My Rating of Defqon.1: 8/10. While the Dutch weather was a bit of a downer, as well as the fact that not all stages were active all 3 days, there’s nothing quite like 55,000 Weekend Warriors from all over the world united for the sound we love. Read on for my Defqon.1 review, 2016.
Defqon.1 has long been on my list of “To do”‘s. Thanks to Q-Dance’s marketing machine, the epic endshow of Defqon.1 on YouTube had been engrained in my brain since 2012. Back then, I thought there was no way in hell I would be able to last 3 hours, let alone 3 days listening to hardstyle. Little did I know that 4 years later I would be in the Netherlands dancing hard in front of its stages!
First of all, get your ticket, even if you’re just thinking about going. Defqon.1 always sells out a couple weeks before the event, so don’t wait. If you change your mind later you can always resell it on Ticketswap. This being said, I procrastinated on buying my ticket and naturally panicked when the tickets were sold out online (duh). I checked Ticketswap obsessively for a couple weeks before I was able to obtain mine for a slightly higher price than face value. Sigh. (If you have patience, you can usually find a ticket at a good price a couple days before the event starts. Usually.)
Your weekend ticket always comes with access to the campground. However, we decided to book a Bread & Breakfast nearby in the town Elburg (a 15 minute drive from Defqon.1). This is because I’m too posh to be camping. Haha, (half) kidding, I really just wanted to be able to shower comfortable, a warm bed, and no rain.
For me it was a good call – It is the Netherlands, so you should always expect some rain and cold. Over this weekend, for example, it was always raining during the afternoon (and sometimes heavily) and then the sun came out in the evening. Typical bipolar Dutch weather!
Besides being more comfortable, Elburg was a really cute small Dutch town, I loved staying there. We went out to town for a great brunch, and observed the whole town come together in a kind of “canal obstacle course” competition for children – children swimming, climbing, and sliding in canals all around town… Only in the Netherlands! If you stay at a hotel in a nearby town, you’ll definitely need to rent a car to get to Defqon.1, because it was really in the middle of nowhere. Traffic was never bad when we went and left the festival.
The festival was in Biddinghuizen, next to the Walibi Amusement Park. The event is on the gigantic farm island of Flevoland, which is a completely reclaimed Dutch land filled by landfills. Driving there, the landscape was really really beautiful, and you’ll never see a flatter land elsewhere in the world!
Camping at Defqon.1 and What to Bring
Now for the important part – alcohol. Your cars can bring whatever they want into the parking lot. When you walk into the campground there’s a check point, and you can only bring food and drinks on the first day (Friday). Furthermore, your alcohol has to be less than 20% alc concentration. So, we mixed half a bottle of Fanta with half a bottle of vodka (0.5*40% = 20% :D). In practice, when we walked through the checkpoint, I tried to show the security guy my bag, but he just waved me through. It really depends on who you get at the door.
In the campground, you can store your alcohol in your tent. However, going into the festival, there’s a second checkpoint. On the first day, they actually did the full search – bag search, body search etc. However, on the second and third day, they just had like 4 people posted at the entrance skimming people visually and doing random searches. So it was really easy to bring in alcohol into the festival. Even if they are doing the full search, 80% of the time if I just put my bottle of drink in my back pocket, they don’t find it. I’m serious! It’s totally worth trying (FYI – a mixed drink costs about 10 euros inside, purchasable via tokens).
What to Wear
How to dress – honestly, in the hard dance scene in the Netherlands, there is a cult-like culture where people usually just wear music gear (i.e. Angerfist shirts, Defqon.1 hats, Hardstyle hoodies). Q-Dance must make a killing off its merchadise, and many of the best stuff are sold out on the first day (so if you want to do your shopping, do it fast). Besides that, it’s all pretty casual. I would strongly advise against wearing shorts though – due to all the rain it’s very muddy in many parts of the festival, and the mud just splashes everywhere onto your legs.
The Defqon.1 Festival Experience
As a first timer, I was surprised that the first night (Friday) actually only is a half day and only 2.5 of the stages were open. The blue stage, which is the hardstyle stage, and the black stage, which is the hardcore stage. The 0.5 comes from the yellow stage, which was the “Silent Frenchcore” stage. People were given headphones entering the frenchcore stage, and Dr Peacock played some sick beats. I wasn’t a fan of the headphones thing, as it was of course not as good as a full-blown sound system. I want a full-on Dr Peacock experience! The hours on Friday were shorter too – it started at 8pm and ended at 1am. I spent most my time at the hardcore stage.
Saturday is the big day, where all stages are at full swing. The infamous Power Hour happened at 4pm-5pm. It’s an energy-charged hour during which Mc Villain hypes the crowd up while the DJ plays all the hardstyle classics at the mainstage. The mainstage was at full capacity. Floaty toys, bouncy balls, and giant defqon1 flags were all over the mainstage crowd. By all accounts it was epic!
A stage I quite liked was the Silver Stage – with Industrial Hardcore music. The stage was a bit hidden away, but I really liked how it had different music (hardcore with a twist) and wasn’t too packed.
It was raining on and off on Saturday, and the bars gave out free raincoats. Which means this was the scene everywhere:
As I mentioned, I smuggled in quite a bit of alcohol to the festival, so I got quite hammered on this day and my memory may be a bit hazy. We spent the final hours at the mainstage… ran into Fernando quite a few times (just follow the Chilean flag in the front row).
On Saturday night, there was actually a night party – exclusive for camping holders (not for Saturday day pass holders)! Festival ended at 11pm and everyone has to vacate the festival, but the night party starts at 12am, and only the blue and white stages were open again. The vibe at Blue was fantastic, probably my favorite from the day and everyone was dancing their heads off!
On Sunday, again all the stages were in full swing. I was in an exploratory mood and visited all the stages a couple times. Dr Peacock was playing as St. Benhard, in the Big Chill stage – he played a really chill and funky style of music. Quite a respite from the non-stop banging beats of the festival!
On Sunday I also got the chance to visit the first aid station, just for a bandaid. I have to say that all the swiss flags around the festivals were very confusing. We wrongly walked to two swiss flags thinking that they were for first aid… Why did they choose the first aid sign to look the same as a swiss flag?!
On the final 3 hours of the festival, all the music at all the stages stop, save the main stage, for the final showdown and endshow. As hardstyle enthusiasts probably know, Headhunterz made a surprise appearance in the Defqon.1 Legends set. Headhunterz was crying and people in the audience were also crying. A really rare heartwarming moment in hardstyle! However, no, Headhunterz is not returning to hardstyle.
Finally, it was time for the endshow and closing ceremony of Defqon.1. The endshow of Q-Dance shows, in particular Defqon.1, is truly the best in the festival circuit. Watch the video to see for yourself the kind of epic endshows that go down at Defqon.1.
Defqon.1/Q-Dance are undoubtedly phenomenal at creating their brand. However, I found it so amusing that the whole festival was full of Defqon.1 jargon like “Weekend Warriors”, “Survival”, “Dedication”, “Dragonblood”, “Unite”, as well as saying “Defqon.1” in between songs… If it were a drinking game for every time the MC says those words, the festival bar would make a killing!
Defqon.1 was a blast!!! See you in 2017!!
Liked my Defqon.1 review? Check out all my other festival & party reviews here.