Look at all the fun you can have when you don't hibernate through January
You may have heard that last weekend saw the fifth edition of the Bugged Out Weekender take over Butlins in Bognor Regis. It also saw this dance music writer ring in his 27th birthday. Needless to say the decision to combine the two, made for some fairly hazy recollections.
Being a consummate pro, though, I made sure to take detailed notes and shitloads of phone photos throughout the weekend. So don't worry, your photo-led festival narrative is intact and presented in non-linear form below for your enjoyment.
My mission was to capture the essence of one of the most fun events in the dance music calendar, avoid joining the 27 club at all costs, and make it back in time for work.
Did I succeed? Well I missed work... but I'm still alive, so you can decide on the rest.
Lets begin with a public service announcement to Jackmaster, Jasper James, the Bicep lads and any other Scottish or Irish BOW attendees. You know the Whistle Stop in Victoria station, right beside where you get the train to Bognor? It sells Buckfast! Arriving at Butlins with a bag full of bucky, couldn't be easier.
Groove Armada Not Playing The Hits
Photo: Luke Dyson
Listen I'm not going to sit here and tell Groove Armada what to do. They're Groove Armada, they can do whatever the hell they want. They could've played an hour of static and I'll still buy their next album. Alls I'm saying is that it's always a tiny bit disappointing when an act has a boatload of hits (pun wholeheartedly intended) and then doesn't play any of them.
Armand Van Helden Playing ALL The Hits
Photo: Tom Horton
Compare that to AVH, who packed the main room to bursting with an hour of not only his own hits, but a tour de force of dance classics from the 90s, 00s and today. This was easily the most enjoyable set I saw all weekend and is likely to be some of most fun I'll have all year. Top marks!
Games, Games, Games
Photo: Luke Dyson
You know what's more fun than sitting at home eating quinoa, slapping on nicotine patches and tweeting about not drinking? Going to Bugged Out, drinking for three days and letting yourself loose on the biggest Arcade you've ever seen. Over the course of the weekend I shot up the inhabitants of Jurassic Park, repeatedly crashed a Star Wars Battle Pod, competed in 4-person 4am Mario Cart races and sat in some virtual reality space ship thing for a full five minutes before realising it wasn't switched on. Oh you did dry January? Ten points to IDGAF.
Photo: Luke Dyson
My favourite new addition for BOW2016, was the Tourist Information Announcements playing throughout the site. After a short blast of suitably jaunty elevator music, the familiar voice of Artwork would chime in to deliver vital pieces of visitor information, such as where the pool is, what DJs to see and what time Burger King opens.
Burger King Banditry
The Weekender is full of bizarre moments, and this being my third outing, I've amassed quite the collection of Butlins based stories. That said, easily my strangest experience came early Saturday afternoon, shortly after ordering my annual Bugged Out Burger King. As I was waiting for my food a man dressed like a steampunk Jazzy Jeff came in and tried to pay with an apparently counterfeit tenner. As the ensuing argument between the provincial staff and the Burger King Bandit raged, it felt like I was trapped in a deleted scene from The League of Gentlemen. Don't ask me how it ended, as I scarpered back to bed the second my food was ready, but if you witnessed the conclusion please tweet me the details.
Bigger Than J.E.S.u.S?
Going into Bugged Out this was what I, and probably everyone else, was most hyped for. An aligning of the DJ hero stars, a supergroup for the ages, a B2B². Armand Van Helden, Eats Everything, Jackmaster and Skream joining forces to bring the ruckus. How could this not be the highlight of the weekend? Well, maybe it was coming off the back of AVH's hour of power, or maybe it was too many cooks spoil the broth, but unfortunately, it just fell a little flat. This is not a reflection on any of the DJs (all of whom are great) - I just wasn't that into it.
Johnno Getting His Freak On
I was, however, very into the official after parties happening every night in the Rosso Lounge. For the duration of the weekend, Rosso's had been turned into what I'm told is an exact replica of Artwork's living room. Kitted out with a chunky soundsystem, a copy of Chris Moyle's autobiography and some nice reading lights, this party started at 4am and went on long after my legs gave out. Despite my exhaustion I managed to get the above (admittedly poor) snap of Bugged Out! founder, Johnno, stepping up to the decks and dropping Missy Elliot's - "Get Ur Freak On". A magical moment for all involved.
Very Cool Pool Parties
Photo: Luke Dyson
Jackmaster transported us from the boardwalks of Bognor to the beaches of Miami with a classic Tweakaholic set. A few surprise DJ appearances, a more than up-for-it crowd and a new addition to the waterslide roster capped off a hangover-cleansing afternoon in the pool.
Cracking Crack Ons
Photo: Tara Barbour
One of the things that sets BOW out from any other UK festival is that when you finally tire of the official music, you're only a brisk walk from hundreds of after parties. Everyone goes back to their chalet, grabs the booze and beelines towards the loudest music. It's a great way to spend some extra time with your mates, bouncing from party to party until you eventually end up back at yours, bodies scattered around the room, napping through daytime TV until the sun goes down again. You just don't get that at Glastonbury.
The Bugged Out Weekender will return in 2017. More info here.
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20 Jan 2016