Putting Morocco on the Dance Music Map
Some iconic screen moments – in everything from Game of Thrones to Gladiator – have been filmed at the world’s largest studio in southern Morocco.
But this year the Atlas Studios, just outside Ouazarzate, will provide the backdrop to a different kind of cultural moment:
Oasis: Into the Wild dance festival.
International names include Grammy-nominated Beyonce collaborator Honey Dijon, German icon DJ Koze and The xx’s Romy, who’ll play alongside established and up-and-coming Moroccan DJs.
But while music has long been a key part of cultural life here in Morocco – including Essaouira’s Gnaoua festival, the annual celebration of Sacred Music in Fez, Rabat’s Mawazine and the Jazzablanca festival – dance music only firmly rooted after Oasis was launched in 2015.
Before then, Transahara had been held near Merzouga since 2002. But Oasis was the first of a new breed of dance festivals that are now attracting more and more visitors to Morocco every year.
The first edition in Marrakech was attended by around 2000 people. By 2019, a crowd of 6000 per day came to the city to party. After a hiatus during Covid, the festival relaunched last year as Oasis: Into The Wild and moved location to Dakhla, a lagoon town on a peninsula in the Western Sahara.
‘The idea behind Into the Wild is to explore different regions of Morocco through a musical lens,’ says Marjana. ‘Each edition is meant to adapt to the region in which it takes place and highlight its best qualities. As each region in Morocco is unique, so is each edition of the festival.’
This year at the Atlas Studios, festival goers will party amid huge stage scenes against a backdrop of stunning desert landscape views. In addition to the new location, the festival will also feature its signature mix of food experiences, cutting edge art and culture pop-ups, and an expanded wellness offering. Plus a cinema component of course.
It’s this careful curation of experiences that’s created Oasis’ loyal following. Today the crowd is a pretty even split between local and internationals, with 70% of festival goers aged 25-44.
‘Over the years, the festival has welcomed people from at least 75 countries. I can’t think of many platforms where Moroccans can exchange with people from all over the world on such a meaningful scale,’ says Marjana.
‘Interacting with people with differing backgrounds, lifestyles, and views is essential to creating understanding and acceptance, and travel is essential to personal development, as it allows us to leave our comfort zones and experience new people, places, and cultures. By creating platforms for human exchange, music festivals have the power to breed open mindedness, unity, and understanding among people. And it’s also a great party.’
:: Oasis: Into the Wild will be held 27-29 October 2023.
Find out more here.
OTHER FESTIVALS TO EXPLORE
- Dance among the dunes of the Agafay Desert as Black Coffee headlines the latest edition of Lost Nomads. Just 2000 tickets are available for each day. 1st September.
- If you like your trance followed by bed and a hot shower then Mogafest is for you. It’s on at the Sofitel in Essaouira on 6-8th October.