Location: Zrce Beach, Island of Pag, Croatia
Given its location — right on the seafront — Papaya’s famous swimming pools almost seem redundant. That is until you see them in the throws of the club’s so-called ‘after beach parties’ — famously debauched late-afternoon affairs that have well and truly promoted this Croatian mainstay into the global dance music Premier League.
First opened in 2002 as a sister venue to the club of the same name in the country’s capital, Zagreb, the Zrce Beach address has grown enormously between then and now. The venue’s shell-like main stage, complete with powerful LED array, provides an instantly recognisable backdrop to the wider scene: thousands of revellers marauding around a site that comes complete with multiple levels and hidden corners, not to mention towering palms, its own shoreline, and, last year at least, jungle-themed decorations. Needless to say, the open-air setting is fundamental to the club’s entire personality, and atmosphere.
When the offering is this good the pull is always going to be huge, and Papaya is no exception to that rule. A 24-7 operation during the summer season, when its Croatian homeland becomes one of Europe’s go-to destinations for those in search of sun, sea, and serious tunes, between May and September the venue provides a base for more than ten festivals, including Hideout, Sonus, Fresh Island, Barrakud and Black Sheep, to namecheck just a few of the annual highlights.
All of which means visiting talent comes in the form of huge names from across the electronic spectrum and beyond, with variety one of the defining features in the line-ups. Paul Kalkbrenner, Major Lazer, Sean Paul, Marco Carola, Jamie Jones, Solomun, Don Diablo, Timmy Trumpet, W&W, and Lost Frequencies stopped by during 2017, representing the gamut from EDM to low-slung house and techno.