We go to a lot of festivals. A lot of them are incredible, a lot of them are OK and some of them are just plain shit. The real trick to winning the summer circuit is attending a festival that blows you away every single time. Dekmantel, now in its fourth year, is just that. Essentially a day festival spread over three days, the Amsterdam event has come to be known for its consistency. Dekmantel's label, parties, artists and releases are of an astonishingly high standard but the festival set at Amsterdamse Bos, a picturesque park located around 20 minutes out of the centre, is now the jewel of the club brand's sparkling crown.
It was our third time attending the festival and although it's easy to band around words like "magical" and "perfect", Dekmantel was pretty much magical and perfect. And it's the little details that make it stand out. You're not seeing the likes of Ricardo, Nina, Mills and Hood in a four-walled club and you're not seeing them in your bog-standard festival tent, either. At Dekmantel, you're watching them in woods that pixies might frequent, or in the Greenhouse, with an interior that looks like the middle of a rainforest, or on a Main Stage that is one of the most unique in the world. Even the only tent on site, the aptly-named UFO, looks like something out of Battlestar Galactica once you walk in.
Too often festivals will book incredible line-ups, then ruin them by reducing artists to measly one-hour sets on weak systems, curtailing the potential of the talent on show. Take the Selectors stage for instance, Dekmantel’s showcase of DJs with record bags deeper than the Pacific. Every DJ is given the time needed to explore these in detail and craft mind-blowing musical voyages. Saturday alone saw a triumphant five hour workout from Beautiful Swimmers and Pender Street Steppers, and stunning performances from Lena Wilikens and Donato Dozzy. Everyone brings their A-game (even the barstaff across the site, who are some of the smiliest characters around).
This year the audience was distinctly more British than years gone by. But you know what? Who can blame the UK crowd. Day festivals in London look like child's play in comparison. London day events are double the size, double the capacity and double the amount of stages, yet Dekmantel trumps them in every department. Quality not quantity has never been truer.
Not much has changed at Dekmantel over the years and that's exactly why we love it. It gets so much right and it all seems so seamless. It's glaringly obvious that everything Dekmantel does, is done with love, integrity and care and that's why it's attracting more a of an international audience than ever before.
Mykki Blanco: "The idea that there is "one singular transgender narrative" is not true for everyone"
Activist and artist Mykki Blanco explains why his chosen pronoun matters
Spotify Playlist: Dark underground cuts for those extra hard workouts
No pain, no gain