Morocco’s Oasis: Into the Wild is for the real festival thrill-seekers

In its inaugural ‘Into the Wild’ edition, Oasis festival took revellers to the desert, and spotlighted some of the world’s premier techno talents, including Honey Dijon, DJ Koze and more…

In recent years, European festivals have become as ubiquitous on a Brits’ calendar as our own Glastonbury, thanks to the likes of Primavera Sound, Tomorrowland, and Turin’s Kappa FuturFestival. Still, unless you’re traversing further afield, there remains a dearth of experiential festivals for real thrill-seekers. Oasis, in its ‘Into the Wild’ iteration, fills that gap and more, without requiring a long haul to Burning Man. Since 2015, the festival has been based in Marrakech, but this year took revellers four hours outside to Ouarzazate’s veritable Hollywood: Atlas Studios, where epics like The Mummy, Game of Thrones, and The Gladiator were filmed. 

This may be an unlikely setting for a three-day techno festival, but it works. Rather than traversing fields, Oasis is more akin to a maze; one second you’re purchasing a beer amongst Hieroglyphic clad pillars, and the next you’re dancing at one of the festival’s three stages. Cleopatra, its largest, boasts stone steps and sphinxes that overlook the DJ’s while the cave-like Kasbah features immersive visuals cast across its cobbled walls. It’s a surrealistic feast almost everywhere you look; a champagne bar in a room that seems straight out of the 1942 film Casablanca and a souk, selling tajine, with low tables and pouffes to rest weary feet. 

Image Credit: @ysaperez

On Friday, local talent, including Draganov, took to the Agrabah stage to set the tone for a truly riotous weekend. Highlights from Saturday included an expansive set of bangers from DJ Koze, while Nabihah Iqbal threw it back for the millennials with deft cuts of Kylie Minogue’s ‘Can’t Get You Out of My Head’ and New Order’s eternal party-starter ‘Blue Monday’. 

The festival really came into its own on the final night, despite some initial disappointment that the XX’s Romy had pulled out of her headline spot last minute. Early on, Portuguese DJ Mafalda brought uplifting vibes to the Agrabah, before local talent Jitwam took to the decks and delivered one of the weekend’s strongest sets thanks to a much-needed dose of funk, soul, groove and disco. Jyoty only upped the ante, remixing Punjabi hits with dance-floor classics, while off the back of Beyoncé’s Renaissance, Honey Dijon, tore it up into the early hours.

Image Credit: @solovvvovvv
Image Credit: @hubble_photo
Image Credit: @solovvvovvv
Image Credit: @solovvvovvv

But Oasis doesn’t just begin and end with the music; there are also regular film screenings and panel talks at the Mbari house, as well as wellness activities including intuitive dance, yoga, and breath-work, hosted in a ‘Tibetan monastery’ replete with gilded bronze buddhas. And while there could have been more vegetarian options, for the most part, the food options were plentiful; from native tajines and sushi, to the usual festival fare of burgers, hot dogs, and chips. 

Ultimately, by venturing ‘Into the Wild’, Oasis has found its legs in its seventh iteration. It’s not for the faint-of-heart, sure, but those who make the trek out to the ‘gateway of the Sahara’ are sure to be rewarded with a truly unforgettable experience that can’t be found anywhere else. 

WriterNessa Humayun
Banner Image Credit@asianprovocateur for @wearehereandnow