Review: Nic Fanciulli’s Social Festival 2017 brings a slice of Ibiza to the Kent countryside

The cool breeze of autumn was already sweeping through the Kent County Showground, as the final festival of summer The Social Festival got underway. Despite the nippy conditions, The Social kept all of its party-goers warm all through until Saturday night, like the last slice of Ibiza sunshine was radiating through all the good vibes.

This year marked The Social’s fifth birthday and it was a very happy birthday indeed. With the festival being so late in the year, it was always going to be a big, messy send off to the summer.The Social Fest 2017With the music starting at 12 midday on Friday, there was no question about getting straight down into the dancing and craziness.

After a career that has spanned over 20 years, the enchanting and innovative George Andrews got our party off to a cracking start at The Meadow Stage.

The Meadow Stage was, in fact, the only stage open on Friday night. Unlike the traditional festival stage, The Meadow was a giant indoor arena, which stood at the end of the long bar and rows of food stalls. In contrast to the chilly late September air, The Meadow was heating up, and Nic Fanciulli – the curator of Social Festival – was up next to continue the party.The Social Fest 2017After years of hitting the Ibiza music scene hard each summer, the DJ, producer and label owner always makes time to deliver at his very own festival brand back here in the UK. The classic peak of the heavy dance beats intertwined with the essential hit of the symbol, made for an electrifying set.

Friday at the Social was the perfect start to the last weekend of summer hedonism, as the Martinez Brothers made their Social festival debut.The Social Fest 2017Saturday saw all five stages open: The Meadow, The Caravan, The Barn, The Stables, and, last but not least, The Haystack.

My personal favourite was a toss up between The Stables and The Caravan. A stunning wooded area with disco balls hanging from the trees; intimate, yet big enough to house ravers as far back as the eye could see VS a funky little caravan – as it says on the tin – covered in neon paint and secluded in a wooded clearing.The Social Fest 2017The sky was fading to a murky, gun metal blue when one of Glasgow’s finest exports Jackmaster took to The Stables’ stage. Keeping the dance floor moving for the full two hour set, he kept one hand clutching his pint whilst the other hand was raised high in the air; eyes closed and enjoying each and every (expertly picked and mixed) tune. He plays what he wants, and god knows he plays it well.
The Social Festival 2017

Saturday night ended with almost too difficult a choice between Nina Kraviz, Jack Francis followed by Lewis Clark, and Sasha and John Digweed.

Settling on the latter, we made our way back to The Meadow arena to the deep, mesmerising sounds of two veteran DJs who know how to make the crowd throw their hands in the air. Sasha and John Digweed made for a fantastic three hour set and the perfect wave goodbye to summer festival season.

Words by Rhiannon Thomas