In times so structured by the monotonous struggle of general adulting (long commutes, longer working hours, bills, etc. waa…) its easy for us twenty-something Brits to lose touch and forget there are actually places that still exist in this world that are complete and utter escapes from reality.
Dimensions, the acclaimed music festival, has been at the top of my list for five years now since its conception, mostly for its incredible line-up of trailblazing electronic artists, who play more or less without pause for five days straight, but also for its location inside an abandoned fort (!!) on Croatia’s Adriatic coast. Last month, myself, my fella, and my four best friends finally attended!
Photo: Dan Medhurst
For me, the idea of music festivals abroad has trumped British ones for years now, for two major reasons. Reason A: the weather, which is too unpredictable in the UK to chance a £200 festival ticket on. Glastonbury this year was a washout, with friends of mine who attended claiming they couldn’t sit down for the entire time, as the ground was covered in half an metre bog. No thanks, I’d rather enjoy my festivals mostly horizontal on dry ground, with a dose of mild sunstroke instead of a raging cold any day.
And reason B: The people. These days, any Tom, Dick or Gary can buy a ticket for their local weekender, don a trilby and some flouro shades, and descend on a largely dispassionate crowd of festival-goes for 8 hours of binge-drinking. I’m aware I sound elitist, but it’s nice to make the pilgrimage a little further afield, knowing you’ll be rubbing shoulders with a diverse, international crowd of genuinely passionate, friendly and (mostly) chilled out music-heads… in non-stop sunshine.
Dimensions is held in – arguably – the most beautiful festival location in the world. Its nine stages span throughout an abandoned 19th century fort on the outskirts of Pula, a port city in the north of Croatia. It’s a four-hour drive from Venice, the most popular port of arrival for most festival-goers. A few days of Prosecco and pasta in one of the world’s most magical cities before you head to the fort via coach transfer is just another huge perk of attending!
On the opening night we were treated to a high-energy concert from saxophonist Kamasi Washington (undoubtedly the surprise highlight) followed sets by Massive Attack and Moodymann, in a 2000-year old amphitheatre in the middle of Pula. Previous years have seen artists who I’d have much rather watched grace the stage, such as Caribou and Floating Points… plus, Massive Attack bafflingly didn’t play Teardrop (!!!?) but it was still a surreal and emotive evening non-the-less. Raving to Detroit’s finest on tiered amphitheatre stands overlooking a pulsating crowd below, in an area that at one point in history would have been used for gladiator matches, is one of the hundred magical things Europe can exclusively offer, and something I felt incredibly lucky to be a part of.
Each day was spent on Dimensions’ very own private strip of beach, napping off hangovers, peddling out to the Adriatic’s horizon on slide-equipped pedalos to the beat of the music, or bobbing around, pizza in hand to chilled out jazz, disco and afrobeat. Come 8pm, the likes of Hunee would soundtrack a blazing sunset, while we pulled ourselves out of our sun-slumps with pints of potent Long Island Ice Tea from the beach bar.
After sunset, we’d begin the walk uphill to the fort overlooking it all for the real party, which started around 11pm each night. Before reaching the fort’s walls, you’ll sashay across the expanse of The Clearing, where, under Friday night’s warm starry sky, Larry Heard played the most memorable set of the weekend. Hearing Can You Feel It live after years of screaming along to it on countless nights out was surreal, but it was The Sun Can’t Compare that became the unofficial tune of the holiday. ‘YOU AAAAARE, MY LIFE…’ reverberated around the fort, beach and camping village for the rest of the weekend – it was the last tune we hummed before bed, and the first one you stuck on in the morning whilst trying to pull yourself round just enough to slap more glitter on your face.
Past the Clearing and in the actual fort, things got seriously impressive. A view from the top of the edifice (where there’s a fancy cocktail bar serving good Amaretto Sours) lets you take in the views of the pulsating crowd below in the Stables. Around a few bends and down some steps, you’d find yourself (drawn time and time again) in Noah’s Ballroom, a circular hole which everyone danced at the bottom of, unable to keep their eyes from wandering to the tops of the trees which fringed the opening above.
In the Garden, the likes of Fleetwood Mac and Womak and Womak would sound out to a floaty crowd, whereas down in the fort’s long, deep Moat, Rodhad delivered one of our favourite sets of the weekend: heavy, dark yet captivatingly melodic techno. The Moat comes with a warning: take water and a loyal friend to hold on to. It’s pretty intense.
Dimensions wound down long past sunrise each day, and we’d wake up a few hours later only to be thrown at breakneck speed through the whole cycle again. It was punctuated on the Saturday lunchtime, by a boat party hosted by London record label Eglo. Alex Nut et al.’s mix of chilled out disco, hiphop and r’n’b (hats off to whoever thought R Kelly’s Happy People would be a good idea) kept the boat blissed-out for a ridiculously fast three hours.
Photo: Melbourne’s v. v. accomplished Duncographic
Honestly, Dimensions was one of the best weeks of our lifes, filled with non-stop tunes and the friendliest people. In fact, I’m off for a drink in Soho with Lucy, a new friend I made on the Eglo boat party when I finish this post!
TL;DR? But still intrigued? Here’s some of the best tunes from the weekend, which capture the spirit of Dimensions perfectly. I can’t wait to return next year for a whole playlist more. Until then, I’ll still be dancing…
Sunset on the beach with Hunnee:
Joe Clausell in the Stables, ft. a pink sunrise, manic head banging and that inflatable whale that seemed to get everywhere:
Unapologetically girly holiday vibes played by Moodymann in the Clearing:
Dimensions hires a whole troop of remarkable photographers who capture the spirit of the festival impeccably. See more here: https://www.facebook.com/DimensionsFestival
Or scope Resident Advisor’s promo on 2015’s festival here: