As the sun rises over the eastern mountain range, UNUM Festival comes alive with the infectious energy of dance music enthusiasts. Against the backdrop of the wooded Pine Stage, John Dimas delights the crowd with an instrumental edit of Lee Marrow’s iconic track ‘Do You Want Me’. This magical moment captures the essence of collective festival spirit, where both the DJ and the crowd share an awareness of the extraordinary experience unfolding before them.
For Dimas, this performance holds a special significance as he spent his childhood in Albania before pursuing a career in music. Returning to his home country to play at UNUM Festival is a dream come true. The festival takes place just outside the town of Shëngjin on Albania’s northwest coast, in a unique setting surrounded by an old military zone. Despite the rumors of unexploded land mines and disused weapons, the festival creates a Balkan musical paradise.
Albania, once under autocratic rule, has emerged as a vibrant and democratic country. Its dance music scene reflects this newfound energy, with a tight-knit community of Albanians and Kosovans organizing events and sharing their love for music and dancing. In recent years, the Adriatic coast has become a summer destination for dancers from across Europe, with UNUM Festival leading the way alongside other pioneering events like Kala, ION, SISO, and Epizode.
UNUM Festival, predominantly owned by Kosovar-Albanians, aims to put Albania’s musical offerings on the map. The festival is more than just a gathering of music lovers; it strives to create a cultural movement and leave a lasting legacy of change. By involving local artists, UNUM Festival promotes the local scene and fosters collaboration between international and Albanian talent. The festival’s tagline, “Become One,” encapsulates its ethos of inclusivity and equality on the dancefloor.
With stages like the Beach Stage overlooking the Adriatic Sea and the Main Stage resembling a towering pirate ship, UNUM Festival offers diverse musical experiences. From sunny melodic techno to rolling tech-house, the sounds resonate through the day and night. While occasional technical difficulties arise, the festival’s commitment to high-quality sound remains unwavering.
UNUM Festival attracts a mix of attendees from traditional dance music hotspots like Italy and Romania, as well as a strong contingent of local Albanians and neighboring Balkan residents. The festival’s influence reaches far and wide, with attendees from unexpected places like Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. The atmosphere is one of openness, with people coming together to celebrate music, unity, and cultural diversity.
As the festival draws to a close, the Main Stage welcomes Marco Carola, one of techno’s biggest names, while the Pine Stage awaits the legendary Ricardo Villalobos. Despite Villalobos’s unfortunate back injury, the festival carries on, with talented artists like Sonja Moonear, Margaret Dygas, and Franco Cinelli delivering exceptional sets. The final morning sees a mesmerizing back-to-back performance by John Dimas and Anthea, leaving a lasting impression on both artists and attendees.
For Dimas, UNUM Festival is a personal journey of self-discovery and an opportunity to reconnect with his Albanian roots. It symbolizes the transformation of a country healing from a traumatic past and embracing its potential. UNUM Festival stands as a testament to Albania’s emergence as Europe’s new favorite dance music destination, with its rich cultural heritage and a promising future in the global dance music scene.
Written by: Artificial Intelligence Technology