The techno playground that is Awakenings returned for another massive weekender that brought together a whopping 125 acts from around the world. Spread across 8 masterful stages the whole park performs like one massive techno machine churning out the beats and cycling the people around as fast as they can fist pump to their next favorite DJ.
This year we were blessed with perfect summer weather, which also meant the clothes got tinier and the sweat heavier. Thankfully in the Netherlands water is always free at festivals and there are always signs around to remind you to drink enough, but not too much water especially if you’re on ecstasy, and paramedics were always close by. With over 40,000 people attending each day of Awakenings you will see every kind of person you can imagine, from the barely legal to the infamous techno grandpa, everyone comes out for what is still the best techno festival in the world. Like animals and aliens all uniting for the first time, not bothered by the extreme differences each had, music was the focus at Awakenings. The only distraction aside from the massive swing ride or the occasional bum cheek was football displayed on the big screen, which for some was a techno red card but for others a very welcomed dancing break. It was France that won that day but actually, all nationalities were in the winning spirit, as we saw a group of proud Italians waving their flag for Joseph Capriati to see with the words “You are our drug Joseph” written across the flag. The Lebanese also threw their flag to their techno Queen Nicole Moudaber, which she caught as her final track was played. Another stand out moment was when a fan threw a toy stuffed monkey into the DJ booth while Pan-Pot was throwing down a high energy set, and Thomas danced with it before cueing up the next track. The fact that the outdoor main stages were lower this year allowed these funny interactions to happen. When the DJs are closer to the crowd it always translates into a better vibe. When you hear the DJs talk about their Awakenings experiences they have such fond memories of being around their friends, not just their fellow Djs but also the crew who have watched as their careers have developed over the years. A perfect example is Holland native Joris Voorn, who opened up to an empty dance floor back in 2003 but has since closed out fully packed main stages and even celebrated his 50 times playing at Awakenings at the festival this year. To his surprise they commemorated the special milestone with a beautiful cake. Creating that fun vibe both on and off the stage is so important, and we all felt it.
Awakenings is known for their diverse line up of acts from around the world who provide beats in every form you can imagine, some playing more on the house tipped or jazzy end, like the incredible live back to back session of Henrik Schwarz and Kink, to the heavy-hitting-no-messing-around-techno of Nina Kraviz that had the tent spilling out the sides it was so packed. Women were in abundance behind the decks this year which was great to see. The Netherlands own Charlotte de Witte packed a techno punch indoors while Amelia Lens, Nicole Moubader, Ida Engberg took over the main outdoor stages, not to mention the classic house inspired back to back of Peggy Gou and the legendary Miss Honey Dijon. It was proof that girl power is strong and the playing field is much more even these days.
You really do need two days of this festival to be able to see everyone on your wish list. If you miss an act on day one you can still catch them the next day or if you were so impressed you can watch them on both days. Such was the case for us with Maceo Plex, who is always at this finest at Awakenings whether at the Gashouder or at the festival. On Sunday we saw him again where he played the beautiful Desperados stage which he curated the line-up for his Mosaic brand. Other stand out sets included the papa of techno, Sven Vath, who was crowd-pleasing as always, a highlight being when he dropped Koze’s new ‘Pick Up’ to close out Saturday night as the fireworks launching into the dusky sky. It was the kind of moment when you look around and know life is beautiful! Sunday night we finished with Drumcode’s Adam Beyer who played some secret new bombs that left everyone as equally satisfied as mystified.
The dates are set for next year, so lock in June 29th & 30th into your techno calendar. In the meantime, you can be part of all the Awakenings fun during their ADE special events at their original home in the Gashouder. We can’t wait!
Photo credits: Photo-Company