Since its inception in 2004, Melt! Festival’s Sleepless Floor has passed into rave lore.

Many festivals would lay claim to capturing the freedom and subversion engendered in early dance music culture, but few come quite as close as Melt!’s Sleepless Floor. A 24-hour stage that runs the duration of the festival – a full 90 hours – its unique, anything-goes environment is one of the last bastions of club music’s founding principles: togetherness. It’s not just stamina-enriched partygoers who prize the open-ended approach to rave programming, but DJs too – many becoming de-facto residents who return year after year to play marathon sets unfettered by the usual constraints placed on a festival set. After all, towards the end of those 90 long hours, when the entire festival congregates at the floor for the final blowout, you never know quite what’s going to go down.

To celebrate the stage’s iconic status, we’re presenting some exclusive shots from the Melt! archive that capture its unique atmosphere. We also asked DJs who’ve experienced playing there to share their secrets and divulge what it is that makes Sleepless Floor so special. We got stories of missed rides, sleeping selectors and the enduring power of love and unity.

Kuriose Naturale

When did you first play the Sleepless Floor? What did you make of it?

We played the Sleepless Floor first in 2009, when there would have been two Sleepless Floors – the open air floor and an indoor floor in an old industrial hangar. Then, our good friend Empro curated the floor in cooperation with the bookers of Melt!. Our set started right after a huge thunderstorm and normally, the floor wouldn’t be open at this time but the speakers had to be used to avoid danger. Some minutes after the first sounds, people came from the festival site, dressed up with garbage bags, and started dancing. This will stay in our heads forever.

What makes the Sleepless Floor so special, do you think?

The Sleepless Floor can‘t be compared with any other part of the festival. It’s something like the black sheep or chaotic little sister. Melt! is kind of a big festival where everything has its order but the Sleepless Floor stands for itself and it’s like an individual festival within the festival, always on, always loud and just… sleepless when the rest of the festival site is taking a nap.

How would you describe the atmosphere to someone who’s never been?

It‘s really mind-expanding. You completely forget about time, space or anything else around you.

Are there any moments in particular that stand out from playing or partying on the Sleepless Floor?

Yes… I think after nearly ten years we finally can reveal the secret: in 2009 we drunk liquor worth more than €10,000, so it really went out of control…

Do you have any other stories or anecdotes from the Sleepless Floor that you would like to share?

Since 2009, we’ve played the closing set every year – maybe only Ellen Allien has played the Sleepless Floor more often. So, we really could fill a whole book with anecdotes but the story about our first closing set is a good one. We’d been around the Sleepless Floor the whole time and at some point on Monday morning Daniel Stefanik asked for the next DJ and the DJ was there – we can‘t tell you their name right now – but before he could start playing he fell asleep right on the stage. So, as the last DJs in a relatively acceptable condition, they allowed us to play the set until the other DJ woke up. After 12 hours we stopped the music and he woke up. Sleepless…

Sleepless Floor Melt
© Robert Winter

Rødhåd

When did you first play the Sleepless Floor? What were your first impressions?

I’ve known the Melt! festival for many years, but never played the legendary Sleepless Floor by myself. Playing there the first time was great as you had the feeling of an intimate, never-ending, ongoing rave in the middle of a huge festival setup.

What makes the Sleepless Floor so special?

As I said, the special thing about the floor is the atmosphere. As an artist you really feel connected to the crowd and even though the capacity of the floor is large, you still feel like you’re in a club context. I think especially the dancers and music lovers appreciate that a lot.

How would you describe the atmosphere to someone who’s never been?

Well, I played there a few years ago and can’t remember every detail, but looking back at all the videos from that day and night, it seemed we all had too much fun…

Sleepless Floor Melt
© Stefan Flad

Mathias Kaden

When did you first play the Sleepless Floor? Any first impressions?

The very first time I played at the Sleepless Floor was in 2012. Compared to the festival itself, with its big stages and the huge line-up, the Sleepless Floor is very small and has a somewhat intimate atmosphere. It’s purely focused on music.

What makes the Sleepless Floor so special, do you think?

