The Dekmantel crew knows how to throw a real good party, so when they announced that they'd be heading to Croatia for Dekmantel Selectors this year, we couldn't get on the Ryanair website and snap up a plane seat quick enough. Dekmantel in Amsterdam has been riding high as one of the world's finest house and techno festivals since it started in 2013, so we had bundles of trust that Selectors would deliver an experience to remember and leave us pining for a return in 2017.
You couldn't ask for more the location of The Garden, an intimate, wood-lined bay in the fishing town of Tisno. It's the home of other festivals such as Love International, Soundwave, Electric Elephant and SuncéBeat and anyone that's ever been to it has nothing but praise for what's surely one of the best festival locations in the world. Almost like a school trip activity centre in the way that there's so many hidden chill spots, an on-site restaurant and pool tables to play on, it's the kind of free roaming place that goes hand-in-hand with the festival's laidback vibe.
From midday to 6pm, only the Beach 1 stage, a concrete jetty kitted out with a Funktion One soundsystem, is open as punters - whether they be Dutch, British or Croatians in national football shirts - sup The Garden-brewed beers in the sun, relax in the calm, surrounding Adriatic sea or rid the previous nights hangover with bottles of Prosecco on the tree-covered rocks. Easier-on-the-ears disco, funk and Afrobeat tends to be the soundtrack for the sun-kissed day, but come nightfall, red lights reflect on the water and smoke creeps through the trees as the pace steps up a notch with the likes of The Black Madonna, Pender Street Steppers and plenty of Dutch DJs delivering stomping techno, groove-laced house and cosmic cuts. That's just a warm-up, though, as come 2am, open-air club Barbarella's, about a 20-minute taxi ride from site, takes things through 'til sunrise. If Ibiza's non-roofed venues don't cut it for you, we suggest you head here next summer for a night of raving under the stars.
At just 1500 capacity, you almost feel like you're back at school as you recognise so many faces at the festival. The tatt-covered fella you saw on the outbound flight from Stansted Airport keeps popping up at the bar and his mate catches our eye when she gets a wagging finger from security while standing on the edge of the balcony aboard the boat party. It's this intimacy and cosiness that makes it so on-point, though. Basically, there's no room to be a dick one night because people will recognise you the next and you'll be far from flavour of the month.
Despite an alcohol shortage at Barbarella's on Sunday night (whiskey and sprite isn't that bad, btw), everything is spot-on, from more or less every set we see being dazzling to the vibe of the festival being 10/10. We've already decided we're heading back next year and everyone we partied with said the same.
We've said it before and we'll say it again: the Dutch crew always get it so right. The fact they're doing it in Croatia makes it feel that little bit more special. As always, here's a bunch of tunes that stick in the mind and bring memories flooding back.
Dave Turner is Mixmag's Digital News Editor, follow him on Twitter
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