Want to know about bad happenings? Well, they took place in Romania mostly...visa problems first... bad train connections from Romania to Serbia which made us get by car to the border and then on foot (just 3 km) to the first Serbian village near Romanian border town Jimbolia. First impression on Serbia? Nice people, very friendly and always eager to help you if you're in trouble.
Tent installed. What next? The Danube... the bridge that will lead us to the fortress... About 15 minutes on foot and we enter for the first time in the fortress which is definitely enormous and splendid. Tunnels bridges arenas and people... so many people... We got lost almost every night trying to get to the DJ Arena where we spent most of our nights, though with such an incredible line-up on multiple arenas it was almost impossible to stay just in one place. Luckily for us the Main Stage was pretty close the DJ Arena so we could easily see some big names performing there also: on the first night "Underworld". Great performance just about to set us on fire for long parties which were kicked off by a massive fireworks showcase. We are checking the line-up on the small brochure from the festival and quickly we go to the DJ Arena where we have something to hold on: The Glimmers, 2 Many DJs, Felix the Housecat, Dave Clarke. Before we went to see Underworld, we firstly inspected the DJ Arena a bit, which was huge by the way, it could easily hold up to 30.000 people. We arrived just in time, around 9 pm, when The Dukes was warming up the crowd with some minimal tech-house beats. Right, so we need to test the (very cheap) beer. A good intention that the organizers had was not to sell alcoholic drinks and cigarettes either. That seems about right, we weren't bothered about the drinks, beer was what we needed. "Pivo, molim", which means "beer, please" were the too words most popular in the fortress. An hour later, The Glimmers made their appearance and they began playing some old funky rhythms that my mum may have been listening to in the 80's, no doubt they were big hits at that time. Lucky for us The Glimmers were throwing from time to time some modern dance music too, but they didn't combine it very well with the classics, unlike Mylo for example. Then we go to the other arena right next to the one we were in, called Happynovisad Arena (happy pappy arena – like the guys from General Midi named it). There we faced a turn-off, pumping techno was playing, not sure who was on decks, but they were really hit it off and the people was really into it. We stayed there about half an hour, bought ourselves some souvenirs and left to the Main Stage. Underworld was definitely the attraction of the night and the best performance, which was part of their European summer tour. Around 40.000 crazy party people were enjoying the spectacular show.
Later we find out that Dave Clarke unfortunately cancelled his appearance that night due to the bomb attack in London. We can't believe our ears when we hear about the terrible events in London... It feels strange knowing that in the same time when you dance and feel good innocent people die or cry for their dead loved ones. EXIT is the type of festival that tries to imprint a general positive atmosphere "Be positive", fight for love for music and for peace.
Being tired from the long trip we made that day, at 5 am in the morning we feel it's time to get some sleep....ok we go but ...where is the "exit" ? Try to ask that if you can't find your way out and certainly people will laugh at you... Eventually we managed to get out of the fortress trough a long tunnel and we made it to the camp. Here we will face another problem, looking 20 minutes for the tent, which was borrowed of course...
The day starts waiting on queue to brush our teeth and get a shower...The party is already started on the small Danube beach next to the camp but I suppose the coffee we were dreaming of was more important at that time. Tonight we have to be fresh for a huge party with Carl Cox and his mates. The second day was a bit unfortunate for us... We wanted to attend Carl Cox's press conference which we didn't know it'll take place on DJ Arena back stage so instead of staying there we went to the press center which was quite far away. Like a punch in the face we are informed that the press conference was in the place we initially left, the DJ Arena ... and you know what? We went back although we were late and like if anything was missing the storm started... a moment of panic for everybody, trying to hide somewhere (the lucky ones were in the tunnels) and we (the unlucky ones) stood under a tree with other 30 people holding a piece of plastic foil above our heads... At least it was good that the storm lasted only 30 minutes or less (I don't remember exactly but for me it seemed without ending as the water started to make way in the shoes, pants, t-shirt, even underwear...
