After a two-year hiatus Hospitality on the beach is back in the new location of Dehmi, Albania, and it’s not a hyperbolic twist to say the ravers are desperately ready for his return. The much-loved drum and bass festival was originally scheduled to take place in 2020 and was set to return to its former home in Tisno on the beautiful Croatian coast. The world events taking place have left ticket holders with the option of getting a refund or an “I owe you” style ticket. The story is well known, the summer of 2021 has seen the world start to open up again, restaurants, offices and stores have all started operating in varying variations of ‘the new normal’ (take the sick bag!). However, the arts industry has been left to rot in its underfunded state, with theatres, nightclubs and festivals forced to cancel for a second year, meaning the thousands of future Hospitality team members on the Beach received an email notifying them of a full refund.
Later that year, Hospitality revealed that in 2022 the festival would move to a new site in the Albanian Riviera. “Albania!” came the cries of many surprised bettors. The revelation came as a shock to many, probably because the Tisno site of previous years had provided such an exceptionally scenic and beautifully intimate setting that it was hard to imagine any other site could live up to its predecessor. . Hospitality’s message sounded like “you just have to wait and see”, and without any knowledge of the Albanian festival circuit, we have to wait.
Additionally, the announcement of the new venue’s 2022 lineup showed major shifts in the gigantic events company’s booking strategy, with sets promised by a significantly higher proportion of artists of color, artists women and artists belonging to the LGBTQ+ community. To us, rather than feeling like a ticking exercise like these actions sometimes do, Interry’s picks felt well-researched and fully representative of smaller pockets of the drum and bass scene. So with the date set, a new place to explore, and a fresh and diverse lineup to enjoy, we were ready to rave.
All preconceptions about Albania’s ability to rival the beauty of Tisno are instantly banished as we step off the plane and onto the singular little runway at Tirana airport and are greeted by a breathtaking panorama of magnificent mountains in steel colors. With our breaths well and truly caught, we dulled our transfer to embark on our four-hour journey to the coastline. Some hairy moments along the way including; another driver swerving menacingly towards us, our driver pulled over by the police and our vehicle disabled, a quick reminder that this year’s holiday had not been swaddled in the comfort of familiar rules and regulations. This year Hospitality on the beach was off the beaten path, it was new and exciting and the realization of partying through the uncharted and unexpected intrawls came over us. We are ready to join the sun, the sea and the festival site.
If you had celebrated the Tsino site with Hospitality On The Beach in previous years, you will remember that it is a confined and intimate setting where you can quickly move from one stage to another throughout the day. This year’s Dehmi site is a completely different vibe. The Thai Years Festival takes up an entire area of the resort that includes shops, restaurants and accommodations, giving the impression that for this glorious week the world is populated solely by like-minded revelers. The site of course also houses the stages, which this year are four in number; The Yacht Club, The Cove, Splendor and The Hospitality Stage, which have been hosted by the biggest gaming events and labels such as Marky & Friends, Channel One, Spearhead and Born On Road.
Pushing away our late breakfast plate slightly, we take a deep breath of fresh sea air as we watch the sunlight dance in glistening sparks across the turquoise sea to have our own dance. Leaving our beautiful 5 star hotel on site, we descend to the Cove Stage where rotrix greets the day with its sunny 140 set. We spend our afternoons on the beach scene during the day sipping bottles of Albanian favourite, Elbar, and listening Channel One two-hour set, with UK’s famous reggae sound system perfectly echoing the feelings of the crowd ready to have a good time.
The late afternoon sun was still beating down on the festival and we decided to join the team at Soulvent Folders boat party. Dancing on the beautiful pirate-looking ship, we embark on a glorious, if very hectic, journey of smiles and skanking, to the sounds of Pola & Bryson, Vector, Dilemma, In:Most and Visionobi under red skies. and setting.
In our wavy state, which we’re sure has been amplified by the rippling Adriatic, we head for a seafood and wine dinner at popular restaurant Luciano’s before heading to the main stage, where during the week, attend the goliaths of the stage. Andy C, CMA and Camo and twisted each playing killer games and each dropping, one of this year’s earworms ‘Sientelo’.
In the middle of a hangover from last night (born this morning) Back at the hotel at 7am, we down two cans of cola by the pool and decide to head towards the creek, which is today greeted by the legendary drum and bass party AWOL and we bask in the sun listening Darren Jay drop in a classic jungle mix with cooler liquid cuts.
The week continues to bless us with set after set of remarkable music, each time we reach a different milestone we are thrilled by the exceptional level of artists involved, from heavyweights to newcomers, every act gave their all and gave us a truly memorable week. A special mention for us must go to Riya, skeptical and sherelle.
We can’t gloss over the fact that there were a few bumps in the road. The festival community pointed out some issues during the event, such as access to water, which the HOTB team immediately rectified. But as we sit here at Luton airport waiting for our very, very, very delayed suitcases, we think of how if this 80 year old airport can experience hiccups, then HOTB in only its third year, does a great job. Yes, there have been problems getting started, as you would expect from a new site, and of course adjusting to Forgien festivals after a global pandemic, but we are treated to world-class music in a beautiful surroundings, with a beer in hand, surrounded by loving like-minded people.
What more could you ask for? Hospitality on the Beach, see you in 2023!
Words: whiskey kicks