Small festivals are able to create a special atmosphere through a combination of factors: special setting, a carefully curated programme, and a crowd full of unpretentious heads aligning for a weekend full of fun.
Nachtdigital, one such small festival in the bungalow village of Olganitz, has provided “festival solutions since 1998”, evolving over 21 years from a gathering of friends to a major name on the electronic music circuit. This made it all the more shocking when they announced in March that this year’s festival would be the last edition, Nachtdigital Mint. It was with this bittersweet knowledge of one last hurrah that 4,000 ravers made their way to Bungalowdorf Olganitz for the last dance.
We arrived on site at around 4 PM on the Friday afternoon, collected our wristbands and welcome packs before being treated to a free glass of jäger und limonade – the warm welcome immediately setting the tone for the festival. The opening ceremony was in equal measure beautiful and emotional and was soundtracked with an exclusive production by Vai.
Labyrinth Resident, So was up first on the Open Air Stage. He warmed up brilliantly with a blend of deep, atmospheric techno in a similar vein to his brilliant “Morning Transition” set from Nachtdigital 2016.
We then moved to the Tent Stage where the energy was as electric as it had been on the Friday night in 2018. First up was Vril, the featured artist’s first set of the weekend. Although it was far from the house set it had been branded as, he had the tent bouncing, limbs flailing and brows (mine included) sweating profusely throughout. Other stand-out performances on Friday evening came from Marie Davidson, who performed an exhilarating live show, and Bristol-based selector, Batu. In a recent interview with Lena Willikens and Crack Magazine he took pride in “getting people to those spaces where everyone’s dancing and the vibe is carrying it, but you actually listen to the music and you’re just like, ‘this is really weird! I can’t believe everyone is listening to this and not complaining!'”. This statement rang true with Lady Lykez’s dancehall bomb “Drmatic” receiving as rapturous a response as Murk’s bass heavy track “Alright” from the ‘Professional German Ravers’ in the audience.
Just after 7 AM the torrential rain subsided, and Job Jobse took to the decks of the Open Air Stage for his final set in Olganitz. The set was apologetically fun, and filled to the brim with trance and electronic music classics. The crowd and DJ feeding off each other’s energy to produce an amazing set that peaked with Bronski Beat’s Smalltown Boy.
Following Job Jobse we reluctantly dragged ourselves from the Open Air Stage to get some much needed rest, however only reached the toilet before recognising the laidback groove of Domina (Carl Craig’s Mind Mix). We returned the stage, one track led to another and before we knew it another 3 hours had passed! The confidence and raw honesty with which Manamana played kept the crowd engaged for the entirety of the set, highlights included Larry Heard’s “Deja Vu (Musaria Mix)” and Taking It Out For A Rip by Desert Sound Colony. Like Job Jobse before them, both DJs wore beaming smiles and danced for the duration of their set, living up each last moment.
Follow the link below to take a listen back to Manamana’s Mantissa Mix from 2018:
After a brief rest we were woken by “Techno Karaoke”, which was exactly what it said on the tin. Anyone who has attended Nachtdigital will attest to the festival’s unpretentious and silly nature – with last year’s “Techno Safari” through the local village being just one example. Having been given a new lease of life, we caught the second half of Powder‘s performance at the Lake before wading into the water to chill-out and soak up the energy of Gerd Janson‘s set which, as expected, featured plenty hands in the air and feel good moments.
Saturday evening’s most memorable performances came from Polo & Steffen Bennemann and Helena Hauff. Polo & Steffen Bennemann played their back-to-back at the end of the beach rather than on the Open Air Stage, with the lake providing a serene backdrop as the sun slowly set over the next 3 hours. The two DJs slowly built the mood, moving from deep cuts such as the Prime Minister of Doom’s “Truth Inside” to acid bangers, YUNG PRADO’s “Molly” being a particular stand-out moment. The lights illuminating the fog during Helena Hauff‘s set produced a haunting atmosphere, and a truly amazing spectacle. The Open Air Stage was the busiest and rowdiest it had been all weekend – which is saying something. This is a testament to Hauff whose daring selections and sublime mixing skills are amongst the best on the circuit.
After a quick nap, the final day began with Paquita Gordon, who kept the crowd on their feet through trance and progressive house in the form of Guy Sebbag & Gal Carmy’s “Vacuum Planet” and Christian West’s “Rotation”. It was a stark contrast to Paquita’s house, disco and funk filled set at The Lake at Flex and showcased the breadth of her record collection. Sonja Moonear closed out the Main Stage with 2 hours worth of weird and wonky minimal techno rollers – the perfect soundtrack for the remaining weary ravers looking to get loose in the final morning hours.
The last few sets at the Lake are always special, however the final 8 hours this year were truly something to behold. Heideglühen resident, Woody played one of the weekend’s best sets, filled with banging tracks such as Silk 86’s “Vince Charming and Laurent Garnier’s “Man With The Red Face”. Robag Wruhme followed with a sonically challenging set of melodic tech house, occasionally taking the volume down to zero before a flick of the fader would bring the music back in and prompt jubilant cheers from the crowd.
As we packed our tents, the haze slowly drifted over the lake and the “Power of Love” echoed throughout the site. MON (founders Leo & Michel) closed the festival with two hours of melancholy music slowly winding down proceedings. It was an emotional ending and a juxtaposition to the 46 hours of electronic music that had come before – a seemingly more private moment and goodbye for the veteran attendees.
To those who never went to Nachtdigital, I would describe it as a Summer Techno bootcamp. Despite the festival’s limited 48 hour duration, around the clock music allows ravers to enjoy themselves with a laissez-faire attitude, never rushed into thinking the end is in sight. The DIY decor, the way the sun sets and rises over the lake, the one-of-a-kind events like “Techno Safari” – where else would you find a crowd as enthusiastic. It is a truly a unique experience.
The average age of the crowd was somewhere around 30, rather than the 23 year old average you often find at UK festivals. Many of those attending have been doing so for decade(s), creating a strong community bond. Perhaps the increased international presence from attendees such as myself has led to the organisers calling an end to Nachti to keep the original vibe intact? Who knows. All I can say is I am thankful to have attended the Flex and Mint editions of Nachti, and hope the organisers launch something else in the near future…
Written By: James Acquaye Nortey-Glover
Listen to this YouTube playlist of our musical highlights from Nachtdigital Mint