We flew to Andorra for three days of DnB & ski
Innovation have been packing out dancefloors since the early 90’s and with the launch of their new ‘In The Snow’ concept last weekend it’s clear they are digging in their heels to establish a stronger name for themselves on the fierce festival circuit.
Back in 2004 they launched their favoured ‘In The Sun’ event, a week long clubbing holiday at the heart of the jump up drum & bass scene that takes place every year near Barcelona in the peak of the summer. It’s little surprise that they have chosen the conveniently located resort of Pas De La Casa in Andorra for this years snow instalment. A location admired by the keenest of skiers from all over Europe, yet still able to cater for the inflow of British drinkers with its favourable array of bars and tax free booze. On paper Pas De La Casa is the perfect place for a snow festival of Innovation’s calibre.
I set off on Thursday morning excited but knowing full well that there was a lot of ground to cover. Our group had a 2-hour flight to Barcelona, followed by a 4-hour coach trip to the resort across the border and up the Pyrenees, losing an hour to the time zone on the way.
The plane was full of fired up teenagers in bucket hats, tracksuits and weed tees, smashing back the in-flight Stellas and getting hype. I figured if I’m going to be spending the next three days embedded in this crowd it’s comforting to know that they were up for a proper party.
We arrived in Spain as the sun started to set and were met with disappointment, as the coach transfer to Andorra had been cancelled and everyone before us had coughed up €300 to share a taxi. Praying it would turn up eventually, we settled in for an aggravating two and a half hours. At long last it arrived, but with no explanation from the driver. Whether this was Innovations fault or the Spanish coach company, it was a frustrating start not knowing what was going on and one that could have easily been avoided.
When we set off into the darkness transportation issues were quickly left behind, the San Miguel’s were in full flow and the coach was booming for the whole journey – things were getting nicely out of hand. Arriving at the resort much later than planned, the four of us decided we were better off hitting the sack and saving ourselves for what promised to be a full two days of snow, drums and drinking.
Waking up in Pas De La Casa on Friday was refreshing and the snowy conditions were perfect. With immediate access to 210km of ski slopes and the largest area in the Pyrenees, we were eager to spend a full day on the powder. The resort has a welcoming mix of reds and blues and the incredible mountain views were apparent once aboard the rather unsettling six-seater ski-lifts. Knowing full well I’d be punished on the dancefloor later that day if I tested out the mogul infested blacks, I settled for the beginner runs. I tore up the slopes for a whole afternoon and when my legs finally couldn’t take it any longer I headed for the dedicated Innovation bar to get the ball rolling.
The drum & bass bar was situated right at the main entrance to the slopes and so being there at sunset when it isn’t filled to the rafters gives a bit of breathing space to appreciate the music and location. With talented DJ's spinning all evening and the intimate crowd absorbing the beats it was the perfect place to recharge your energy ready for a night of partying in the main arena.
The aptly named ‘Igloo Dome’ was positioned just on the outskirts of town to avoid noise complaints and it was instantly apparent that a good amount of effort had been put into setup and production by the organisers. The sound coming from the Void system was quality and for someone who is usually somewhat cynical towards the more jump up side of drum and bass, I found myself glued to the dancefloor.
To the delight of those there to dance, Friday night’s lineup was heaving with big names. The crowd were fully into the swing of things when we arrived, with Grooverider getting into the mix and spinning dark and techy rollers late into the night. The Innovation crew were soaking in the sounds, while the hardcore heads formed in the middle, eagerly anticipating the hefty reloads from SASASAS congregating up on stage. Frankee and Serum were in good form, with the MC's pleasing everyone in attendance into the early hours of the morning.
Waking up on Saturday was a struggle but knowing I wouldn't be in surroundings as nice as this for a while I was keen for another day of skiing. I made my way up the mountain and picked up from where I left off the afternoon before. I was surprised at how quickly I had adapted to the slopes considering I've only been skiing once before. By the time I finished my last run I was pretty battle weary and returned to the apartment in the early evening, satisfied that I’d stuck to my mission of making use of the perfectly-groomed pistes.
Continuing the tradition from the night before, the cheap drinks were in full flow and we set off to explore the nightlife on offer, swiftly moving from one bar to the next. Inside provided a welcome heat break from the cold outside and the locals really came to life with the presence of the fresh-faced Innovation fans. The bars were booming and with tax free prices as low as €2 per pint it’s little surprise the party would often last until the early hours of the morning.
The main arena on Saturday night was heaving from the beginning. We were welcomed by DJ Hype playing DJ Hazard and Distorted Minds - "Mr Happy” and even though it was a popular choice throughout the festival, the song took on a whole different meaning knowing it was our last night of dancing. The Prototypes blended all styles of drum & bass and the MC's once again built the excitement to ecstatic levels as the night progressed.
It’s too bad that the festival ended early for us leaving for the airport in the early morning as the crowd were really going for it. Special praise must go to the French air traffic controllers who characteristically decided to hold a strike just as we arrived back in Barcelona, delaying our flight another four hours.
While Innovation in the Snow may have been chaotic for some, with long coach transfer waits and issues with hotel staff, there is no question that the festival lived up to expectations. This was the first time they had swapped Sun for Snow and whilst the organisers certainly have a lot to learn in terms of preparing on site, there’s still plenty of time to smooth over the cracks when the season comes around next year.
The essential thing is that Innovation are gaining ground and with such an avid fanbase I reckon there's a lot in store for these promoters.
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24 Mar 2016