I’m pondering the spectacle that was Dimensions 2015. Remnants of the imported pebbled beach sit next to my worn and torn rave wear. My ears slowly say “zbogom” to the insistent hum that bangs the drum of my ear.
My journey to the Fort Punta Christa in Croatia begins at Victoria Coach Station. It’s humid, the moodis anxious – a combination I could do without as I embark on the thirty-six hour journey to the Adriatic Coast through five diferent countries.
An exasperated “What the fuck am I supposed to do if this shitting coach doesn’t have any fucking plugs” comes from a couple of seats back. I turn around to a Burberry-esq bucket hat wearing bearded gentleman who I introduce myself to. “On your way to Dimensions?” a question met with a knowing smile. His name is Murphy and he was volunteering at Dimensions for a third year running. We discuss our expectations and visions of what’s to come over a cola bier when we stop off in a sunny Frankfurt. He’s the first of many new people I will meet and spend these few blissful days with.
The sun comes up over the rugged hillside. We move through paths over a misty void as we come to the Adriatic coastline on Sunday, three days prior to the opening concert. After a short bus ride we arrive at the uninhabited campsite – a long crystal clean beach and a fort that is getting re-decorated from a committed build crew. Arriving early allowed me to get my bearings of the place, but also to uncover a space to pitch a camp that would hold up in the 7 till 7, all day thirty degree heat. Shade was becoming a top priority for any new campers who touched down in the subsequent days. Hammocks, stone sculptures and mobiles were created; making the most of any natural bits and bobs around the site and giving it a homely atmosphere. People leaving their touch, creating a temporary space that felt like home.
I pitched up near to the ‘Extreme Water Sports Centre’. Logistically it was perfect; morning shade, close to the beach, away from the hustle and bustle. Coming into its own in the early evening as the sun set behind the islands across the multifaceted colours of a cosmic water revealing a sky of outstanding beauty. Over the course of the festival it would become a sacred place full of memories and education.
The evenings before the festival were spent on the beach at ‘Pacino’s Beach Bar’, a small saloon with a sound system. The trio, House of Wax stepped up to the open decks in the first two days bringing some pre-festival sounds. The dance floor sits surrounded by trees under a canopy of multi-coloured umbrellas. People line the sides with their litre jugs of generously alcoholic cocktails, talking and meeting with new people.
I’m too excited to talk, spending my evenings getting overly out of breath, quickly realising it would have been wise to pack more t-shirts. I was that sweaty guy totally caught under the spell that you’d keep your distance from and leave them their space (apologies to anyone who came in contact with my flailing arms or lanky legs).
There was one that did speak my language of few words (and not the Croatian that many thought I could speak). Her name was Imke, she wore blue and bounced to and fro; I knew instantly that I must groove with this bundle of boogie for the duration of the festival and beyond. The ravers were out in full force over the week. Costumes, lights, glitter, face paints and most importantly big smiles and big moves. Even from these early nights, people were aware of the fleeting moments of the present and didn’t look into an unknown future.
As the punters arrived at the site on Tuesday to collect wristbands, long lines met them. One volunteer who would become part of my rave family was Ian, a blonde babe from Coventry, who I first saw grooving at the beach to a beautiful seaside set by Lexis. Leading smoothly into Wyles & Simpson, a two-piece whose hypnotizing vocals accompanied the light and dark tones of a lucid synth backing. The beach stage began at twelve and continued on till eight, with expertly crafted performances from the likes of Mo Kolours, Romare, BADBADNOTGOOD playing a ridiculous rendition of Flying Lotus’ Putty Boy Strut. Afriquoi bringing the beach stage to a close with their energetic Ningde Jubeh.
There was an incredible array of musicians that we could pick from daily. You really can’t fault the diverse selection that was on offer there was something for everyone. As with any well curated festival line up there was almost too much to see – there’s certainly many I would have like to have caught but just didn’t have the awareness of time. This range of music meant that there were a healthy variety of people, from across Europe and beyond, who were equally ready to be exposed to new music and share in all its glory.
Floating Points, Four Tet and Little Dragon in a 2,000-year-old Roman Amphitheatre. Enough said. What a way to kick start proceedings. After a half hour journey to Pula’s centre, on board the inexpensive boat taxi as the sun set, we are off-loaded and let loose towards the arena. Floating Points begins as I walk up the outsized Amphitheatre steps and into the stalls, about fifty meters back. He sits behind his keyboard, left of stage, joined by a dozen or so musicians who will help him method a very special live performance, bringing new and old. It’s one thing listening to ‘ARP3’ on a stuffy coach through a scenic Germany countryside but it when the sound drifts effortlessly from seamless speakers into the pits of your stomach; you know your witnessing something of a marvel. It was mesmerizing. The crowd was caught in two minds about Little Dragon.
