Whilst petrol-bombs are thrown in the capital, Kala acts as a synonym for escapism. The coastal town welcomes this Western event with open arms and great pride, and Kala, in turn, puts locals on its line-up. The festival leans towards electronic music, which can easily be associated with rebellious youth culture. But what are they saying in a country that is experiencing deep political unrest?
Kala has already been compared to The Beach, Alex Garland’s ecstatic look at an anarchist community of Anglophone travellers living on a secluded island. But with government officials dancing backstage last year, perhaps Albania tries to harness a cultural shift to build financial stability rather than an idyllic escape. Organisers are fashionably eco-conscious, proposing carbon offsetting, reusable cups, and there are stories of last year’s last-standing clubbers doing early-morning rubbish picks on the shore. Even the stages were built from reclaimed wood. According to Resident Advisor, “The production had a cute DIY feel.”
This year, we are looking forward to sets by Berlin-based Hunee doing a five-hour selection; Honey Dijon, Chicago’s house icon and trans rights activist; San Soda, from Berlin, making chilled mixes, Vancouver’s Yu Su, whose EP Roll with the Punches out last month offers moreish experimental electronica; techno DJ Call Super from London, and returner Bjørn Torske, the Norwegian whose disco-house set last year at Gijpe Island booked him again for 2019.