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Croatia: Going overground

Could the scene that kicked off a decade ago lose its soul?

  • Simon Doherty
  • 23 October 2015

A dishevelled Geordie, who looks like he's drunk his own body weight in beer, is standing at the front of the vehicle, mic in hand, alternating between telling the same joke over and over and just plain screaming. With the driver powerless to halt him, his nonsensical drivel continues until he halts himself –by falling into the aisle and proceeding to vomit and piss himself.

Next to me sits a guy who has lost his T-shirt and shoes, while a group of girls wonder aloud how the hell they've managed to forget where they live. But this is not the night bus in Glasgow, or the last flight back to the UK from Magaluf. No, this is an early evening shuttle bus to a festival in Croatia.

This summer, Dubrovnik Airport reported their sixth consecutive year of growth, with 1.6m passengers estimated to have passed through its gates. And while we can't attribute that solely to the country's festival boom, it has undoubtedly played its part. But as more and more festivals, promoters and clubbers arrive on the Adriatic, are the more established and commercial festivals being hijacked by the lager louts, lost on the way to Magaluf or Zante?

Once at the festival, the mix of people on the dancefloor is nothing short of spectacular. Packs of wide-eyed lads maraud around looking for their next extortionately priced hit, hard-faced pickpockets meander through the drunken, randy rave, scoping out their next victim – "I lost my purse, my phone and everything last night, I don't know what happened" is the most overused phrase of the festival.

Elsewhere, a slew of young, overbearing Cockney dealers, complete with mandatory Gucci manbags and painful sunburn, are spying their next sale. The girls, primed to perfection, attempt to add a much-needed touch of class to the scene. Anyone seeking a little respite on the beach has to be selective with where they sit due to the piss, empty bottles and takeaway wrappers.

The scene described here is not representative of every rave in the 'land of 1000 islands', but is it a worrying sign of things to come?

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