“There’s a big buzz in England about Croatia being the next Ibiza. So, we’ll see. We’ll see tonight.” – Fatboy Slim, Dj
Rhythmic dancing to the beat of foreign electronic music, copious amounts of alcohol and activities around the clock all point to one thing: the most outrageous beach party in Croatia.
Zrće, on the Island of Pag, just a short while away from the popular tourist town of Novalja the nearest Zadar Airport, is home to an energetic party scene. Some of the clubs on the island are even equipped to accommodate 5000 drunken partygoers at a time and this has resulted in a widespread reputation among people from all over the world.
From April to September, tourists celebrate under the boiling summer sun, dancing to loud house music that can even be heard on the mainland of Croatia. The beach is crowded with topless youngsters, who hop around with cocktails in one hand and cigarettes in the other. After sunset, the crowd moves to one of the four nightclubs for the ‘after party’, continuing the fun until noon.
Every year, several concerts and festivals are organized in Zrçe, with headliners like Snoop Dog, Calvin Harris and Armin van Buuren. “It’s very simple; the reason why I keep coming back is because there’s a great crowd here. I’ve been coming here for the third year now and the people are fantastic,” says world-renowned DJ Armin van Buuren, who has become a regular performer on the Croatian party scene.
However, the more controversial activities that go on during these festivals are swept under the rug. On several occasions, the fervent spread of sexually transmitted diseases was reported, as well as the presence of many drug dealers and numerous drug and alcohol overdoses.
The reason behind all the taboo could be the fact that in the last fifteen years the Croatian economy has been depending on tourism, foreign investors and the construction of new hotels and suites. Ivan Dabo, the mayor of Novalja, the town to which Zrće belongs to, says: “We are a touristic destination, it’s a philosophy of living. We live for tourism and of tourism.”
Despite the issues that clearly still need to be addressed, this Croatian party district has grown more and more popular in the last few years and seems to be on everyone’s ‘must go’ lists for the summer months. However, time will only tell if these concealed problems will prevent Zrçe of becoming an even bigger international party destination in the future.