For the big room set, Raquet Club was the place to be. Our adventures found us at Tuesday’s United Ants event, where Sven Vath, Andrea Oliva and more did what they do best, bringing the dark room sound of Ibiza, while Wednesday brought Jamie Jones’ Paradise concept to the space. Thursday saw a more grime and urban house oriented evening with man-of-the-hour Skepta shutting things down, Hennessy in hand. Alongside Skepta, the night saw performances from veteran garage crooner Craig David, while actor, DJ, renaissance man Idris Elba provided the DJ beats (on that, and not music related, if you haven’t seen Elba’s amazing performance in Netflix’ ‘Beasts of No Nation’ do yourself a favor and do so…but beware, this isn’t “Netflix & Chill” territory). The Raquet Club was dressed up to the max with visuals, to the point where Paradise felt like its lazer show was as prominent an element as the artists performing. During the early parts of the festival, the massive space, which in its practical us is a tennis club, did experience some less than stellar sound. Not so much a result of a shotty sound system but more so by its design-based acoustic capabilities (and size). Regardless, with a top notch production, heavyweight lineups, and a more than up for it crowd (more about that later) Racquet is a must visit destination for all future Snowbombing attendees.
As for the special and one-off events, I will bypass describing all the activities and social events that went down (tug-o-war, ping pong and, of course, snowboarding and skiing) but rather describe how the Snowbombing experience is ripe with surprise, color, and personality, with an anything goes attitude that can pop up when you least suspect it. For one, the Mad Max inspired road trip to the Alps left a somewhat dystopian aesthetic on many of the vehicles parked in the area, while the fancy dress, Dee-Lite inspired Street Party brought out costumes of various levels of creativity; let’s just say that there were oompa loompas, animals of every kind, hippies, and, of course, your raunchy religious figures everywhere. At the Street Party, music was provided by the always grooving Groove Armada (see what I did there?), amongst others.
No Snowbombing experience would be complete without a mention of the Arctic Disco. This truly unique venue situated 6000 feet in the air. It is a real igloo complete with two dance areas, a chill out space fitted with luxurious fur rugs and three bars sculptured entirely from ice and snow (including the furniture!). For us, the highlight was surely Kerri Chandler who, in the absence of supporting act Heidi (due to illness) provided an all night set. Something about the smooth, soulful sounds of the MadTech man under the stars just fit perfectly, and a nice glass of hot gluhwein doesn’t hurt either. Aside from Kerri and the aforementioned Hannah Wants and Fatboy Slim, nighttime in the Arctic Disco also saw sets from Nic Fanciulli, Ben Pearce, My Nu Leng, and Shy FX, with even more manning the decks during the daytime hours.
All in all, the Snowbombing 2016 experience was undeniably unique. It is a destination event worthy of consideration, for sure. Obviously for winter sport fanatics who double as electronic music lovers, there is no place better. For me, the surprising thing was how relaxing it all ended up being. My anticipation for a week long party adventure within such close confines brought to mind the feeling that rest would be the last thing I would be getting but, on the contrary, I returned to Amsterdam refreshed. Perhaps it was the clean mountain air; perhaps it was the awe inspiring majesty of its glacial carvings; perhaps it was the feeling of isolation, but Mayrehofen does not skimp on the comfort. Also being on 700 metres altitude in the midst of the Alps is picturesque to say the least – and can leave you with a nasty headache after a couple of beers and Jäger shots because of the lower oxygen level.
The Food was delicious (I heard Schnitzels grow on trees there. Also, be sure to visit Hans The Butcher and be as gluttonous as you can be. This is the finest, organic meats, straight from the farm to your stomach), beers were…warm (that’s ok). Mayrhofen’s surroundings also begged us for a hike one day, which guided us through little shrines in the rocks, cattle farms, and log cabins where we could try out yet another epic Wiener Schnietzel. While gasping for air every ten minutes, the steep route up the mountain brought us incredible views of Mayrhofen and its surroundings.
Should I have a single criticism it would be a less-than-stellar respect for the space that was shown by a certain faction of the festival’s attendees. My advice here, alcohol is cool and all, especially on holiday, but clean up after yourself. Such a gorgeous location that can inspire the kind of relaxation everyone surely needs, should be respected. Clean up after yourselves and, for god’s sake, don’t allow the drinks to turn you into an aggressive cunt (unfortunately, I had two unpleasant experiences with overly aggressive patrons, including at our own event). Regardless of the slight criticism, there still is much fun to be had and many amazing friends to be made. For Snowbombing, as an event, it feels like one that has transcended any gimmicky nature of concept into a seminal date on the annual dance music calendar. Much like BPM’s January dates come as a welcome change for many due to its seasonal location, so does Snowbombing’s, an experience all its own.