You think the bad luck ends here? No way ...we go to the tent and change our super wet clothes and we return to the DJ Arena to see Carl Cox playing... Well we try to enter on the press entrance just like we did before and surprise security tells us that our press passes are no good we need to be VIP so we can enter. After sometime trying to talk them to let us in, we give up and fight the mud from the storm and go up on the hill right above the DJ Arena. The view we got from there was pretty impressive, as we were able to see the enormous dance ground packed up till the last square meter. It was a fantastic sight, seeing all the people there screaming and throwing hands up, throughout Carl's amazing techno sound, live PA's, lightning effects and so on... Truly memorable! 35.000 people dancing in the mud!
We would call day 3 the cherry on the cake (in a good way), maybe the best day of all for us. We arrived at the DJ Arena around 10:45 right in the middle of Evil's 9 outstanding performance and 10 minutes later we met Dian, a really nice guy who was part of the press staff at Exit. He walked us in to the backstage and introduces us to the guys from Infusion in order to ask them a few questions for an interview. They told us how the airline company lost their equipment so they were unable to play and advised us "never fly with Australian airlines". So although their performance at Exit was at that point impossible to take place, they didn't seem to bothered, quite the contrary they were still making jokes and after they finished all the interviews they were just hanging out on the stage with the guys from Evil 9 and communicating with the boiling crowd. We missed Fatboy Slim's act because half an hour later there was another interviewed lined-up, this time with Danny Howells. Some of our friends told us the next day though we haven't missed that much at all, Fatboy Slim's performance being quite poor by their saying. Whatever. This time Nikki from IMD introduced us to Danny Howells and led the field into the dark room at the back of the backstage where the interview took place.
Then a bit later he started his set and condensed his usual six hours or more from a usual night in a club, which he admits to prefer, into a blasting two hours of electro-house beats. It has been said that no other DJ can communicate better with the crowd then Danny Howells. Entirely true, the arena was filled around to 90 percent of its capacity and everyone was assimilating Mr. Howells' eclectic sounds. Around 3 am, just like it was on the EXIT mini brochure, Sasha installed himself on the decks (well, mostly on his laptop) and his now typical, now renowned intro made his emergence. Someone said that evening Sasha's music is "too cheesy"; at that moment I haven't too many arguments to disagree, but the music that he played that night was quite far from being cheesy. It was constantly accelerating its rhythm maintaining trough the entire performance an alert sound manifested on the blistering crowd that was eating it up with a spoon. After concluding with the famous remix of "Watching Cars Go By" from his Involver album, Lee Burridge, the English man that made his brake while living in Hong Kong for six years, quickly made his appearance. Like always he managed to keep the spirit up with his alive temper playing fresh house music just before and after the sun was going up on the sky.
Around six am we left to the camp and ended another long night in the magnificent fortress, once again moving like robots through the mud from the rain. The vibe in the arena was still on though. We tried to get some sleep, but not much of a sleep it was with all the noise around the camp. So we were that tired that even the coffee didn't have too much of an effect on us. We went back to the fortress for the last time around 10 pm various causes, mostly related to tiredness and the 20 hours we would have to spend on lousy trains on the way back home, made us leave earlier that we wanted to. So the 4th day wasn't to interesting for us. It's always an unpleasant thing when you have to leave an event like this and go back home, realize that your life will go back to normal, you have to get back to your job, lousy exams, paying bills, fight city traffic etc. that you completely forgot about where you were away. All that till next year!
And this concludes our trip to Serbia. First time on EXIT festival and never again, till next year :)
The great thing about EXIT is that it has a foundation of historical reminiscences held by the old Petrovaradin Fortress. In the past it has defended the Europeans from the Turks invaders but now it serves like a true fortress of music and freedom in a country that it suffered a lot of political and ethnical difficulties in the past. More then 55,000 individuals came to EXIT from all over Europe to celebrate free will, positivity, exchange energy and party till the sun is up. A really well organized event that could compete to any festivals in the UK.
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July 22, 2005 at 1:36 AM CEST