This week, our resident dance music blogger, Kate Hutchinson, casts her eye over the alternative to the Ibiza scene this summer and advises that Croatia is the place to be... here are Kate's first two recommendations, plus her track of the week.
For a time, it felt like Ibiza had lost it way. Clubbing there was too expensive, too commercial and the growing restrictions on its after-party culture were dulling any authentic hedonism left. The island fought back last season, with more free and beach parties and smaller club nights adding variety, but it’s no longer the only scorching ticket for summertime shenanigans.
Make way, instead, for Croatia’s sparkling Adriatic coast. In the past two years it has exploded with boutique festivals comprised of hundreds of parties along its golden sands, stretching from its hedonist heart, Petrcane (pronounced "Petrcharner"), a small, 900-year-old fishing port near Zadar, winding around to Pula and over to Novalja.
Value for money, of course, is a contributing factor to its burgeoning popularity. Tickets to the opening night at Space in Ibiza cost upwards of €55 (and that’s just one night), but for three times the price, you can get two whole weeks of festival escapades in Croatia.
The key to the Croatian coast’s spiritual magic, however, is not only its stunning setting and the great musicians attracted there, but the rave boats that set sail during each festival. They are helmed by some of the world’s best DJ captains, and have become that of legend.
Which is why, this year, more festivals are lining up along Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast than ever. It’s as if the Big Chill Festival has erupted and spread itself across an entire summer there.
Here’s part one of our guide to the best of Croatia’s dance festival calendar.
Zrce Beach, Novalja, Island of Pag
New for 2011, this three-day mash-up really is the closest you’ll get to Manchester’s Warehouse Project in Croatia’s popular party resort, Novalja (which is just as well, as they are one of the camps putting this festival on). The eye-popping line-up features the cream of superstar house, techno, electro and bass DJs, with names like Cocoon head honcho Sven Väth, Radio 1’s Annie Mac, DJ sets from Chase & Status and Pendulum, 2ManyDJs, Crookers, Fake Blood, Erol Alkan, electro-house titan Eric Prydz, the Crosstown Rebels crew and so many more filling three stages. How they’ll fit all those egos onto one beach, we don’t know, but we do know that it’ll sound far better than Ibiza Rocks ever did on the White Isle. The festival also, weirdly, recommends the number of extreme sports to take part in– although we don’t recommend you participate while still squiffy. Tickets range from £89 to £139 VIP packages, while the boat parties, hosted by the likes of Deconstruction Records and Digital Soundboy, are £20-£30. Accommodation-wise, sharing an apartment with friends is the best option, with rooms starting at around £20pp per night. For full information, visit www.hideoutfestival.com.
The Garden Festival
The Garden, Petrcane
The Garden Festival was Croatia’s first festival to introduce the world to the partying possibilities here since 2005. It’s largely down to The Garden’s site, which is also used by Electric Elephant and Soundwave, which, as they put it, is “a fabulous ’70s designed complex, set on a pine tree covered peninsula with a circular nightclub, large outdoor terrace and a circular beachfront cocktail bar.” These days, nearly 3000 people flock each year for the festival’s scintillating variety of electronic artists over five stages and areas. Some of this year’s hottest house DJs are jetting in, including Art Department, our nu-disco favourite Tensnake, Wolf + Lamb and Soul Clap, while there’s plenty of the UK house old guard representing – the Faith crew, Norman Jay, Greg Wilson – so expect a fair few disco anoraks too. Get onboard one of the festival’s boat parties, if you can. The Wolf + Lamb at Sea, The Futuredisco Dingy, HMS Good Times journeys and many more have already sold out, but there are a few £12.50 tickets left to the excellent Sofrito Soundsystem and Concorde Club v Burek Boat if you book in time. Festival tickets are £90 – it costs extra for the boat parties – or it’s £140 for a ticket to The Garden Festival and Electric Elephant the following week. For full information, visit www.thegardenfestival.eu.
Check back in at redbull.co.uk tomorrow for Kate's second selection of unmissable Croatian hotspots.
Track of the week
Alpines – Drive (Skream’s I Ain’t Got a License remix)
Oddly, we first saw this south London duo at a Rankin party for London Fashion Week party last September. They didn’t announce their names, only mumbled their way through a couple of their ethereal, ever so slightly doomy synth-pop songs and shuffled off the makeshift stage. Nonetheless, frontwoman Catherine’s memorable feathery headpieces made their mark and lo, here they are being give the clubby treatment by rent-a-remixer and dubstep wunderkind Skream. After a dodgy clatter-heavy intro, the gear shifts for a speedy ride through ’90s breaks, the electro motor whirring underneath. We likey likey.
- Read more music articles at redbull.co.uk
- Read previous Blog on the Dancefloor entries
- Follow Kate on Twitter: @katehutchinson