dour festival last arena

My, oh my! This 27th edition of Dour festival was quite extreme: one does not simply improvise 5 days of partying (6 if you count the way back home, not the most glorious time). You gotta be rigorous (go to sleep at a decent hour), have discipline (don’t go all in on the first night) and keep your enthisiasm (but that’s the easy part).

I’ve handled things pretty well, while still enjoying every day to the fullest: I’ve seen almost all the artists I wanted to, met up with pretty much everyone I had planned to, slept between 6 and 8 hours per night (!!!) and even ate one or two decent meals. Still, 2 days after the end, I feel like shit: I gave it all, walked between 25 and 35 km and danced for about 10h every day. My voice is gone, my wallet is empty, but my heart and my head are filled with memories…

dour festival camping

So here are a few of these moments and facts that I’ll remember from this year’s edition:

  • This year particularly, I realized how strong and big the community is: from the beginning to the end, we felt this special tie that we all share and that makes Dour so special, like never before. Maybe even more because the organizers decided to use our war cry DOUREUUUH on the festival bracelets, and as the name of the festival’s newspaper? ;)

Photo instagram @dourfestival

Photo/ instagram @dourfestival

  • Musically, this was certainly one of my best editions: mainly because my military discipline kept me walking around on the site from 1pm to 4am everyday, checking out stuff here and there, but also because I’ve witnessed a lot of good shows. Some of them, I was expecting: Hudson Mohawke, who was replacing Pusha T on Sunday, and literally turned up the Boombox with a set mixing Lantern (his latest album, which you should really listen to!) with some happy hardcore and jumpstyle beats. I didn’t take any photos or videos, I was wayyy too busy jumping around! Kaaris, whose audience sang along for pretty much all the tracks, delivered one of the best performances of the week-end. The seven (if I counted right) members of Jungle, who gloriously opened the festival on Wednesday evening. Snakehips, that I had to go see alone because nobody wanted to come with me (full disclosure, I didn’t even mind)! But also Siriusmodeselektor (even though “it was better at Sonar”), Danny Brown, C2C, Julio Bashmore, Floating Points, JME (who was replacing his less talented but more famous brother Skepta), Débruit

I made some surprising discoveries, like Clap! Clap!, who was playing late on the last day of the festival and that was one of my favorites this year – I’m so glad I stayed until the end!

Of course, some acts disappointed me: Snoop Dogg, who thought 40 minutes were enough for a headliner’s show (but honestly I wasn’t expecting any better of him), Flume (it wasn’t bad, but despite his attemps to EDM-ize his show, I believe his music belongs to the intimacy of a closed room or tent), Kaytranada that I found a little meh, 2ManyDJ’s who should really take a look at these past few years’ music instead of always playing the same stuff, Klub des Loosers who had the good idea to come on stage with a live band but couldn’t deliver… Going to a festival can be confronting: you see live, on stage, an artist that you’ve been listening to over and over for a while, and it’s either better or not as good.

dour festival elektropedia balzaal 2015

  • For its 27th birthday, Dour received two new stages: Le Labo, a small, intimate tent where you could find the most experimental acts, and the Red Bull Elektropedia Balzaal, which moved outdoors, to an area surrounded by hills, allowing 10 000 clubbers to enjoy sets by the world’s best DJ’s under the sun/moonlight. Drum’n’bass, techno, house all had their hour of glory! The only problem: the festival’s visitors loved the idea so much that the stage went over capacity and the entrance got blocked several times. Let’s trust the organizers to come up with the necessary improvements by next year’s edition!

dour festival laveurs de mains

  • This year, if you walked around on the festival, you probably witnessed a few attractions: some initiatives were chosen and produced by external creatives, in collaboration with the festival. You might have seen, for example, people walking around cleaning hands, toilet DJ’s, Felipe Pantone’s giant artwork, an installation by the guys from La Superette… I personally always appreciate a festival that goes the extra mile to be more than ‘just a festival’.
  • As for the weather, we got pretty lucky this year: the first 4 days were sunny and warm, forcing us to crawl out of our tents at 10am. We complained, until it started raining cats and dogs during the night between Saturday and Sunday (I know my iPhone will never forget).

couscous dour festival fleurs d'oranger

  • The food on the site is getting better, but it remains pretty basic, greasy and, well, too expensive. This year, we had a brilliant idea: getting out of the festival and exploring the village of Dour to test some of the local restaurants. Some people recommended us Fleurs d’Oranger for their couscous, and I’m glad we listened! This will definitely become a tradition… delicious, healthy (I mean, veggies!!), affordable and served by an adorable team. The best way to recover from a few days of fast food!

So, that sums it up pretty much! Oh, but wait: I don’t wanna get too deep into it, but I can’t not mention the fuss that you probably saw in the media about police controls that happened the first day. A bunch of drugs were seized, a bunch of dealers got arrested: a giant leap… or so it seems. To me, it certainly sounds like the Belgian and international media found an easy target to bash. As Peter Decuypere explained, you’ll find drugs on every festival. As a matter of fact, look around and you’ll find drugs in every club, bar, in companies and schools. It’s time people stop being so hypocritical: multiplying arrests and seizures won’t make any difference, it’s just a bunch of statistics that give politicians and people the illusion that things are under control. It won’t keep anyone off drugs, those who wanna do it will always find a way. I’ve always believed in a preventive approach, with an open dialogue: providing information and clean material, a safe place to discuss and ask questions, a refuge for those who need help or advice, to take care of the people who can’t handle their consumption. It’s about educating the youth and making people responsible for themselves, not about reminding people that drugs are illegal. As far as I can remember, Dour was always a place where this was the philosophy, where people didn’t play ostrich, and yes, that might be a reason why people don’t hide like they do elsewhere. At some point, a few years back, the campsite even had a booth where you could get your drugs tested, to make sure you were going to be safe, but the initiative was badly received by the conservatives, who thought it was encouraging and playing down drug consumption.

Anyway! I said I wouldn’t go on hours about this, so I won’t. But I wanted to express my opinion, as unpopular as it might be, as I presume this issue will be omnipresent in the news this Summer (next weekend, the same type of controls are planned for Tomorrowland) and I hope my readers will be able to process this information wisely.

Now I’m off to my post-festival depression, healing my dark circles and my broken voice… and counting down the days to the 2016 edition!

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