I believe it’s the intimate atmosphere that I mentioned before and maybe also the beach vibes: the crowd is dancing on sand! All that, the small stage and the special decoration create a wonderful afterhour flair. I have the feeling that some people only come to Melt! on Sunday so they can dance on the Sleepless Floor. The acts and the music on the floor are very heterogeneous, a mix of many styles, which is exciting.

How would you describe the atmosphere to someone who’s never been?

The Sleepless Floor is a special place to get lost in time and space. I got lost myself a few times! The line-up is always great, from up-and-coming artists to the heavyweights of our scene.

Are there any moments in particular that stand out from playing or partying on the Sleepless Floor?

Each time that I’ve played has been special for me. The crowd has so much power, especially for a Sunday, and after the festival it was the perfect thing to do. Sometimes I got the impression the crowd was even crazier and partying harder than on Friday and Saturday at the festival itself.

Do you have any other stories or anecdotes from the Sleepless Floor that you would like to share?

In 2014 I missed my ride back home… It was so amazing, I ended up staying until Monday afternoon.

Tijana T

When did you first play the Sleepless Floor? What were your first impressions?

I first played there last year and it was also my first Melt! Festival. I was so impressed and I had such a beautiful time that I almost cried when it was over. I love the festival spirit and this get-together feeling and I felt it really strongly there.

What makes the Sleepless Floor so special, do you think?

The best part of the Sleepless Floor is that it doesn’t appear pretentious. Everything is in the right size and amount. The stage is not too big and programming is very much on point which is quite important for a party that goes on continuously. Whoever plays there, be it a big name or an emerging artist, is treated the same and there’s no hierarchy among the DJs. Everyone is equally important or well… not important. This makes Sleepless Floor an ego-free zone which always reflects nicely on the party. It’s a place where DJs are not beyond the dancers in the crowd and that’s very rare these days, especially at big festivals.

How would you describe the atmosphere to someone who’s never been?

Actually, last year I met some people who come to Melt! Festival just for the Sleepless Floor and that says a lot about it. It’s a club party within the festival, a bit more intimate and a bit more warm and loving. What I felt at that stage is this genuine rave spirit from the 90s when techno culture was still considered a continuation of hippy culture. I don’t want to sound pathetic, but it’s all about love and unity. Whoever is on the dancefloor is part of the tribe and we are all in the moment together, equally. This vibe is almost disappearing from parties and festivals these days and it’s nice to see there are still places which managed to nurture this approach.

Are there any moments in particular that stand out from playing or partying on the Sleepless Floor?

For me playing was pure pleasure. As a festivalgoer I wouldn’t miss Ellen Alien’s traditional closing marathon set.

Do you have any other stories or anecdotes from the Sleepless Floor that you would like to share?

It seems like playing there was one of the most important gigs of last year. Or the one with most impact. I still have people coming to me at parties all around the world and giving me little pieces of paper where they say they first saw me at Melt! and now they’re following what I do. “I first saw you at Melt and now I traveled from Hong Kong to Korea to see you again”. Crazy.

Sleepless Floor Melt
© Robert Winter

Catz ‘N Dogz

When did you first play the Sleepless Floor? What were your first impressions?

We played at the Sleepless Floor for the first time in 2013. It was daytime on Sunday from 12-2pm, it was super hot, lots of party people and a great atmosphere.

What makes the Sleepless Floor so special, do you think?

You can really play what you like and people react great, it’s a proper opener with crazy party people who love to dance. The atmosphere too, as it’s open all the time you can listen to special sets as DJs really prepare for this stage.

How would you describe the atmosphere to someone who’s never been?

It’s like the best parties in Berlin, where people dance and stay very long and you can really lose yourself. When we played for the first time we just stayed after our set and were dancing for few hours. It’s hot, dirty and real as it should be.

Are there any moments in particular that stand out from playing or partying on the Sleepless Floor?

Sunsets, sunshines, good soundsystem, great people. It’s just perfect.

Do you have any other stories or anecdotes from the Sleepless Floor that you would like to share?

We always try to play a very special set on stages like this as you can experiment more and play the tracks you can’t play anywhere else.

Melt! Festival takes place 14-16 July at Ferropolis, Germany

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