For many it was time to get a drink, sit down at the sides and update their feeds. For others (like me) it couldn’t have been a more joyous and nostalgic occasion. Yukimi floated around the stage in fluorescent yellow Nikes with an absolute sass to her performance, with the dudes behind not missing a beat. Finally the mystical Four Tet, standing alone upon the grand stage. Taking us on a Journey through musical hyperspace and parting with a modest wave, leaving us all stunned. To party in a space like that was a true privilege.
Up the dirt road track, past the very respectful people at the Welfare tent, you reach the ‘Clearing’ – a pyramid like structure that you can sit back and enjoy the people either retreating from their night or just getting it started. Of course there were dozens of incredible acts playing. I caught Four Tet moving the people with some roots Reggae, a refresh from all the contemporary electronic music I was about to be exposed to. There was also Underground Resistance, the musical collective from Detroit, who earlier in the evening gave a Q&A at the ‘Knowledge Tent’ – a space where all were welcome, but very few seemed to take notice of, to come learn and get inspired. This gave me a chance to understand first hand where their music comes from and what moves and motivates them. George Clinton had incredible presence, seeing each member bringing dumbfounding solos out upon the front speakers.
Moodymann plays next. Unfortunately his tribute to Dilla set was cancelled so catching him at the clearing was a must. I saw him in Iceland at Secret Solstice in June, which by the way is a groovy and very relaxed festival, but it was lacking the dark (quite literally, at 2am it felt like midday outside) energetic funkiness that he brought to his Dimensions set. Apart from Boddika blowing the speakers at the Moat, the systems at all stages was on point. “Up close it felt like you couldn’t tell you were outside” recounts a friend. “I thought the Void had the best system, had all the right parts of sound. Filtering into your soul, without leaving a ‘tssst’ to your ears.”
Moving past the Clearing you reached the ‘Garden’, a sloped area with a scattering of trees. I only stayed at the front for a little while as it became cramped with static bodies upon the strewn plastic cups and awkward rocks. Eliphino made sure that I didn’t go to bed early on the first night. Tronco Traxx’s ‘Walk For Me’ played and oh did we walk. Unfortunately I didn’t see him after the function to thank him for his set. The guys at 22A brought five hours of eclectic vibes, which were perfect to jump in and out of.
The only down side to dancing up the small incline was the sound spill coming from the ‘Arija’ stage. Only until the last night when MLM brought some garage zest would I dance in the dust. Unfortunately this is where I would lose my notebook from my baggy basketball short pockets. (If over Dimensions I gave you this book and asked for your details, apologies that I have not been in touch for it is somewhere unbeknown to me. #findtheravebook.)
Continuing on past the Garden you would first reach The Void, filled with cool jams every night and as per throughout this festival, a loving crowd. Saturday saw the Eglo guys bring an undisputable highlight for many. John Talabot rounding things up on the final night as the Monday sun rose, with Jean Claude Van Damm doing high kicks in the background. Past the Void was Mungo’s Arena, the smallest space but one with the biggest energy. The first night saw Mala and Loefah (playing a Jungle set) rewind many a hard tune and all the people inside the place have a jolly old skool skank.
On Saturday I would watch the sunset, and a full moon emerge over the NTS boat party. About three-dozen people joined us for this aquatic excursion, which saw non-stop sets from Kutmah, Shamos, Jon Rust & Charlie Bones (B2B) and Moxie. This wasn’t like other boat parties, the Dollop one for instance, where it seemed like there was nowhere to move, let alone dance. I spoke to one steward who told me how pleased she was to be on this boat party. “I looked over the side and saw a row of dicks all pissing. This one is very respectful”. A humble party it was, we even congaed.
I spent very little time in Noah’s Ballroom because of the one in one out policy and I wasn’t in the mood to be waiting. This was the most intimate and well crafted of the spaces, with its trippy projections and enclosed area showcasing some of the local Croatian talent. I would have the highlight rave of my festival in the Moat, a tall space about hundred meters long with high illuminated walls on either flank.
The ravers were out in full force for the Ben Klock showcase. I’ve wanted to see him for a while now and after missing Hessle Audio I was very thankful that he was there to fulfil my techno cravings. I felt like the Techno Viking stomping and receiving water in amongst a hoard of PLUR pioneers. Who said the rave was dead?
When I think back at Dimensions festival I think of the colour Blue. Not because of the crystal blue ripples of the water or the clear expanse of the sky and not because that was Imke’s Colour. But because of the recurring motif that was the dazzling blue beams that appeared at all of the most precious moments. Fading into an unfamiliar blue mood as Outlook begun and an influx of unconnected fresh faces replaced my temporary family.
Shout out to everyone who made this marvellous music fiesta happen; The organisers, the staff, the volunteers, the cleaners, the cooks, the local folks, the ravers and of course the DJ’s and bands who collectively created a five day dimension which oozed with raw energy and supreme quality music from the onset right through to the final day.
I feel very fortunate to have been there with you.