Already a mecca for tourists seeking fun in the sun, these days Aruba is refining its experiences to suit a more festival savvy demographic. The Love Festival brought together locals and dance music fans to the white sands of Eagle Beach for a 3-day ocean-side party that was the epitome of boutique.
Movers and shakers on the ground in Aruba have been championing the island as the new Ibiza, and it stands to reason since it is close enough to the United States to become a viable option.
Crystal clear waters, white sandy beaches and a wildly under-utilized infrastructure of gorgeous properties that easily accommodate party-goers and events alike make Aruba a clear contender for the festival-sets tourism dollar.
The Aruba Tourist Authority recognizes the potential of hosting music events and has been a staunch supporter of the cause giving marketing and financial support to help bolster Aruba’s economic footprint on the global electronic music landscape. It seems to be working if The Love Festival is any reflection of success.
Boasting a three-day program running from 3PM to 3AM on Friday and Saturday and closing at midnight on Sunday, The Love Festival took an ambitious bite from dance music’s apple and it seemed to pay off. Small by US standards, the festival hosted roughly 3000 people each night with Saturday’s event bringing in a slightly larger crowd of 3500. As of press time, final counts were not available to us. Mainstage talent ranged from hard EDM to tribal house music- replete with live bongos from female talent Gioli, and the techno stage that featured solid sets from the likes of Saeed Younan and Riot Gear b2b with Christopher James. The third stage waxed and waned with the majority of interest and influx coming from an intense trap set from one of Aruba’s local heroes. The festival also made excellent use of the grounds, you can’t get more of an island vibe than being on the beach with boats anchored 20 feet off shore and the sound of ocean waves crashing between musical crescendos. Pretty spectacular to spend the entire three days with no shoes on, dancing around on soft white sand.
As a seasoned festival attendee, I was struck by the way in which we (and by ‘we’ I mean those of us who are exposed to the more corporate mega-festival) have become accustomed to production and a ‘show.’ Not an experience from DJs and music they play, but a spectacle of production that overrides anything else. The Love Festival, I have to admit, was simple in its delivery – after all, being on an island, resources we take for granted like staging and LED rentals are next to impossible to source. Putting on a production without the luxury of island-based back and front of the house support is a feat in and of itself. But the Love Festival pulled it off, and did so with style.
The festival certainly delivered on many levels and I loved the welcoming attitude that the people of Aruba all share. It is nice to be in a place where you feel welcome, even once outside the comfort of the festival gates.
Aruba and The Love Festival are doing it right by creating a festival friendly island that actually encourages us to have fun and leave with a big smile. Who knows, maybe this is the beginning of an Ibiza alternative- sans the attitude.