Laura Zuanella packed her bags for Bognor Regis for a weekend of nonsense led by Artwork, Erol Alkan, Bicep, Jackmaster and more.
Date published: 21st Jan 2016
Image: Luke Dyson
For most revellers, after New Year's Eve there are few dates marked on the January page of the calendar. It's a time to recuperate and resist the rave, but for the Bugged Out Weekender, they can make an exception.
We saw the mighty return of the established clubbing brand's annual festival at the Bognor Regis British holiday resort. The Weekender, now in its fifth year, has played host to some of the biggest names in dance since its inception, including 2manyDJs, the late great Frankie Knuckles and Bugged Out alumni The Chemical Brothers.
When making our way through the Butlins site to the arenas it's difficult to forget its usual occupants. Usually the resort would be swarmed full of families heading to the beach in the daytime, playing on the arcade games (like Skream below) and taking part in family-friendly entertainment in the evening, but instead this weekend provided a cocktail of serious debauchery for the pleasure seeking raver.
Image: Luke Dyson
Friday night saw the extravaganza kick off in true hedonistic style in the intimate surroundings of The Escape Room with a little help from Erol Alkan, who is no stranger to the weekender.
As expected the set was full of electro classics, that included the likes of Glenn Underground's infectious Donna Summer/Giorgio Moroder mash up 'I Feel Dub' and KiNK's banging remix of Gingy and Bordello's track 'Body Acid'.
Carrying on with the pulsating beats were Paranoid London, who showcased their energetic live show that comprised of recent club friendly tracks 'Eating Glue' and 'Transmission 5'.
After getting caught up in the raucousness, we headed towards Room 2 for Gerd Janson and Joy Orbison's epic back to back. The enigmatic session included a set list of funk-laced anthems and Alan Braxe's french house staple 'Intro' (below) which proved to be one of the highlights.
With the excess of the first night diminishing, it was time to head to Artwork's special after hours club - Art's House. A bar area was transformed into a living room, catering for the still 'up for it' club heads until the very early hours of the morning throughout the weekend. The eclectic selector's affair saw a variety of classics churned out including Fleetwood Mac's end of the night melody 'Dreams'.
On the Saturday afternoon we made our way to the pool area, which was complete with a number of slides, water rapids and even a wave machine for those wet and wild party animals. Here is where we caught Jackmaster's Tweakaholic pool party, which saw the Glaswegian party boy play a special back to back with regular partner in crime Artwork.
Image: Tom Horton
The cheeky chaps dropped a wide selection of club anthems from yesteryears, ranging from the likes of Technotronic's 'Pump Up The Jam' all the way to late nineties garage favourite Double 99 'Rip Groove'.
Later on in the evening we checked out Armand Van Helden in the main room, who tore the roof off with a set consisting of his own party-starting jams, finishing his mix with the staple tune 'U Don't Know Me. Joining Van Helden afterwards was Jackmaster, Eats Everything and Skream for special Bigger Than J.E.S.u.S performance.
The super group spun a selection of filthy vibes consisting of Outlander's old skool shaking 'Vamp' and Junior Jack's Ibiza banger 'Thrill Me'. It was then back for a second helping at Art's House for surprise sets from Jackmaster, Jonas Rathsman, Skream and Bugged Out's very own Johnno who played beyond the crack of dawn to the messy masses.
The final night saw a stand out set from The Black Madonna. With sweaty revellers hungry for more indulgent tracks, the insanely diverse set list included a unique mixture of riotous tracks, ranging from the likes of Brodinski's melancholic remix of DJ Mehdi's 'Pocket Piano' (below) and Green Velvet's fist pumping 'Lazer Beams'.
Rounding off the weekends festivities were Bicep, who played a blinding finishing set to signal the end of the shenanigans that went on an hour longer than scheduled. They started off with the exceptional 'Sanctified' from fellow Irish newcomer Hubie Davison and continued to play a bunch of heavy hitting beats until very the end.
The Weekender is three days of lovable mayhem. The combination of Butlins chalets, raucous pool parties and afters in Artwork's 'house' is something that only Bugged Out could pull off, especially mid-winter. We're already gearing up for next year.