for-profit Aboriginal organisation set up by brothers Samuel and Seth Nolan (Gunditjmara), and Luke Isaacs (Noongar).
The organisation's purpose is to provide an outlet for Aboriginal people of all ages to connect with one another, while celebrating and expressing Aboriginal culture to the wider community through the medium of electronic dance music.
“From my experience, music has done a lot for me in terms of supporting my sense of well being and maybe it can do the same for others. It’s all about building self-esteem, confidence and community connectedness through music.” – Sam Nolan
Tonberang’i Ngarrga in its early days were engaged as consultants, supporting music festivals to incorporate cultural understanding and celebration into their festivities. From here, the organisation as grown into running its own community programs as well as events, namely its ‘Deadly Discos’ for children and young people, and the ‘Merri Creek Day Gathering’ that focuses on promoting reconciliation and cultural celebration through dance and electronic music.
Seth and Samuel Nolan, alongside Luke Isaacs, founded Tongberang’i Ngarrga, for the sole purpose of bringing the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal community together to celebrate and connect to culture, through the medium of electronic dance music.
The name itself ‘Tongberang’i Ngarrga’ (meaning Born To Dance in Woi Wurrung language) came through consultation with the Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for Languages (VACL).
“With Woi Wurrung being the language of the Wurundjeri people (the land on which we base our organisation), we spoke with the Wurundjeri Land Council about the use of those words. Everyone has a different view on the use of language and the process involved; our view was to approach the land council and essentially get sign-off on using their language.”
Festivities were kicked off with a Smoking Ceremony and a Welcome to Country by Aunty Joy Murphy, a respected Wurundjeri Elder and community leader.
Taungurung elder Uncle Larry Walsh, telling Dreaming stories between DJ sets at the 2019 Merri Creek Gathering.
What does the future hold for ‘Tongberang’i Ngarrga’? Moving forward, the focus will be to keep developing more events that engage with the wider community. This involves working with different Melbourne councils to run and facilitate other outdoor music events.
To include within their current program suite, they hope to soon develop programs that provide mentorship and training for young Aboriginal people wanting to create and produce their own electronic music and perform in front of large crowds.
“A lot of programs cast their nets quite wide in how they support young people in community; we’re working on bringing in programs that specifically support young people interested in music. Particularly for our young people who are caught in the out-of-home-care or justice systems; this interest in music may be the factor that keeps them out of the system.”
Whatever the future may hold for Tongberang’i Ngarrga, their aim of connecting to community continues to push them forward as a greater awareness about their work and events continues to grow.
Stay up to date with Tongberang’i Ngarrga Inc. on their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/aboriginaltechno