DJ Mag has done some pretty crazy things in its lifetime. Going on tour with Dave Clarke was one. An exhausting 24-hour round trip to Tokyo another. Not forgetting wild locations too. Ancient fortresses, an ex-Communist warship, ski slopes, a Russian gasometer... you name it, we've pretty much covered it.
Saying that, we're yet to stomp our sweaty little socks off while on safari. That would be really, really wild. And this weekend it's becoming a reality, thanks to the party animals behind Ibiza's world-famous Zoo Project, throwing its first-ever fully-fledged festival in a wild animal park. Michaela Strachan would be proud.
Okay, so we may not be riding a Jeep through the Sahara Desert or steering a Land Rover through the outback of Australia. We haven't even left the UK. Despite making its name on the White Isle at a faux zoo/daytime rave venue named Gala Night, Zoo Project's first-ever festival is taking to the grounds of Port Lympne Animal Park in Kent.
Hardly Tanzania, but far more convenient for the hordes of northern lads and Essex gals flocking to it on the island each summer. Providing the weather holds out (it is September, after all), there'll be little to keep the tomfoolery reaching the same levels of ridiculousness — only on a bigger scale.
To give the impression we are actually partying surrounded immediately by real animals, indigenous to places like Africa or Indonesia, is also slightly misleading. Thankfully, there is no danger of getting trounced by a tiger while wiggling to Julio Bashmore or strangled by a boa constrictor while bobbing to Blackhall & Bookless.
Instead, the main musical action takes place within three tents — programmed by the likes of Jaunt, Louche, Cocoon, Ostgut Ton, Secretsundaze, Kaluki — located on green land outside the animal park amid a scattering of fairground rides and stalls.
The only chance of encountering an animalistic being on the dancefloor is in a metaphorical sense, and even these specimens — dressed like Tarzan after a trip to Topman — are a friendly, innocuous bunch.
Those who do want to venture into the outback (of Kent) can do on regular tours around the animal park for a fiver throughout the day. En route, all manner of exotic beasts can be seen cotching in the open English countryside; the sight of a pack of gazelles grazing before a combine harvester in the distance offering a juxtaposition few are likely to witness.
The absurdity of it no doubt heightened by the after effects (hair of the dog abiding) of last night's shenanigans which saw Julio Bashmore and Eats Everything completely dice over the DJ Mag main stage.
“Very rhino-heavy,” Chris Bookless of Geordie deep house duo Blackhall & Bookless tells Distract TV when asked about the safari. “Rhinos, rhinos, rhinos... rhinos.”
“Few giraffes,” adds Blackhall. “I'm more of a shark guy.”
Shark guy? “shark guy, aye (he laughs).”
You can't please everybody, and regardless of the action next to the chimpanzee enclosure (one tabloid calling into question the sense in allowing ravers and the public to mix so freely, something being addressed for next year) there is monkey business of a different kind taking place at the Cocoon Stage, where Dana Ruh is deploying her batch of stripped-back funky tech groovers to stir the Zoo faithful — an arrangement of leopard print and lycra (lads included) — into motion. Next, Dinky can't resist a spot of garage to take the UK crowd up a notch.
Meanwhile, a marvellous mammal, DJ Sneak, can be spotted doing his thing over at the main stage hosted by Sasha, who follows later with a trance set-piece that makes way for Scuba; part of a clever bit of programming to highlight the more “progressive” elements of the Hotflush boss' sound, typified by his delivery of 'Adrenalin' halfway through his set.
Not that it's a sound that can be pinned down, since departing from its dubstep origins into house, techno and, um, Madonna? Yep, his token closer 'Vogue' raising more than a smile from the congregation below. Going to show, at Zoo Project Festival, absolutely anything can happen. Until next year!
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