May 6th saw the Montreal underground unite under the ambition Abandoned banner as a legion of local collectives and crews joined forces to present Abandoned Academy – a 24 hours experiential rave moulded within the walls of an eery lake-side boarding school.
Situated beyond the outer limits of the Canadian city, the collaboration extracted the local community from the downtown hotspots, opening to them an occasion that few had before experienced. Never did we consider that a school setting would be so aptly fitting for a gathering of this sort but the amenities on offer proved to be the ideal combination for a refreshing festival experience. The sprawling grounds offered a revered seclusion from the buzzing metropolis. The placid lake waters provided a calming vibe in the late afternoon as revellers embraced the grassy banks surrounded the central building.
The surreal outdoor setting was exploited to the maximum in the tree-cornered school yard, where stacks on stacks on stacks fronted the boom box stage. It’s enclosure made for a stellar sonic set-up and that in turn fuelled a vibrant crowd. As the sun came down the night took a darker twist with the influence of the accompanying lake now offering a more haunting feel to the affair.
The doors of the main edifice were opened and attendees streamed into the school’s burgeoning gymnasium, a long, monstrous hall, as if custom-built for the experience. An onslaught of house and techno boomed till close accompanied by a truly amazing performance of visual manipulation.
Raves at the best of times are a precarious endeavour. Like many events, it was hit by first time teething problems, mainly on the transport side. Bus cancellations sadly left a portion of people unable to attend. The biggest let down surely being their loss of what was a rare rave experience.
The local teams behind the event – including Husa Sounds, Front Rite, Octov, Ancient Future, 8day and more – put their neck on the line to building something extraordinary and it’s risk takers like this that will take dance music fans into a new era of happenings.
From a wider perspective, the When We Dip team witnessed first hand a rejuvenating and inspiring dance music gathering, where a boutique festival utilised an amazing environment to create a next level experience – an encouragement to us all to push the boundaries and dare to break the norms that society and, we ourselves, have set in events and culture.