Report: The Oasis Festival
After having returned home to low temperatures and light drizzle, I cannot help but feel a little nostalgic when looking back on my days spent in Morocco for the debut edition of Oasis Festival. Born from the long time dream of the American/Moroccan founder to put her native country on the dance music map, Oasis Festival promised to have everything in store to make my stay, and that of the diverse crowd that coming from 25 different countries, worthwhile.
It was to be a festival quite different from what we’re used to in Europe; the Netherlands in particular. With a highly intimate setting – around 2000 people attending over the span of three days -, perfect temperatures and a finely curated line up consisting of some top underground artists in house, techno and beyond (DJ Harvey, Carl Craig, Gerd Janson, Guy Gerber, Chloé) has shown a lot of potential to indeed turn a formerly peripheral region in dance music into a serious contender for people who want to experience outdoor party season off the beaten path.
Before the event’s start on Friday afternoon, I went to the Fellah Hotel the previous day to check out the site. Fellah, meaning farmer in Arabic (the hotel ground has a small vegetable farm on to it which is utilised for their restaurant), is a medium-sized resort located some fifteen kilometres south of Marrakech, Morocco’s biggest city.
Fellah is characterised by its traditional pink, Berber-like hotel rooms, small pathways that meander through the desert terrain which is flanked by near deadly cactuses and palm trees. The AC’ed hotel lobby was a welcome treat from the 35 degree temperature outside. As we walked past a tropically dressed DJ Harvey, seated in the corner and observing the crew and hotel guests (or having a nap, as his shades were really too dark to tell) and past the art deco bar, you automatically walk into the pool area which was to be Oasis Festival’s main stage. It consists of a large swimming pool which takes up most of the area, with everything immediately surrounding it serving as the dance floor and fields of grass to chill on. The large building in the picture sported a terrace where the DJ booth was going to be. A choice that turned out to not always be beneficial for the chemistry between the crowd and DJ.
I returned the next day halfway through the afternoon, when the party was already well on its way. Attendees kept coming through the lobby doors in their best party apparel. Brits, French, Germans, Dutch, Americans, Tunisians and Moroccans made up the extremely international crowd (in total, over 25 nationalities attended the festival). Everybody was carrying enough energy for three days of exquisite partying. Amine K, one of the Moroccan ambassador artists of the festival, was not holding back an inch on this early hour and banged away through the fat Funktion One soundsystem that was set up around the festival site; you could literally hear the music from miles away as you drove towards Fellah.