Amy Melissa Farina
The second edition of Dropzone took place from July 11-14th in Zcre Beach Croatia. Hardstyle Mag’s Amy Farina was on the scene for the full experience. From pool parties, to night clubs, to sunrise sets, here is our full report!
First things first what sets Dropzone apart is not only the spectacular location of the gorgeous Pag Island, but the fact that each event essentially is what you would traditionally think of as a stage. At your traditional festival you have multiple stages across multiple days, some days the stages may change genres, but the stages themselves remain the same. At Dropzone the festival takes place across various locations, each venue has one stage, but this is an event experience that I hadn’t seen before.
Each day there was a day and night program allowing for plenty of time to do more than just the normal festival agenda. Another unique aspect of Dropzone is the accessibility of being able to see DJs literally everywhere. DJs such as Mish or Act of Rage just having a bite to eat on the boardwalk or walking into the club. It was very easy to meet and see the DJs you wanted to see throughout the week. This is different from your average festival where following a set you would traditionally wait for the DJ to come down at the side of the stage to say hi or to snap a photo.
Another noteworthy point about the event was that you could come and go from the clubs as you wanted, which was huge a plus. At traditional festivals there’s no re-entry. It was great to be able to go and chill at the beach for a bit or grab food or drinks outside. The freedom allowed for plenty of time to enjoy every moment of the experience aside from just the music.
So with all that being said before we jump into the full review, I could obviously not write about everything I saw there because there was so much but here are all the highlights!
We arrived in Novalja on the 10th from Split. The check-in at the travel agency associated with Dropzone was relatively smooth minus the deposit. We were informed up front that we would need to put down a deposit on the apartment but did not know that it needed to be in cash. We did quickly learn however that Croatia is a cash-based society, but for most people carrying around 300 Euros worth of cash on vacation is not customary.
So, we along with many others had to withdraw Kuna from the ATM pay the deposit and then at the end got Kuna back on the very last day and then had to exchange it at the airport for Euros again. Minor inconvenience but something important for people know to be prepared for ahead of time. Following the check-in process, the transfer from the travel agency to the apartment was quick and easy.
We opted for the pool apartments which was 110% the right decision. We had a balcony overlooking a pool and were just a stone’s throw away from the beach, a market, a bakery, plenty of shops and restaurants. The apartment itself was beautiful two bedroom with an extra bed in the living room, air conditioning, two TVs, extremely clean, and the perfect amount of space for four people. We spent a lot of time by the pool blasting music and sharing drinks with our neighbors. I would without doubt stay in the same apartment again and recommend the pool apartments for those wanting to have that extra comfort while still being close to the festival, the beach, and the town.
Novalja totally exceeded my expectations, it is so much more than a party location. Aside from the beach and the festival we rented an ATV, a scooter, went shopping, and went out to eat (had one of the best meals of my life at Starac I More [The Old Man and the Sea]). There was also a water obstacle course, jet skiing, slide boats, high speed boats, kayaking, and so much more to do but so little time.
Zcre Beach was equally as captivating especially at night the boardwalk lined up with night club after night club pumping different kinds of music with crowds from all over the world. There were little shops in between to grab some drinks or food. There were also rides and places to sit along the beach if you needed to take a break.
Burra Beach Club
What sets this club apart from the others is that its 100% open air, you can just walk right in and out it’s totally open right on the beach. This club in my opinion had the most unique stage, an angler fish. The DJ was literally playing inside of the fish’s mouth! There was also a giant octopus over the bar.
The only downsides about this club were that the speakers were located towards front of the club and there were no bathrooms so if you wanted to go to the bathroom you needed to leave the club, go for a short walk and either pay five Kuna to the closest bathrooms or walk a distance for the free bathrooms.
Kalypso was the host of the opening and the closing party for Dropzone. It is the oldest club at Zcre Beach and was my favorite regarding the layout. The club had multiple levels where despite being VIP or not you could access. There was plenty of places to sit and you could see the stage from various parts of the club (from a content creator perspective this is really clutch).
Moreover, Kalypso had real trees growing inside of the club albeit a bit dangerous (we had a few minor casualties as result of the foliage) and a few “WHO BUILDS A TREE IN A CLUB” moments but I personally appreciated the integration of nature within the club. There were also large flowers and butterflies hanging from the ceiling.
My favorite part of Kalypso was that you could look out and see the lit up boardwalk and all the clubs from the inside of Kalyspo. Like the other clubs on the strip was also open air but somewhat covered by the ceiling decorations giving you that club vibe while still simultaneously being outside.
The Musical Madness Pool Party took place at Papaya Club on Tuesday. This small club is the perfect place to host a pool party. As I sipped on a Blue Lagoon in a beach cabana it really felt like a lounge in the Caribbean (well with hardstyle). It was a bit overcrowded but definitely the perfect place for a pool party.
Both The Dirty Workz 15 Years party and the Gearbox Pool Party took place at Noa. When you first enter Noa there are small pools around and a stage (where the pool party was). There is also an area with nets that are on top of the ocean where you can lay in.
As you walk further into Noa it becomes more of a traditional night club style, although still open air. During the pool party there were fun inflatables and at night confetti which always add to the experience.
Aquarius hosted the We Rule the Night party on Wednesday and it is also an outdoor venue with a beachy cabana vibe. This club definitely had the best visuals and lasers of all the clubs.
The downside about this club was that there was nowhere to sit, and the sound quality wasn’t as good as some of the other clubs on the strip.
