Review of Dominator Festival: The #1 Hardcore Festival in the World

My rating of the festival: 9.5/10. At my first hardcore festival, ever, I went with low or even negative expectations. I was blown away by everything – the production, the music, and the crowd. My only complaint was that it ended too early.

I’ve written about Dominator on an iHeartRaves post in the hopes of promoting Hardcore – an under-appreciated genre of the harder styles – to the US audience. In this post, I’m giving a brief but more personal perspective and summary of what it was like to be at Dominator – the largest hardcore festival of the world. However, to read a more detailed account, please refer to my iHeartRaves Dominator post.

For those that already think that hardstyle is hard to stomach, hardcore is the next level up. Actually, listening to hardcore at home makes me incredulous about how I managed to stay 9 hours at a hardcore festival. All I have to say that great sound, first-class production, and a crazy crowd makes all the difference.

Let’s talk about each of them.

A Crazy Crowd

The crowd was predominantly Dutch and 80% male. However, other European countries’ loyal hardcore lovers were also present. I even saw two skinny Asian guys with a Japanese flag. When it comes to the harder styles, the Netherlands is the place to be. Hardcore is also known as gabber style music, and there is one standard way to dance to it: Hakken dance. I didn’t know this before I went, and had to learn it really quickly so as to not be out of place. Thankfully, the basic moves were not hard to learn. It’s basically bouncing up and down vertically alternating your weight on each leg. For those intermediate hakken dancers, you can add in some jumps and some claps:

When you get 45,000 people doing the same dance at the same time, it becomes an impressive hakken zombie army. As per usual rave fashion, the crowd was friendly, though it’s not usually what you’d expect from people who listen to this type of aggressive music!

A Great Sound

I thought Hardcore was just one repetitive sound. I was so wrong. Dominator had 8 stages that all featured different sounds of Hardcore: Frenchcore, Horror, Speedcore, Happy Hardcore, and many more that me as a Hardcore n00b doesn’t know about. I met a Belgium guy that tells me that he has been listening to Hardcore ever since he was 5 years old. He proceeded to educate me about the different sub-genres of hardcore.

I also heard hardcore mixed with Trap, Dubstep, and Drum & Bass. My favorite was the Chinatown Cruelty stage with had “Terror” style music. The musical styles were actually really diverse! This was a set I really enjoyed:

New Belgian friend at Dominator
New Belgian friend at Dominator

First-Class Production

Dominator is hosted by Q-Dance and The Art of Sound. Q-Dance, that hosts Defqon.1, Q-Dance stages, Q-base, and more is known for its amazing stage productions. I have been to a couple in the past, but never been to a Q-Dance hosted festival. I was stunned more than once by the elaborateness and quality of the whole experience.

There were motorcycle stuntsmen jumping over the DJ booth:

There were crazy lights and fireworks surrounding the stages:

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There were actors walking around the venue and interacting with attendees:

Actors in Dominator

Some of the stages…

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Going to Dominator felt like I had a whole new world opened up to me, and now I’m hooked! I love the Dutch gabber culture and it’s like I got inducted into a secret society. I haven’t felt this way since I first discovered the wondrous rave culture. How exciting is it that after all these years one can still feel like it’s the first time stepping into a rave. I encourage everyone to try out new styles of music, even if you’re not sure if you’ll like it. You just might be surprised!

Here’s the official aftermovie of Dominator 2015.

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Check out all my other festival & party reviews here.

0 Comment

  1. Well then, I hope to see you at dominator 2016.

    1. Didn’t buy tickets in time, but hope to be able to find some 🙂

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