Trancecation at Awake Festival

by | Oct 12, 2020 | EVENT FEATURE REVIEW

“A reunion for those who have been lost for months without music”


The year 2020 has not been kind to the world since the Covid-19 global pandemic which lead to cancellations of EDC, Luminosity, Tomorrowland, and pretty much the entirety of the scene needed to be postponed. I, like everyone was yearning for something to pan out. I was able to retract weeks of vacation since shows were being cancelled left and right. However, when it was announced in May that Awake Festival would still be happening in August, my traveling soul mate Sharissa and I booked a beach house since I had a plethora of vacation time at my disposal. And if things did not work out, the very least, we had a reservation that could have been used for 2021. As we got to the end of June, we looked into the traveling requirements for Croatia since most of the EU was banning US travelers as Croatia was not. Awake Festival was going to happen and we needed to be serious with our traveling plans.

Croatia stole my heart. The country is absolutely gorgeous and cost is very reasonable compared to other party islands like Ibiza, and the water is the clearest I have ever seen in my life. I would highly recommend Croatia, and cannot wait to go back.

The 4-day festival was scheduled from Aug 20-23, on the beautiful island of Pag at Zcre Beach.  However, rules and regulations changed daily which made planning for this trip full of anxiety. We figured out that our ticket into Croatia was by first flying into Turkey to take a Covid test. During our flight, we found out that the Croatian government changed curfew for events to end at midnight. So what was supposed to be an 8PM to 5AM event got shifted from noon or 3PM to midnight. Ironically, this was for the best since I haven’t gone out for five months and I don’t think I could have stayed up each night.

We rented a beach house right on Zcre Beach and less than a 5-min walk to the event. The place was a cute 2 bedrooms, 2-bath house with a private pool and BBQ. We took full advantage by just hanging out by the pool with some adult beverages while blasting our favorite tunes. We befriended neighbors from Germany and France, and instantly I remembered why festivals are so amazing because it also brings people from around the world for the love of music. It was easy to see, every single one of us was yearning for live music. We needed to be around people at a live event like we needed air and water.

Finally, day-1 was upon us. Awake Festival took place in the smaller of the two venues at the Kalypso Club with two stories and a good size dance floor that had tables placed throughout it to help with social distancing. The upper level was pretty much VIP bottle services and I knew I would be there the whole time. I like my personal space and with Covid-19, I really wanted to control who can be in my bubble.

Like most shows, local DJs opened up with a bang, but it wasn’t until Jorn Van Deynhoven came on that it really hit me. Getting complete lost in the music, being with my friends, surrounded by amazing strangers I broke down and let the tears fall. My soul was complete. Being deprived for over five months, I was able to get back even if it was just for a couple of days. I was at my happy place.

The music washed through me but when JVD dropped Concrete Angel, it reminded me of my strength to get through dark times and I lost it again. Next, Ram delivered an epic 90-min while the night closed out with Ferry Corsten present Gouryella. Nine hours flew quick but what better way to continue partying back at the beach house with our German neighbors who had their own set up. A proper after-hour led by Christian the Mad Scientist who DJ’d till security shut us down. Night-1 was in the books.

Day-2 came too fast and I was starting to feel my age. In prior time, my stamina would have taken me to the fourth day before crashing. We made our way early to the NOA Beach Club as the event started at noon this day. The sun was bright and coming down on us. NOA Beach Club is an amazing 2-story huge venue which jets over the gorgeous water where you can easily jump in any time to cool off. Something many people did during the early hours. On top of that, there were four small wading pools throughout the venue so you can stay cool and continue to party.

Our group made our way to our bottle service table where I met up with a New York friend Don who was going to join us for the rest of the weekend. The club provided fans and blow up toys for the patrons and we made sure to grab a few souvenirs. ReOrder was doing an early special (not scheduled) RRDR set which showcased his more progressive side and it was sexy. The perfect grooving day in the heat to get you ready to party. After that, the energy just ascended with Cosmic Gate and Talla 2XLC playing phenomenal sets, and then there was the big guns Richard Durand who never disappointed me delivering again tunes that had me dancing, singing, and crying especially when he played The Air I Breathe; hearing it live the first time at Luminosity, the song came at me with a hundred memories and I wish I could have shared it with my friends and loved ones who weren’t there.

The 12-hour day went by way too fast and soon Sander Van Doorn presents Purple Haze dropped an incredible set and Scot Project brought the house down. He is unapologetic when it comes to hard trance and I loved every single moment of it.

