For its’ sixth edition Dimensions offered special lineup including Marcel Dettmann, Nina Kraviz and Ben UFO. Hannah Brierley was there to experience the craziness of the Pula event.
Dimensions Festival is an experience unlike any other. If you know people who’ve previously attended the festival you’ll be familiar with the obsessive hysteria with which they describe the event. Now, having attended it for ourselves, the hype has undoubtedly been confirmed. To summaries, Dimensions is a little slice of paradise in Pula, Croatia. A city that has a wealth of history to share with those lucky enough to make the trip, which is another bonus for festival attendees and we’d recommend having a day either before or after the festival to really explore. It has a simplistic elegance, and with its ancient architecture and enviable climate, it’s quickly become an increasingly popular tourist destination.
The typical components of a British festival are nowhere to be seen when you enter the festival site; no extensive muddy fields that swarms of arriving attendees have to trek through to find their perfect pitch. Instead there is plenty of room for campers to set up along the beach, shaded amongst the trees. Or, for a reasonable price, choose to stay in some of the other accommodation on offer within the campsite including hostel rooms which is what we opted for. They were a comfortable alternative and meant you got to experience camp site life with the bonus of a bed and a private bathroom. Instead of a traditional festival site with various tents dotted around where the acts would play, the site was spread out across the beach, up into the hills and the trees.
One such stage was the beach party venue which looked as though it had been stolen straight out of Ibiza. It faced the festivals’ own private strip of beach with pearly pebbles and the glittering Adriatic Sea. This was the only stage open on the Tuesday, and the jazzy rhythms were the perfect accompaniment to the sunbathing groups languidly strewn across the beach, conserving their energy for the endless nights of partying that lay ahead.
Wednesday night brought with it the buzz of the opening ceremony; those with tickets got a boat taxi across to Pula. Their breath-taking 2000 year old amphitheatre was the setting for this incredible party which hosted an array of talented acts including the infamous diva Grace Jones and trippy electronic trio Moderat as a celebration of the festival commencing. Musical icon Grace Jones kept the crowd waiting but made up for it with her incredibly theatrical performance that included an array of outfit changes, multiple oversized head pieces and a mostly naked male pole dancer with enviable buttocks. Her brilliant tune ‘Slave to the Rhythm’ was met with deafening applause as the thousands in the amphitheatre expressed their adoration for her unapologetic work. To be able to witness live music in the only remaining Roman amphitheatre to have all four sides was really unbeatable. Moderat really played to their environment as well, utilising an experimental light show along with their impressive live electronic sounds to build into a euphoric climax. It was the perfect way to start this undeniably special festival.
Over the next few days you began to settle into the festival lifestyle, and it was easy to see why, with their own shops, restaurants and bars scattered about on site. You could even get your haircut or have a massage. Everything you required for the week was provided, creating this lovely little community by the sea. The days were spent in the sun preparing for the long night ahead, with the main acts not starting until the early hours of the morning. The Thursday night boasted an incredible line up with Ben UFO, Helena Hauff, Horse Meat Disco and Joy Orbison all set to perform, providing both stripped down instrumental techno and groovy upbeat soulful tunes to cater to everyone’s tastes. The Mungo’s Arena was also open every night for those that were itching for a bit of thumping drum and bass or grime later on in the evening.
the sound system felt borderline illegal, causing your entire body to vibrate
Croatia has become quite famous for its links with popular TV show Game of Thrones and it was difficult not to make comparisons as the different arenas resembled castle ruins and ancient buildings like the Stables or the Moat. The latter was an submersive tunnel where the sound system felt borderline illegal, causing your entire body to vibrate. Ben UFO’s Thursday night set in here was one to remember. He even deviated from his signature minimal sounds, layering undulating beats to create a heavenly concoction of music that matched the enclosed space perfectly. Later on we took a breather from the dusty tunnel and ventured into the clearing where talented DJ Dam-Funk was blasting classics such as Luther Van Dross’s ‘Never Too Much’ as the crowds pranced around arms out-stretched. There’s nothing like a bit of disco at the end of a night to bring crowds together.
If you’re a fan of disco, and let’s be honest who doesn’t love to boogie to golden oldies every once in a while, then the Horse Meat Disco boat party the following day was the place to be. Sadly a storm had been brewing and even Croatia isn’t invincible when it comes to the wrath of bad weather. At one point it seemed as though the boat parties may have to be cancelled but people persevered, and stood defiant throwing rain macs over their swim suits and with glitter in their hair they were ready for a good time. Sure enough the clouds broke about half way through the journey, and the sun shone down on the dancing crowd as party scene guru’s Horse Meat Disco played obscure funky tunes like a joyous remix of the Fantastic Four’s ‘Got To Have Your Love’. As well as the crowd pleasing classics like a bouncy take on Dolly Parton’s ‘Jolene’ which had the whole boat gloriously shouting along to the lyrics.
Friday nights acts finally commenced after slight delays following the rain, within which time our hostel made its own entertainment demonstrating the prevailing positivity of festival goers. Marcel Dettmann played a trippy set in the Garden accompanied with a surreal lights show, the German DJ and Producer expertly demonstrated his capabilities as he worked one of the largest crowds seen at the festival. Mechanical noises merged to create funky techno drops that enticed his spectators for hours. Highlight of the night though, and arguably of the whole festival, came from Dan Shakes closing set in The Clearing. His immaculate mixture of powerful bass underlined with ridiculously groovy rhythms, jazzy trumpets and disco lyrics made for an exceptional combination and injected the crowd with so much energy they forgot it was nearly 5:30am. One stand out selection was Debbie Jacobs ‘Don’t You Want My Love’ , which blared out from the speakers begging to be danced to.
The rest of the weekend was much of the same impeccable standard, with the likes of Daphni, Nina Kraviz, Giles Peterson, Goldie and many more making their mark and keeping up the crazy party spirit despite the unpredictable weather. During the early hours of Sunday when the crowds slowly made their way back to the camp site for the last time the mood was slightly tarnished with disappointment that tomorrow wouldn’t bring the same weird and wonderful experiences as the past few days had done. We would undoubtedly miss living our life with the set times as our bible and not a care in the world. Dimensions is an adventure we will cherish and urge everyone to experience for themselves.
Words by Hannah Brierley on behalf of Dance Vici | Photography by Dan Medhurst