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Beachside hedonism H

ideout is a relatively new player in the Croatian festival scene, having doubled in size since its

2011 inception. Quite a feat, probably engineered by its immense line-up — one of the best of any Croatian festivals in 2012, and also one of the few purely dance-focused events. Whilst house music in all shapes and sizes may be the main player, there’s actually plenty for everyone to get stuck into, via a range of techno, bassline, dubstep, ragga, electronica and breaks, giving a nice sense of variety.

After landing in Split just two-and-a-half hours late, DJ Mag is itching to get its festival on, and after a transfer round some very windy roads to Zrce Beach, we arrive at the site, in full-swing. A quick glance at the line-up reveals that the Aquarius stage is the place to be for those craving some bass to kick off their festival. A tasty B2B set from Four Tet & Dan Snaith of Caribou wholly delivers, with the two veterans switching between melodic house, glittery electronica, stark, percussive techno, and various bassline and garage- peppered tracks towards the end of the set, reflecting the direction that both artists have favoured of late. Carrying on the UK bass theme is Ben UFO, playing jittery techno that melts into deep, soulful house, and eventually straight-up nostalgic soul. There’s also some glitchy two-step — layering the vocal from Basement Jaxx’s ‘Red Alert’ over the top — before abstract, tripped- out electronica. The guy gets better and better.

Time for a change of scenery at the vaguely tropical Kalypso stage, where


Soul Clap are doing their thing. Upon arriving at the dancefloor, a chap next to DJ Mag USA pulls out a bottle of what looks like poppers. It turns out to be a mini-deodorant can. He methodically sprays himself. In the middle of a crowded dancefloor. At an open-air festival stage. This is somehow more disturbing than anything he could have done with poppers. Keeping their well-groomed fans grooving, Soul Clap lay down a solid selection of techy disco and upbeat, crisp house — refined but subtly funky — a perfect soundtrack to the sun rising over Zrce in the background. “Sunrise sets are the best, especially in this kind of setting,” says Soul Clap’s Eli, speaking to us before he plays. “We’ve been trying to hone this kind of outdoor/terrace sound, with lots of floaty summertime jams. It’s cool because each summer we come back to Europe and we learn more, and our sound keeps changing and growing.” By the time things shut down at 6am, it’s already beginning to heat up, and the blinding daylight affords a good view of the partied-out masses (around 80% have come from the UK), many of whom are still sucking back Croatian lager and overpriced nitrous balloons.

After nowhere-near-enough sleep, it’s time for a pool party to rejuvenate the senses. The searing Croatian sun is roasting all and sundry, and Toddla T is rinsing out hard-hitting ragga and jungle above one pool, while Richy Ahmed and Cera Alba relay deep and funky house delights to other pool- goers at the Hot Creations party. Much fun is being had at both. Sticking with the watery theme, DJ Mag USA gets its sea legs ready and heads to

A few years ago, most people went to Croatia for a quiet, relaxing holiday. Thanks to Zrce Beach’s Hideout, that has dramatically changed...

nearby Novalja for one of Hideout’s many boat parties, this one hosted by the Dirtybird Records crew and headlined by label boss Claude VonStroke (Barclay Crenshaw), generously dishing out lashings of vodka to his shipmates. During a chat with Crenshaw, he explains that boat parties thrown by Red Melon Records, in his home city of San Francisco, were key in getting him into raving. But how do those compare to the current Croatian fun- vessel that Crenshaw is on, with several hundred party-ravenous Brits? “If you told me I had to go to Croatia in 100-degree weather and stand on a boat with my shirt off, in a crowd of 200 people… you’ve got to be a real partier for that! Britain is full of crazy partygoers — I don’t know how they do it,” he laughs.

But do it they do, losing it to Bristol’s Eats Everything, who works them through a superb set of slick, groove- ground house with a booty edge, the highlight of which is his own deep and deeper take on Cajmere’s much- reworked ‘Percolator’, with the equally deep blue of the Adriatic Sea engulfing the overboard view. Nice. VonStroke then plays the final stretch, starting with low-key house and teasing the crowd before cranking up the bpm and the bass. He then goes into slow- burning booty-bass, before chopping things up and supplying more than enough big drops and rhythm to keep the crowd grinning and moving.

After rinsing every last drop of fun from the boat party, it’s time to head back to dry land and the main festival site, where Jamie Jones is beginning his set

Eli Goldstein (Soul Clap)

at the Papaya stage with dark, bassy techno. He then indulges in trippy house, full of jarred percussion and off-kilter jazz bass, before easing into a punchier deep house groove. There’s a huge crowd out tonight for Jones, and they seem to dig the experimental tendencies. Still fuelled by the hectic madness of the crowd during a surprisingly enjoyable nostalgic trip to catch Andy C, the unabashed energy of young Blawan now seems mighty appealing. Favoring hard and heavy techno in a live setting — only a little headier than his brilliantly sludgy, acid-infused techno on record — he gets the Kalypso stage beautifully worked-up. “I don’t think a lot of people give the crowd enough credit for how pumping you can make it,” says Blawan (Jamie Roberts) after his set. “The crowd are a lot more open than you think. A lot of DJs would be scared to do that, because they think it’s too hard, but you’ve got to give people a chance to see how they react. People want some energy.” They certainly do, but having expended enough of it for one night, we hit the sack to save ourselves for the final day.

After a morning dip in the sea — and observing more than a few comatose


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