Scrap preconceptions around Club 18-30 lads in Shagaluf, where the British really leave their mark around the world — in a meaningful sense anyway — is while flooding the coastlines of Europe's festival paradise — Croatia.
But away from the likes of Outlook/Dimensions and Hideout (two of the Croatian islands' many big guns that attract thousands to the country each year), its clubbing fraternity enjoys its very own season, thanks especially to Papaya Beach Club, on Zrce, open for five months straight and offering clubbing action for locals all year long.
And that's where DJ Mag comes in. For a second year running, we've brought our four-day festival to the open-air club, offering a diverse range of music and fun for the emerging electronic music destination. Sun, sand, sea and parties all day and night — plus lashings of extravagant drinks and straight up party music — the kids of Croatia like to go nuts on a daily basis in an orgy of debauchery and high-octane music, like the rest of us.
Surrounded by beautiful settings and engulfed by lively crowds, Papaya has rightfully earned itself a reputation as one of the most unique locations available. And for our latest four-day extravaganza, we've got the decibels cranked to dangerous levels.
Set directly on the beach, Papaya is divided into two big sections (although actually big enough to hold a three-stage event). On one side, a part open-air, part-covered bar area with swimming pools, cocktail bars and dancing girls on platforms awaits.
Over on the other side, the club boasts an outdoor, mid-sized festival stage, equipped with lights, pyrotechnic shows and the full visual shebang that many ‘EDM’-loving clubbers have come to expect as part of their experience.
The first evening of the festival sees Manchester's crew Bitch bring home-grown progressive and hard house baron Eddie Halliwell, plying a deafening mix of slamming dancefloor grumblers, supported by current EDM heroes Max Vangeli and mini-Steve Angello, AN21, all of whom do a great job of punishing the fresh-faced crowds.
The daytime ravers are also very well-catered for. Timo Garcia — although out of his usual surroundings and comfort zone of deep house — brings in a slew of tearing electro and big room EDM, but with a slightly twitchy, techy edge, dropping a few surprises such as Azzido da Bass — 'Dooms Night (Timo Maas Remix)' and the Stanton Warriors breaks mix of Tensnake’s ‘Coma Cat’ for good measure. The crowd lap it all up.
Croatia loves a diverse line-up, and for the middle evening of the DJ Mag festival, Cadenza take over the main stage, where Reboot livens up the crowd with a mix of minimal and tech rollers, following on from a rather flat and uninspiring set from Mirko Loco. Alcohol flows, and boys and girls dance through the night.
Joachim Garraud feels right at home on the festival stage setting of the club on night three, with the French showman destroying ear drums left, right and centre with his keytar-driven, bass-rumbling mix. Proffering a live and energetic show featuring face-masks, props and more, his stadium gig has been squeezed into the confines of Papaya, and the place erupts time and time again, with each and every mid-range bassline and pummelling drop.
It’s clear from the energy levels that Croatians really know how to have fun — a world away from the sometimes moody clubbing experiences of some cities on the continent.
As the dust settles on another fine year for the Croatian festival calendar and Club Papaya, there’s one piece of advice left to give to the uninitiated in preparation for next year. The dress code is simple — wear as little as possible and make sure you’re donning your shades; it gets damn hot.