Okay so now let’s get into the music. The Dropzone line-up consistently predominantly of hardstyle and rawstyle.
Again, I could not cover every single artist that I saw during the festival otherwise this review would be ten pages long but here are some of in my opinion the most memorable sets of the week.
Pie Star was the first DJ that we managed to see at Dropzone. It was my first time seeing him and I quickly learned that he is one of the prominent hardstyle artists in Taiwan. When he dropped All Night [Zero Days Remix] Afrojack feat Ally Brooke everyone went wild. He is a must watch and someone to keep an eye on this festival season.
Sofia is another DJ that I discovered at Dropzone and will not forget. She threw down an epic set of Hardstyle and Rawstyle bangers such as FTS by Showtek and everyone’s favorite corona anthem Covid-19 (I Hate You) by Zatox and & Villain. Furthermore, she had a great stage presence and energy throughout the set.
Suae threw down an extremely diverse set with dubstep influences that made my 2010 college girl heart happy. He seamlessly was able to flow through different genres. He also dropped one of my favorite all time tracks Exploration of Space paying homage to legendary trance DJs Cosmic Gate but of course with a hard twist. I also thought it was cool that he played a remix of the theme from Demon Slayer which was a cool way to nod to anime fans. Even though I don’t watch Demon Slayer myself, as a 90’s anime fan it is always cool to see the creative intersectionality between electronic music and anime.
D-Block & S-te-Fan
The Dutch duo dropped our favorite crowd classics like Harder Generation, Twilight Zone, and Promised Land. After living in the Netherlands for five years I’m accustomed to hearing these songs but to see such an international crowd going crazy and knowing every word to every track was something really special to see.
Aftershock threw down a bootleg of Tiesto’s The Business, which I never heard before but was fun twist on the song I hear 57 times a day on the Dutch radio, now can never listen to the original again! He also played his new emotional track Million Miles which was particularly symbolic because not even million miles could keep us apart from attending Dropzone all together this year. The juxtaposition between this emotional track followed thereafter by Fight the Resistance Brennan Heart & Zatox shows the musical range that Aftershock has a hard dance DJ.
I will never stop writing about Sickmode’s sets because they will never stop being amazing. Insane, unpredictable, and unique are three words that come to mind when I think of this set. He played all my favorite tracks such as Too Cold, Club Banger, and Go Stupid.
Dither played the closing set at the opening party, and it was the perfect way to end the night. It was so cool to see everyone going hard and watching the sunrise as he dropped N-Vitral & Deadly Guns- Burn MF, the roof was essentially on fire as the sun rose upon the open air nightclub.
Always high energy from this Italian powerhouse duo but this was one of the best sets I’ve ever seen from them. With a mix of old school throwbacks and some reverse bass this was just overall a fun set from start to finish.
Sub Zero Project
The most memorable moment of this set for me was everyone going insane to Zombie Nation and We are the Champions with confetti and smoke coming down. I also appreciated that they played one of my favorite tracks Trip to Mars, that always brings a smile to my face.
One of the best sets of the week, although to be expected as Mish never disappoints. This high energy Australian firecracker lights up the stage wherever she plays. Dropping some 00s remixes of Hollaback Girl and My Humps took me right back to the days of bumpin’ and grindin’ at the middle school dance. Her set turned into a wild foam party that can only be described as pure raw insanity.
Vertile brought the extra raw to Dropzone with people kickrolling all over the place. The galaxy visuals during his set paired perfectly with the music. One of my favorite moments of the set was when he laid down Party at My Place- D-Sturb & Alee, everyone went ridiculously crazy.
Gunz for Hire
This set was intense! It was very extreme, so much energy, almost scary (but in a good way if that makes sense) at some points especially during Seek & Destroy and of course we all screamed our lungs out to Bolivia.
Headhunterz played a mixed set of his classics and some newer tracks. My favorite moment was when he played Our Church- Headhunterz & Sub Zero Project. This perfectly encapsulated the feeling that a lot of us hard dance lovers feel when we listen to this music especially after being separated from it live for so long, for many this was the first major event since 2019. An iconic track appropriate for the final evening of the festival.
The last set of the whole weekend Deadly Guns went out with a bang. Dropping Hell of a Ride (Official Dominator 2022 Anthem) Deadly Guns & Tha Watcher Ft. Carola and closed with some Uptempo, the perfect ending to the perfect week.
Dropzone was a marathon, it is certainly not for the faint of heart. With a packed agenda it was definitely a lot but it was so worth it. I cannot wait to go back and if you can’t wait until next July you’re in luck because Forbidden Island is coming up in September bringing you more hard dance to Zcre Beach, tickets are now on sale so get yours today!
I would 110% go back to this festival but I do have some feedback from an event organizer perspective and a visitator perspective.
- Transportation: as the shuttles did not run all night and the schedule was a bit confusing perhaps it would be handy to have pendle bus or a van that people can prepay for that will transport them from the apartments to Zcre and back. This can be additional cost or part of a package.
- Deposit situation: An email should be sent out prior to check in about all you need to know about your booking so that people can come prepared with cash for the deposit as not everyone downloaded the app (or even had data or Wifi to do so).
- The app: The app was something that seemed to be rolled out at the very last minute and although it was a great idea it could be further implemented to enhance the party going experience. One example is to add an interactive map of the clubs within the app so people can easily find where the clubs are or a find your friends feature so you can easily find others in the app.
So that’s all from me, if you want to check out more about Dropzone head on over to my Instagram at @mcunicornofficial and if you would like me to review your event send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.