The Garden, Tisno

The Selectors concept first came to life as a stage at Dekmantel proper.

Put in place to celebrate the craftsmanship and poetry of DJing, the Selectors stage at the festival’s flagship event at Amsterdam encapsulated the ethos of the whole festival – sidestepping convention with imaginative bookings and an encouragement for DJs to select and play freely.

Last year Selectors grew into a festival of its own on Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast. The charming site of The Garden Resort is now host to several festivals each year. It’s easy to see why – it’s beautiful – and true to style, the Dekmantel team made it firmly their own for the weekend.

A five day festival focused on obscure musical choices might sound challenging but we found a wide enough spectrum of approaches to the brief to keep everybody entertained – a perfect cocktail of variety and unfaltering quality.

Some DJs embraced the opportunity to steer audiences in directions that other dancefloors may shy away from, but there was also a healthy peppering of more straightforward stuff. Sadar Bahar played the beach stage as people arrived on the first day – soundtracking people’s introduction to the idyllic locale. Beautiful Swimmers, who closed the final afterparty at Barbarella’s, also came with some relatively accessible, melodic house which proved perfect for maintaining energy levels.

For the most part though, we had come to hear things outside of the regular. Jon K at the Voodoo stage certainly delivered in that respect, bringing together sharp industrial sounds and more delicate grooving tracks into one impressive and very danceable tapestry. Later that night Helena Hauff closed Voodoo, upping the intensity as only she can. Meanwhile Palms Trax’s closing session on the main stage, backlit by red trees and reflections off the Adriatic, was a far more upbeat and colourful package.

With three boat parties running on each day and all of them in high demand, it’s not always easy to make a boarding choice. We found the Sunset Boat to be the best bet – Ben UFO and Phoung Dan’s session in particular. Dan brought a broad selection of music, lifting from Middle Eastern disco and South East Asian sounds while Ben UFO delivered more of a garage-indebted mix on the boat, before drawing on more gritty, techno-leaning rhythms on land a few hours later.

The fact that Dekmantel have managed to identify and extract one element from their main event and create a fully fledged new experience speaks to the remarkable vision they’ve had since day one. The exotic choice of location also does them a lot of favours. Selectors creates a warm sun-drenched environment in an intimate setting where DJs can truly be adventurous, expanding each other’s horizons as much as their audiences’. This is not only hugely enjoyable to witness but, surely, benefits the scene at large.