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Lost in Trance - My Journey at Dreamstate Melbourne

Updated: May 28

For those that don’t know Melbourne well, Flemington Racecourse is a huge horse racing venue and is known, most notably, for hosting the Melbourne Cup. However, when the horses are off to Phuket (or wherever horses go on holiday), it’s used for music festivals and other events, as it’s a venue that's uniquely positioned so close to the city and public transport. As the eagerly anticipated date of Dreamstate drew near, I became fixated with the weather app. It was evident, as expected, that Melbourne had chosen to orchestrate rain just in time for our fun day at Flemington.

Being an astute, experienced man of the world, I opted to have one of our crew drive us in. We booked a room at Quest Flemington Central apartments, which is a quick walk to the venue and a perfect ending to a long day of partying. As is customary, we organised some pre-drinks. And as the apartment’s balcony overlooked the event, we enjoyed some pre-tunes, also.

After we got ourselves in the groove, we strolled down the street leading to Flemington Racecourse. A lively stream of partygoers was making their way towards the gates, and one thing was unmistakably clear – black is back. Almost everyone, around 90 percent of the crowd, sported black attire, be it t-shirts, pants, dresses, stockings, fishnets, bikini tops, or G-strings – all in black. Coming from the metal scene, where such outfits are standard, I was taken aback. The trance scene, in my experience, has always embraced vibrant colors and neon, so this monochromatic trend caught me by surprise. It thought I may have been a bit out of touch with the younger generation, but funnily enough I, too, found myself clad mostly in black.

After snaking our way down the long street into the Flemington grounds, we finally made it to the main gate. We showed our tickets, got our wristbands and in we went. The weather was overcast but warm with a slight breeze, so my worries about the weather were dispelled quickly. Inside the venue there was a black sea of young and old with the odd pop of colour here and there and no shame at all in showing off some skin. Good on the young generation. It’s nice to see that people aren’t afraid to be themselves, no matter what the beauty standards are–online or in print.

The event featured two stages, the smaller 'The Void' Techno stages and the main 'Dreamstage' which was predominantly for Trance. This was a huge, almost half-cylinder type construction with openings at one end and on the sides. This allowed you to enter at whatever distance you liked from the main DJ stage area meaning there was no need to navigate your way through crowds to access the front and you could just enter from the sides.

As this was mostly a day affair, the lighting and lasers hardly made a difference. But once night came, it was an amazing show. Coming from a Psytrance background, I always enjoyed the culture and focus on the visual arts as well as music, taking time to appreciate the artwork around the forests and areas near the dance floor. Unfortunately, Dreamstate did not deliver on that. The open areas for food and drink were somewhat sterile and there was no real sense of being transported to another place. That was unless you were inside one of the covered stages, but even then it was just lasers and lights with smoke. There was no artwork to be found anywhere else. I think it’s a missed opportunity if you want to host a world class event, especially if you want partygoers to have a great experience, as well as incorporate more arts and culture into an electronic music event.

As for the DJs and the music, it was all very professionally organised. The visuals did match the music, which was pumping out nicely, so A+ for that. And while some of the music played wasn’t exactly my thing, there was definitely something for everyone. The crew I was with liked Above & Beyond, while I was there to hear Vini Vici, which has that Psytrance intensity that I like. Vini Vici was arguably the best of the night for me personally, regardless of my bias. The music was fun and hard. He played a tribute track to the dancers of the Supernova Sukkot Festival who lost their lives during the October 7 massacre, and it was a moving gesture, reminding us all how interconnected the electronic music community really is.

As the day turned into night, we found ourselves knocking back a few cans, and it became evident that we would have to venture off on the long walk towards the bathroom, along with hundreds of other partygoers. This would become a regular occurrence all evening. The bathrooms were very far away, but you do what you got to do.

It was clear from the atmosphere that everyone was just happy to let loose, and the music was the catalyst to bring together like minded people who just wanted to take a break from it all. Little pockets of friends hanging out, giving each other massages, or just tripping out over those light finger glove artists who were walking around. But seriously, staring at moving lights five centimetres from your eyes may be tripping you out, or is it causing eyesight problems in the future? Or is that the dad in me talking?

As is often the case, unfortunately there were a few people who perhaps didn't know their limits and were stretchered away by the good people working in the medical bay. So, much thanks to the ambulance members, the police and all the security and staff working there. Everyone was relatively well behaved and the staff treated punters with respect, as it should be.

It’s clear that techno has become a new favourite in the trance scene, and we spent a good amount of time at the techno stage. We enjoyed not only the music, but the people who were clearly there just for techno. It’s fast, it’s hard and it’s unforgiving, in a good way. But, most importantly, it’s more about the music and less about a message or vocals, as is more the focal point in trance. This is why I like Psytrance, because it’s mostly about the music and it’s hard and fast. Which leads me to believe that a merger of sorts is happening between the two genres. I’m hearing Psytrance elements in Techno lately–and I like it. Fatima Haji was a standout, as was Space 92, and while I’m not familiar with most of the techno DJs, the music was excellent and the sound was nice and full.

After eight hours of dancing, as we were reaching our limit, Above & Beyond took the stage–after an intense and fiery set from Vini Vici which brought it down a notch to relax us, uplift us and spiritually energise us from the day that was. The music was soothing, inspiring and imprinted words of love and light into the minds of those watching the visuals as they synced with the music. It was a beautiful way to finish off the day, and everyone was thankful for the moment in time that we captured.

I had a great time at Dreamstate Melbourne, and, while nothing in life is perfect, you can make things perfect by employing stoicism and taking everything that comes your way as an experience. After this type of event and venue I’m looking towards a more outdoor event like the Esoteric Festival this summer.

My next event and article will be on Paradise Beach 2024 at the Riviera Beach Club, primarily to see Astrix, one of my favourites. Until then, keep on pushing for fun and make plans so that it comes to fruition.

Dreamstate Melbourne by Symbiotic Presents & Hardware Group AU was on Sunday, November 2023 at Flemington Racecourse 


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About the Author

Julien, a Melbourne-based Psytrance artist, embarked on his musical journey in the late '80s, mastering multi-track recording and immersing himself in audio production at SAE school. In the '90s, he embraced DAWs, creating electronic compositions on his Amiga 500. Actively playing electric guitar since 1988, Julien draws inspiration from guitar-related genres, infusing his progressive Psytrance style with a unique melodic flair. Today, he passionately crafts sonic excellence in his home studio, aiming for a Psytrance masterpiece that seamlessly blends traditional and electronic elements. With a background in classical piano and a pivot to the guitar, Julien values melody as the soul of music, promising an innovative and immersive musical journey that transcends boundaries.


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