Malasimbo Lights and Dance Festival

When I arrived in the bustling city of Manila, after ten weeks without a proper night out, I was more than ready for a dance and, after doing a bit of research, I found the perfect place: Time. Time is a small, understated club that caters to those with a penchant for underground House and Techno. It was there that I met the lovely Mica, who DJ’s regularly at the club, and she told me about a festival on the island of Puerto Galera called Malasimbo Lights and Dance. It sounded like it would be right up my street, so along with my travelling buddy Max, I bought tickets and went along.


The festival from above

During a hearty dinner at an Italian restaurant on the island, we befriended one of the staff members, who offered to drive us to the festival free of charge (thanks Fabio!) Ali, Mica’s boyfriend, came and met us and took us down to the silent disco, where Mica was due to be playing. We had to spend a few minutes admiring the view from the top first though, as it was truly spectacular, with all the different coloured lights and strange, trippy decorations hanging from the trees. It had been ages since I’d gone to a silent disco, and from what I remember, the music was always pretty cheesy no matter which channel you were tuned in to. However, this was different; we were treated to Soulful House and Disco from Mica and her partner Matt, and Deep House and Techno from Knoxville, the other guy manning the decks. In addition, we were given awesome glowing blue and green headphones, making it all the more entertaining.


A whirlwind of neon blue and green at the silent disco

At one point, we decided to go and explore the festival and came across a stand offering free Polaroid photos and henna tattoos, which was pretty random, but I’m not one for turning down anything that’s free, so we went along with it. They asked us to strike a pose and I went for the wheelbarrow, which just happened to be the first thing that came into my head, and which had us both giggling like children. After that, we had a look at what was going on at the main stage, which was surrounded by terraces across which people were lying and enjoying the music. When the time came for the next two DJs to take the decks, people started getting up and dancing. It was impossible not to; they were so good! We stayed there and danced until the end of their set, whilst trying to guess where they were both from (I later learned that their names are Emel Rowe and Mikail, and they’re half-Filipino, half-Australian and half-Filipino, half-German respectively). Definitely ones to keep an eye out for.


Our free Polaroid (terrible quality, but you get the idea)

Day 2 of our Malasimbo experience managed to outshine the first day, and this time we kicked things off in true style at a warm-up party in a beach resort, which had been organised by one of the DJs. The afternoon consisted of sunshine, dancing and good music and needless to say, everyone was in pretty good spirits by the time we left for the festival. We enjoyed some very impressive fire dancing at the main stage, then it was straight to the silent disco, where Ouissam, the founder of Hong Kong-based record label Cliché Records was playing. He was up against a turntablist, whose music could not have been more different, and it was hilarious to see the crowd move in such conflicting ways to the two genres. By this point, we had befriended a group of Ouissam’s friends and followers, all of whom had accompanied him on the trip from Hong Kong. Most were French and each and every one of them was totally crazy (in a good way of course).


Dancing by the beach

After an hour or so of playing, the two men put down their headphones and there was no music at the silent disco after that, which was unfortunate, as the noise coming from the main stage was fairly abysmal. Thankfully, Max and I managed to escape with two of the French guys, Vincent and Francois, who took us up into a tree house where the music wasn’t quite as invasive. We spent quite a while up there, chatting and laughing over silly things and creating ‘good vibes’, in the words of Vincent, before rejoining the others down below. At around 1am, San Soda, another Cliché artist, took to the main stage and played a fairly varied set consisting mostly of House and Techno, which slowly brought the crowd back to life. He was followed by Sweet Talk, a multinational trio also signed to the label (all the best artists at the festival are it appears) and they kept everyone going until the early hours.


Main stage at Malasimbo

Just before 6am, the generators conked out and we were left without power, something which I’m quite used to happening by now, but it didn’t make the disappointment any less great; I wasn’t ready to leave Malasimbo! Max and I tagged along with the Cliché crew, who were staying at a magnificent 5* resort with the most incredible view over the bay and surrounding jungle, which we stayed to admire until tiredness eventually got the better of us and we returned by trike to our accommodation. The Cliché boys will be playing again towards the end of April in Hong Kong to celebrate the record label’s 4th anniversary, which I’m sorely tempted to go along to… watch this space.