The Garden, Tisno

There was a sense of humanity at Love International that complemented its weighty line-up.

A palpable feeling of excitement that could be felt on location, an eagerness for the return of the festival’s typically hedonistic parties. Only, this time, it felt even greater due to Love International’s three-year hiatus and the apocalyptic news cycles the world has experienced in between. Celebrating freedom is the ethos that lies at the very heart of Love International, and this year, it seeped into every corner of the Croatian festival; from its diverse booking policy, to an increasingly larger queer audience, and the relaxed atmosphere onsite. Here, exploratory abandon was not only celebrated, but encouraged. The festival’s long hours tested even the most seasoned of ravers, and throughout, it remained rooted in a sense of care. From conversations with strangers that elongate because the site remains consistently open, to running times that would test the most hardened party goer – one person’s weekend might be in total musical contrast to another’s, but the commonalities that stay the same are rooted in company and cutting seriously loose.

On the Saturday night, segueing into Sunday morning, we marched back into Tisno after a joyous eight-hour set fronted by SASS (aka Moxie, Shanti Celeste, Peach and Saoirse). Their set in the Olive Grove was met with reverence from the crowd, and marked itself out as a weekend peak for the festival and undoubtedly one that will be talked about for years to come. As 300 or so people remained dancing at 10am, the four DJs crowd surfed into the audience. Some party-goers were visibly moved to tears from the energy, friendship and impressive breadth of music on show from four of the most likeable and talented DJs operating in the scene today. It was a stellar piece of programming from the team behind the festival.

The Garden site distinctly benefitted from later running times, which made leaving it difficult. In previous years, crowds would collectively rush off to head to Barbarella’s – a club situated away from the main site. A little less so this year as the festival hosted standout sets from the likes of Roza Terenzi, Midland, Artwork, Gideön & Tristan Da Cunha, Prosumer and Vale Budino which made it very hard to leave the premises. The Olive Grove felt especially intimate this year and leaned more towards the esoteric side of dance music. The Crack stage on Sunday was an energy-filled affair with fans of Objekt and Call Super not disappointed by the varied BPMs, lethal mixing and jungle-soaked finale. Equally, the b2b from Vladimir Ivkovic and Ivan Smagghe on Monday brought out more off-centre selections, complemented by a Cocteau Twins closer.

Barbarellas found its flow later in the festival’s week with the now customary Sunday offering from Craig Richards – who had Ben UFO in tow for his wiggier end of the techno workout. A three-way debut – Antal, Hunee and Palms Trax – was also a highlight for many, as exemplified by the record pre-sales for the club and a rammed floor until 6am.

Beyond the music – from the conversations amidst the greenery, to chance meetings and newly-formed friendships – Love International was a space for both hedonistic and restorative moments. As the final two boats set sail for its secret island day closer, it became clear that, despite a three-year hiatus, there still remains an enchanting ley line of Adriatic magic at Tisno. Love International’s 2022 chapter proved its remedial party spirit still very much remains intact.