Hideout Festival
Croatia's week-long rave marathon returns...

Having camped on the beach in a cheap Tesco tent four years ago in the middle of an almighty storm and woke up to a sea of fellow campers’ laptops and passports floating, it’s safe to say my first experience of Hideout festival could have been better...

This year’s eighth edition, however, was memorable for all the right reasons; rather than dampening everyone’s spirits - and suitcases - bright blue skies and scorching temperatures made for an immediately improved atmosphere and energy. Bringing together varying tribes of dance music fans – from techno, house and disco to drum ‘n’ bass and grime – thousands filled the club stages and poolside venues dotted along Zrce, Croatia’s biggest party beach.

Surviving on a diet of jumbo cocktails, pizza and little else, 18-year-olds to twenty- something guys sported floral Primark shirts with flamingo-covered swim shorts and Givenchy sliders while girls made the most of the great weather with their pool-ready outfits…

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Having grown from a mainly house and techno event to now incorporating virtually every club sound there is, more than 150 of the biggest DJs and producers in dance music arrived in Croatia over the week. With the festival officially starting on Saturday evening thanks to a series of pre- parties along the Novalja party strip and running until the early hours of the following Friday a short shuttle bus ride away at the beach, Hideout is less of a holiday - more a week-long rave marathon.

Best treated as a marathon rather than a sprint, pool parties ensured each stage was full during the afternoon (Artwork and Horse Meat Disco brought feel-good disco classics while DJ Barely Legal’s combination of dubstep, grime and bass even encouraged one raver to faceplant the shallow Noa pool whilst still wearing his shoes) before the club stages lit up at night.

Each of the five venues felt like they had their own personality and aesthetic, too, with the types of music constantly changing from day to day. Kalypso, with its pool and Ibiza-like terrace, saw standout sets from Eats Everything and rising producer Mason Maynard.

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Euphoria’s open-air vibe was perfect for the chunky tech-house of Pro-Ject DJ’s Jay Newman and Huff, while Flava D’s garage and bass fared equally well, both attracting busy but contrasting audiences. Papaya remained one of the busiest spaces though; built to withstand the strong winds, the palm trees shook to the bass-heavy bangers of Australian surfer-turned- DJ-and-producer Fisher, whose tracks ‘I’m Losing It’ and ‘Ya Didn’t’ filled the dancefloor.

Jamie Jones, as he does every year at Hideout, wasn’t far behind, DJing to thousands with their phones in the air. Noa, a massive cabana-style club that made us feel as though we were partying on an exotic island, hosted some of the weekend’s hardest-hitting sets: Mall Grab opted for heavy techno, Alan Fitzpatrick’s ‘Turn Down The Lights’ became a major anthem and Dusky’s acid-tinged journey provided the perfect end to the final night.

Aquarius, meanwhile, was a haven for the drum ‘n’ bass and grime fans among the crowd: My Nu Leng took no prisoners, even inviting Skepsis to join them while MistaJam veered between Cardi B’s ‘Bodak Yellow’ and Gala’s classic ‘Freed From Desire’ during a packed hour full of bouncing energy...

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As if the action on land wasn’t enough to keep everyone more than occupied from midday to 6am the next morning, there were also no less than three boat parties per day. Being a massive Skream fan, we jumped at the chance to board his Open To Close party and the three hours that followed, full of disco, funk, house, techno and ghetto house, flew by far too quickly.

With his manager pouring Grey Goose vodka into ticket-holder’s mouths on the top deck, the energy was pretty loose from the off and, though it was sold out, there was still plenty of room to dance. It didn’t take long for t-shirts to be swung around in the air as he dropped Brame & Hamo’s euphoric ‘Roy Keane’. The last stretch back to the port was fun and unpredictable; even an organ rendition of Drake’s ‘Hotline Bling’ straight into the song of the summer, Krystal Klear’s ‘Neutron Dance’…

Weekday afternoons don’t get much better than sailing across the Adriatic Sea with the sun beaming down. Not content with embarking on just one sea rave, though, Clash’s own - with the legendary Kerri Chandler booked to headline - was an unforgettable experience for multiple reasons.

With William Djoko on warm-up duties, the expressive DJ, producer and dancer’s fusion of African and percussive house was a perfect introduction before a delayed Kerri arrived - via speedboat, naturally. He may have had just 45 minutes to play, but after precariously climbing onboard James-Bond-style, the New Jersey-born legend made his way to the top deck. Received like a real hero as he climbed the ladder - receiving pats on the back from elated fans on his way - he delighted the crowd with characteristically soulful piano- house anthems...

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Something that’s unique and to Hideout’s credit is that the range of artists booked played multiple times throughout the week, meaning the schedule clashes are always manageable; Spain’s Nicola Bear put in an impressive stint of seven sets, while Skream played at least four times.

Also, with so many massive names being in the same location at the same time, there were plenty of unexpected B2B2B sets; Mall Grab, Solardo, Camel Phat, Latmun and Eli Brown’s 5am team-up was one of the highlights of the weekend. It’s the unexpected, almost unbelievable moments like these – and watching a house music legend arrive via speedboat - that make Hideout stand out ahead of a packed crowd of summer festivals.

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Words: Ben Jolley

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