It seemed like the day just started and security was telling us to leave. We made our walk back to the beach house and continued the after-hour party. The reputation was spreading as more folks joined this time around and I saw more familiar faces. We partied till security shut us down and night-2 was officially history.

Day-3 was a pain rolling out of bed but I had to get up ready because the party started at noon and the line up was stacked! The first half of the DJs dropped classics which was reminiscing back of the classic stage at Luminosity with the right vibe as Talla 2XLC played the perfect early set. Ram played his 25 years of Ram’s special show and I finally was able to see it since it was cancelled back in March in Los Angeles. Playing some of the biggest classics of all time, Ram and Talla set the mood perfectly for day-3.

I was starting to feel myself again toward the end of Ram’s set and then Kai Tracid came on and injected me with life. I swear this man knows where the fountain of youth is because he has not aged in 20 years, but none the less he delivered an epic set. When he dropped his classic Trance and Acid track the crowd went wild. He handed over the decks to Scot Project who said “Fuck Your feelings!” and dropped a hard trance classic set of some of this best tracks. I was up, I was dancing and I was having the time of my life.

Half way through the day-3 when Estiva got on, I was actually wondering how this would work since he is definitely on the other side of the spectrum from Scot Project, but Estiva delivered a sexy set that made you want to make babies. He masterfully kept the energy high bringing down the tempo to a progressive sound. Estiva handed the decks over to Cosmic Gate who brought the energy back up with their signature sound. Bossi was definitely in control for the night and the club was packed! I was so happy to be in VIP with my own table and area.

ReOrder jumped on and brought the disorder that he can with a high energy that got the crowd fist pumping and dancing the night away. And the night closed out with Arctic Moon who knocked it out of the park. What a set! He went with a techier and darker style than his usual uplifting sound and it worked. Twelve hours flew by and as I walked out it dawned on me we only have one more night and I can feel my heart strings tighten. Day-3 was done and as much as I was looking forward to day-4, I was dreading it.

Day-4 came along and a melancholy feeling crept in with happiness. I couldn’t wait to get to the venue, but at the same time I didn’t want this magical weekend to end. The event was back at the Kalypso Beach Club at 3pm, so the final 9 hours of the only multi-day trance festival was going to end. Sharissa and I left earlier than our group because we wanted to savor every last minute. We got our VIP table and just took in the sights from the club. Being on the beach, you had just the most picturesque views that you have to pinch yourself to remind you that you are not dreaming.

The openers set the mood perfectly and then Ronski Speed came on to deliver a solid set. My goal was to enjoy, take it in and not overthink about it ending. Next up was LA regular, Kyau & Albert with one of the best set I have heard from them ever.  Then came the godfather himself Paul Van Dyk. His Guiding Light Tour in June was cancelled due to Covid-19 so I was beyond excited to get to see it. What a set, PVD is the godfather for a reason and never fails to bring his ‘A’game.  He ended his set with his track Music Rescues Me. What an ending to a perfect set.

Not many can follow PVD but Ferry Corsten was back at it again with an energy set that was worthy of following PVD.  The night closed out with the wild child of Scotland, Will Atkinson. His catch phrase, “Will Atkinson ruined my life” still stands strong as he destroyed the dance floor. Banger after banger, he left the dance floor sweaty and in awe and just like that the festival was over. I think it hit everyone at the same time because we all were standing there with the realization it was over. As security told us to leave, everyone walked out trying to make the last seconds count. We walked back to the beach house and did our last after-hour with our neighbors. This time we convinced security to let us go longer and kept the party going till 4AM when they finally shut us down for good. What a weekend!

Next day Monday was a full day of sleeping in and Tuesday, we headed back to the city to bring my only trancecation of 2020 to an end. Looking back at all the craziness, the changes and the headaches to attend this event was all worth it and I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Awake Festival was a reunion for those who have been lost for months without music. A reunion of festival lovers, a reunion of trance lovers, but more importantly a reunion of humanity. Those days on the island made you forget about the craziness going on around in the world. You were able to live life not quite pre-Covid, but as close to it. People weren’t arguing over politics, religion and whatever else.  People from around the world came together for the love of music.

Live events need to come back as soon as possible, because it is the hope for society. The world is still in a weird space, but for 4 days I was able to forget all of it and be truly happy for the first time in five months.

Awake Festival not just saved my Summer, it saved my soul and I will be forever grateful for it.

-Danielle Sanders