UNUM Festival Shows Why Albania Is Europe's New Favourite Dance Music Destination

UNUM Festival Shows Why Albania Is Europe's New Favourite Dance Music Destination

The weekend crowd, a mix of people who have traveled across Europe, from traditional dance music hot spots like Italy and Romania to a mix of local Albanians and people from neighboring regions in the Balkans, were welcoming, open and friendly. "We make a [cheap] local ticket for people in the area, so we really encourage locals to go," says O'Halloran. "This year they asked me if we could set local ticket prices for people from Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, and I said, 'Yeah, sure' and having people from those countries is crazy."

And the influence of the festival and the local scene did not escape John Dimas. "It's something new for the locals, so they're responsive and non-judgmental," he says. “When I went to Tirana, I spoke to a part of the younger generation and one of the kids said to me, ‘I feel European for the first time, because everything is so far away from this festival.’ [Albania] is still a developing country, so that’s a very good thing and that’s why. Cause they're so open."

read more. ION Festival brought crazy energy to the Albanian Riviera.

While Corala lights up the main stage, the crowd at the Pine stage quickly fills up as Sonia Munnar takes to the decks, making reliable, cool take on techno house and minimalism, including a Frankie tune. Knuckles' catchy classic "Baby Wants to Ride" from Chi-Town. But while she was filming, word started spreading on the dance floor. Villalobos injured his back and won't play. Although it's disappointing to hear, especially for a pair of New Yorkers who flew in from the Big Apple specifically for the set, Argentinian Franco Cinelli didn't miss a beat, deftly mixing in some stunning deep tech before the group's closing track from 1987. House Baldwin's Don't Lead Me On The first mix of "Acid house" by Paris Gray.

After a charming three-hour breakfast by John Demas and while we leave behind Marguerite Degosse, who gave a walking show, after the tour, the festival continues with a program that lasts until Tuesday morning. This culminates in an impromptu and seemingly magical side-by-side performance between Deimos and Anthea on the London Underground. Deciding to change his flight at the last minute so he can stay and play, it is only fitting that Dimas is the last to board. “[He and I] have known each other for 10-12 years and are good friends,” says Daimas. "But it was our first time playing together, so it was great, [especially] closing the festival together.

He continues, "For me personally, the UNUM Festival is my home." “It helped me overcome some things about myself, and express my Albanian roots, so it helped me grow as an artist and myself. And seeing what all these people and the next generation are doing, it's amazing to see this happen in my country, because 40 years of dictatorship It is a great and great shock for generations.”

Isaac Mock is a freelance writer follow him on Twitter

Shock at UNUM Festival 2021 [full set]

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