Blimey! Where do you start?
10 years of sunshine, love and dancing finally at an end and we're still reeling from another one of the best weeks of our lives. Funny how many of those “best weeks of my life” happen at a very same time each year. Garden was back, for the final time and from all that we remember - and all that we’ve subsequently recalled - it was the one to end all.
With all the Facebook-ness permeating our walls the past week we've found it difficult to make sense of what actually happened to Ransom Note last week but we’ll start by saying this; if you thought that the Balearic dream was dead, you’re wrong. It just floated down the Med and into the crystal waters of the Adriatic and washed up on the shore of a sleepy Croatian holiday town called Tisno. There’s nowhere else in the world right now in our most humble of opinions that you’ll experience something as powerful as what happens in that town in July each year.
A while back we ventured over to this Dalmatian coast after murmurings from friends whispering about a promised land where the spirit of the original Amnesia still existed. We’ve never looked back since. Ransom Note has, for the last few years, had the great honour of being invited to commandeer a vessel replete with music-playing equipment and take it out on Tisno’s beautiful waters. For this year’s voyage we brought our spoilt brother, Dance Tunnel, along for the ride.
Musically the last hurrah was as on point as ever. The beach bar was as ever the place to congregate during the day and early mornings for blissed-out ‘lilo sets’ and into the night for outdoor seaside mirrorball dancing. DJ Nature and Eric Duncan were the highlights for us down by the water.
Interestingly, the Olive Grove proved its worth this year. In previous years it’s been the tucked away stage - the token covered tent just in case it rained, if you like. But this year it made a name for itself. Pretentiousness out the door, 90s rave bangers, vocal disco and a shed load of pumpers in. Not quite sure what Bobby & Itchy Rich bribed the sound guy with but they somehow wangled the loudest volume of the festival. Hot, sweaty, fun.
The Boat party: Mark E, Francis Inferno, Dan Beaumont
Whether it was luck, careful planning (certainly not, we spent all our time trying to source plastic flashing maracas from various Chinese sources - Ed.) or “The Garden Sparkling” wine that did it, somehow we were gifted the perfect aquatic triad for this year’s boat; Dan “Lost my USB stick, only got a techno stick” Beaumont, Francis “Fanging it” Inferno Orchestra and Mark “Couldn’t play a bad record if he tried Merc” E on the Ran$om Boat.
Dan Beaumont & Fog Horn
Various rumours abounded of carpenters trying to make failed attempts at covering the “lethal spikes” on our original intended boat... but this meant we ended up with an entirely new boat to disco on. Martina’s Tour’s boat moored up at the Garden pier come Monday morning with a super-friendly crew, mixed with 2 - yes 2 - open top dancefloors and a massive fog horn. A highlight from the captain came when he made a vain attempt to partition the dance floor so he could see the front of the boat.
There’s an energy and excitement that a boat at Garden imbues. From the walk along the pier at embarkation, to the 4 hours of unavoidable good times and dancing, followed by a return to dry land with a mission to get straight back into the festival. It was handy that Jonnie ‘Optimo’ Wilkes was manning the main stage post-boat partyness and tearing a massive Glaswegian hole in it for us. Probably the highlight of the festival, bar the obligatory Mr Bassett-ness, Jonnie started with just ten people and ended with a heaving dancefloor. Nothing predefined, pure Jonnie Wilkes reading the crowd, ending - or pretty close to ending - on the incredible Eddy Grant Time Warp remix.
4 hours of perfection.
Optimo on the main stage
But enough of the partying… perhaps not but Tisno is also about eating, swimming and talking.
It’s a holiday first and foremost with a shit load of high grade raving thrown in.
So many festivals these days seem to pre-define their pace. Garden, in it’s magical and unique way, allows anyone at the festival to take it completely at their own (or not, naming no name;, Crack Mag Pirates). From eating in the myriad of amazing restaurants on the island of Murter - try the Octopus Salad again and again - recovering at inflatable waterparks, dancing 'til the unmissable sunrise rears its head, right through until it goes down again, you ultimately feel completely free to mix a holiday with a festival. This is also the beauty of Tisno; there is something in the water that means you could go out every night, GET IN THE SEA and start again afresh; fact. The waters around Tisno have medicinal properties; sort of fact.
And then there’s Barbarellas. As we’ve banged on about in previous years Barbarellas really does feel - we've been told - like the Amnesia that we sadly never got to experience first time around. To be in that club outdoors in the early hours in the already warm air is the reason why it’s great to be alive.
The last night with Mr Harvey Bassett was immense, obviously. How deep is your love? Haters gonna hate - as the kids say - but this was a masterstroke. Elsewhere, Felix Dickinson was ace on a night we can't even remember.
And there's cost. Yes we spaffed a small fortune but unlike a certain White Isle where you have to pick your eating and drinking battles for fear of mortgaging a kidney, you can literally eat and drink what you like knowing that a beer will set you back at an absolute maximum £3.
There is the fact you can’t help but feel that you’re in some way pissing off this beautiful little ex-fishing town on the beautiful Dalmatian coast but there is such a sense of welcome. From the restaurants to the taxis (on road and on water) you don’t feel any negativity towards what is, essentially, a wide-range of British party crews descending on their town. In fact, quite the opposite. And in many ways that is one of the very beautiful things about this festival. You go for breakfast, you go for lunch, you go for dinner with friends and head down to the party afterwards.
This is really what makes Tisno, The Garden Festival and the various festivals that Nick, Eddie, Charlotte & Gail oversee the site to so great: you’re not at a week long tear up if you don't want it. You’re on holiday in an incredible location, that happens to have a an amazing festival site contained within it.
To all the good stuff:
Crack having a distinctly pirate-y air to them amongst our many encounters, especially after the secret island party
Get in the fucking sea!
“Going out with a bang”? Going out dancing, smiling and laughing into the sunset.
Love International replaces the beloved Garden Festival next year. More details here.