Techno, Boat Parties And Antipsychotics At Dimensions Festival, Croatia

Despite some growing pains, Dimensions 2013 was an absolute banger, from Hypercolour to Dixon via Andres.
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Despite some growing pains, Dimensions 2013 was an absolute banger, from Hypercolour to Dixon via Andres.

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My Dimensions started off, in characteristically shambolic form, with an anti-psychotic prescription pill. Top tip: don’t accept unpackaged ‘sleeping pills’ on night buses from strangers. Finding out I belatedly took an anti-psychotic after the fact makes the fog of the first day a lot more understandable, unsurprisingly. Despite this, Dimensions itself is a festival which you definitely don't need drugs to enjoy, although Scottish Andy (purveyor of overpriced party supplies) still managed to make a killing.

This kaleidoscope of drug taking did seem to take place in the face of some of the most intimidating security I've ever seen at a festival. At one point when I was listening to the (excellent) Locked Groove in the open-air Ballroom I looked up and saw a security guard crouching, paramilitary style, on a grassy verge behind a tree above the venue. It was pretty intense.

Dimensions is brought to us by the same guys who run Outlook, and shares the same incredible setting. Set in an abandoned fort by the sea in Pula, its location is pinch-yourself-gorgeous, and, despite only being in its second year, managed to assemble a line-up of some of the best names in house and techno. By day people would gawp at each other on the festival site beach, boys checking out girls, girls checking out boys, boys checking out the girls checking out the boys- you get what I mean. And then by night people would lose themselves across seven stages, emerging bug-eyed at dawn before coming back to start the whole routine again the next night.

Dimensions has a lot to be proud of. Firstly, the line-up was absolutely incredible. People do always whinge about scheduling line-ups, and having to pick between Klock and the end of Three Chairs on the last night was annoying, but hey- these things happen. In terms of sound and technical specs the only stage that wasn't up to scratch was the Dungeon- we literally walked in and straight out of there, with the stone walls causing it to basically turn into a massively over-heated echo chamber. Walking through the Moat, on the other hand, was awesome: the rows of speakers they had along the length of the crowd meant you could hear the music from pretty much every angle, and it sounded good.

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How would I describe the crowd? I'd let the cute Belgian teenager who tried to befriend me in a queue for the portaloos explain it: 'you're from London?!! But you're all from London!'Whilst we're on the subject of portaloos: what the fuck was with people having sex in portaloos? There were fields literally everywhere. Maybe I'm biased because of my PTSD (brought on by the harrowing experience of being locked in a portaloo at Reading Festival circa 2005), but I can't imagine anything less likely to get my groove on than an overflowing cesspit of shit.

Now for highlights. Andres played the sort of warm, sexy house that made you want to grab the person next to you and just fucking paw at them. Listening to him mix Nirvana was an unexpected joy on the first night. Dixon lent an otherworldly, almost ethereal quality to proceedings with his distinctly recognisable sound. Pure magic. The Hypercolour crew were on brilliant form; the moment they dropped Wu Tang Clan's 'Gravel Pit' on a sun-drenched boat at sunset on the third day was just unforgettable. The Hessleaudio boat, on the other hand, was a bit of a disappointment, which is a shame, because ordinarily I love Ben UFO, but the pitch-black boat and inadequate speakers meant that the whole set-up was just a bit 'meh'. Levon Vincent was worth the fuck-off massive queue to get in, whilst Daphni and Pariah put in solid sets at the often forgotten Clearing Stage, which was mid-way between the campsite and fort.

Organisationally however, Dimensions isn't yet up to par. There were no fucking signs anywhere along the main roads connecting the surrounding villages (where loads of festival goers were staying) and Stinjan, where the festival was being held. Another note on the boat parties: please can we have some bigger boats Dimensions? And if you're going to put on a night-time party, please can we have some sparkly lights so we’re not just dancing to Ben UFO in the dark? As countless people commented on the Hessleaudio boat, you couldn't actually fucking see anything. We could have been on any dancefloor at the festival.

The concert for me on the first night was a bit of a miss also. I appreciate what they were trying to do by having Bonobo play the amphitheatre – don’t get me wrong, the setting was spectacular- but it felt a bit like going to a concert with your parents or something. Especially when they’re playing what one person termed ‘music for pregnant women’.

For me though, what Dimensions did best was techno. Dense and Pika absolutely thundered through a rollicking hour or so set with a relentless, driving, London sound - it was impossible not to want to crash to the front of the stage and pile straight in. And the absolute highlight, of course, was the back-to-back closing sets of Steffi and Ben Klock on the last night. After four days of fuck-all sleep, shit food, mosquito bites and angry Croatian landladies to deal with, all the fatigue melted away as this Berghain power-duo delivered four hours of subtly mixed and occasionally unexpected German techno.

And as big, fat Croatian raindrops fell and the heavens opened up above the crowd watching Klock on the last night, I reflected on what a fucking awesome festival Dimensions had been. And then I donned my improvised raincoat/pac-a-mac (thanks to the kind Croatian food vendor who'd cut a hole in a bin-liner and donated it to me), and, slipping and stumbling, waded to the front of a crowd in a fucking medieval moat and got stuck in. Cheers Dimensions. See you next year.