United Kingdom | 16 June 2009
For Escape Into The Park, 2009 was the best year for the festival yet says Lyndsey Oliver.
Overall - 8/10
Plain and simple, Swansea is the official home of rave. If you like your dance music a little more dirty, and we mean beats, not mud, then you’re in for the greatest festival of your life.
Jam-packed with two tents, two stages and a very special tent/bar area for those exclusive VIP guests, there are around 50 chances to dance a merry dance in one of the largest one-day festivals for dance fans.
Escape Into The Park has been held in Singleton Park, south Wales, every summer since 2005, and boasts a plethora of new and old school ravers alike. The festival was established in 2001, as a spin-off from the first ever Welsh ‘superclub’ Escape. It was in 2005 when organisers decided to change the dates from August to June, and haven’t looked back since.
Expect neon fairies, buff blokes and boiler suits everywhere, those watching the heaving crowd arriving at 12 o’clock must have been more than a little confused. Luckily the weather was luscious, so those who’d decided to attend with in fewer clothes than they did make-up, stayed warm until the wee hours of the morning.
Despite the recent economic difficulties and everyone seemingly having less money than you can shake a glow stick at, there was only one thing on everybody’s mind this year: having the time of their lives. And there’s definitely no doubting that this year is the best year for the festival yet.
Where else can you hear the likes of Queen, The Prodigy, Kings Of Leon, La Roux, The Happy Mondays and MGMT back to back at a festival? That’s the beauty of DJ’s, it’s about the music, not the bands, it’s about the choons, the beats, and more importantly the dancing. Escape Into The Park is Swansea’s very own little secret, and the best kept secret anyone’s stumbled across.
Getting there and back - 6/10
As a fact, Swansea is the single most difficult destination to reach in England. Okay, maybe not true, but train companies will have you thinking as much. Unless you come from Wales, expect to spend the equivalent of two days just getting there and back and mix that with the train station closing it’s doors at midnight and re-opening at 4am when the first train leaves - it’s probably best to book a hotel for the night.
The site - 9/10
Swansea keeps the weekend behind closed doors. The park itself is nicely out of the way, so there’s minimum effect on those going about their normal business in the city. A short walk from the gates to the entrance of the festival seems fine with everyone and the area chosen for the festival is big enough. With a section for chilling out in the sun, plenty of food, toilets, and most importantly lots of well stocked water points dotted around to keep fans hydrated, there’s very little not catered for.
Atmosphere - 7/10
Plain and simple: beer, sun and drugs are a mixture that doesn’t mix. The massive police presence, the amount of ravers dropping to the floor like flies and people falling over and throwing up can all seem daunting and at best, intimidating. Yet Virtual Festivals encountered only the friendliest of people, were told the best jokes and taught by ‘Mr Rave’ himself how to dance in the Bionic vs Uproar tent.
Dance music is meant for dancing to, and there is no exception here. There’s an opportunity to rave to happy hardcore, krunk to drum n bass and party to techno. Some of the biggest dance acts in the world have previously played Escape Into The Park including Underworld, Roni Size, Mylo and Armin Van Buuren, and this year is no different. The big name DJs included Eric Prydz, Scratch Perverts, Judge Jules, Lisa Lashes and Andy C who all took to the decks - there’s literally something for everyone from those who came for a party, to those who worship the beats.
Eric Prydz - 7/10
This main stage headliner pulled in a huge crowd, eventually. His set was full of narcissistic nods to his own fame such as ‘Call on Me’ and ‘Pjanoo’ alongside the odd sample from the likes of MGMT and Dizzee Rascal. However his performance just didn’t pack that punch and for a headliner act, he just lacked the ability to keep the crowd’s attention.
Dave Pearce - 8/10
Arguably one of the most influential and greatest DJs around, he pulled in a massive crowd for his modest daytime slot. With no gimmicks, and pure unashamed music, Pearce’s set was easily one of the greatest of the weekend.
Andy Whitby - 8/10
An absolute crowd pleaser featuring a mini Prodigy mix alongside Kings of Leon and some of his own tracks, the self-proclaimed savior of hard dance, whipped everybody into a frenzy.
Lisa Lashes - 7/10
Lisa is unquestionably the world’s number one female DJ, a title not to be sniffed at. With tracks such as ‘Has It Come To This’, ‘Unbelievable’ and ‘Warrior’, she defended her title with style and pride.
Despite the fact that there was a small army of police and sniffer dogs at the entrance it was rather annoying to get asked for the twentieth time if we’d like some pills.
The Long and Winding Road
As the music winds up, the funfair takes it’s last stomach churning spin and the food vans sell their last grease laden burger, the cheerful crowd takes time to reflect as they spill out onto the Swansea streets. Despite the fact that it’s midnight and the sky is pitch black, there’s quite a walk from the festival entrance to Singleton Park’s entrance. With little lighting being provided and the crowd now as coordinated as a freshly born deer, disaster strikes with every tree root that penetrates the concrete.
By Lyndsey Oliver
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