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Festival Review The techno dimension

DIMENSIONS FESTIVAL
Fort Punta Christo, Pula, Croatia
 

DIMENSIONS is the techno heaven of festivals. Offering punters the experience of electronic music in a number of fascinatingly unique locations — a 19th century fort, a 2,000-year-old Roman amphitheatre, in underground tunnels built during WWI, on a beach and on boats that sail the Adriatic — one can see why.

The main site is of course Fort Punta Christo, built by Austria to protect its navy when Croatia was under the dominion of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

 Daniel Kirsicc)
The Clearing (Pic: Daniel Kirsicc)

Opening its doors from 9pm, the spooky site sees some of the world's best DJs perform in its atmospheric nooks and crannies until 6am the following morning.

One of the most eye-opening — The Moat — is built in, you guessed it, the fort's moat, with a wall of giant speakers running along its sides to ensure the pummelling of the most die-hard dancer. Ear-plugs are a must.

Attracting most of the big name headliners, including Nina Kraviz, Helena Hauff and Ben UFO, the Moat is the place to be after dark.

However it's most certainly not the only place to be. There's the Courtyard just inside the fort's gates, the Dungeon, which is like an underground tunnel, the Ballroom, a circular turret-style venue for a more intimate audience and the Stables, The Void, Subdub Arena and Garden, all scattered inside and out of the fort's myriad walls.

 Rob Jones)
Kraftwerk 3D (Pic: Rob Jones)

Dimensions has moved on a lot in just seven years and what was once reserved for its bigger DnB sister festival Outlook, which is set in the same site the following week, the Clearing stage is now used for Dimensions too. On the way to the fort itself, the Clearing is more akin to a regular festival stage being out in a wide open grassy space. Without a doubt the best stage for live music, the Clearing features a remarkable set from James Holden & The Animal Spirits, probably the best set of the festival by producer Jon Hopkins and a seven-hour finale by Ninja Tune stalwart Bonobo.

 Perry Gibson)
The Moat (Pic: Perry Gibson)

But the main stages is only half what Dimensions has on offer. Most are happy enough to while away the daylight hours on the beach, where the campsite is located, in 30-plus degree heat. However those with the energy can opt for a huge choice of boat parties that set sail across the Adriatic sea from morning til night, just in time to hop off before the fort is in full swing.

The boat parties are a fantastic opportunity to see your favourite DJ in more intimate surroundings. Arguably Hamburg-DJ Helena Hauff plays an even better set on her boat party than in the aforementioned Moat. It's worth noting that almost all the DJs who perform on boat parties also play in the fort, so given that boat party tickets are sold separately and not included in the price of the main ticket, getting one would appear to be a matter of seeing them in an unusual setting.

Talking of unusual settings, this year Dimensions has decided to convert the labyrinthine Zerostrasse tunnels in the main city of Pula into underground club nights. Again sold separately, for two nights punters can party in the tunnels that were built as air raid shelters during WWI before being used again as atomic shelters during WWII by the Yogoslav army.

As if that wasn't enough, the festival's best ever opening ceremony sees Kraftwerk perform a 3D set in Pula's Roman Amphitheatre. Moments before Nils Frahm had the impressive stage decked out in vintage electronic equipment for a mind-blowing modern-classical-electronic performance.

There are a few blips this year. Stormy weather saw sets being postponed "due to an electrical storm" but were promptly switched back on when it was clear there was no threat. And you can see why organisers were being sensible with health and safety, they didn't want to be responsible for electrocuting Nina Kraviz.

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