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What went down at the opening weekend of Caprices Festival 2022

Electronic music sounds so much better at 2000 meters of height

What went down at the opening weekend of Caprices Festival 2022 Electronic music sounds so much better at 2000 meters of height
Alessandro Bigi

Silence reigns supreme in Crans-Montana, except when one hears the sound of beats coming from the horizon, light and hammering, which crosses the streets where wooden huts are crowded and spreads across a panorama of snowy mountains. It was here, in this Swiss hamlet in the Canton of Valais, known for the quality of its air and frequented by the crème of European skiers, that the first weekend of the Caprices Festival took place, now in its nineteenth edition. The festival was originally born as a group idea, with the organizers who were and still are all friends - a sense of family that can be felt especially in the console, where the writer had the opportunity to exchange a few words and a few laughs with Maxime Léonard, founder and artistic director of the festival, and Aminata Kaba, coordinator and head booker, intent on celebrating and dancing together with the rest of the participants as jovial hosts together with the rest of that original crew of friends who had the idea of founding Caprices years and years ago. 

When we arrived, on Friday afternoon, after a 6:30 a.m. wake-up call and more than a hundred kilometers by train through valleys and mountains, Crans-Montana seemed almost too idyllic a town for such a famous festival. A rain that proceeded in spurts, indecisive, cooling the wind while to the panoramic balcony of our hotel came that very sound of distant beats that led one to wonder with a certain enthusiasm: «Is this coming from the festival?» After leaving the hotel and having a beer with Alice and Nilly, the two people in charge of the press, together with an English delegation from MixMag and another Italian delegation from MTV, we went to the Signal Stage, one of the three dancefloors of the festival, where Tale of Us were sending a human tide of young people into a frenzy on the dancefloor. In the table area, which this writer was observing from the side of the console, an avalanche of viveurs from Australia, Saudi Arabia, France, UK and every imaginable corner of Europe shared the same enthusiasm. Crypto traders mingled with Europe's jeunesse dorée while nightclubbers and international DJs exchanged high-fives, laughing and telling each other about their vacations in Ibiza. After a quick trip backstage to the Persian carpeted backstage, where a spread of fresh fruit on a tray reminded the DJs and organizers to take their daily vitamins, the group went to refresh themselves with a pizza washed down with red wine, before returning to man the console and consuming gin and tonics in tall, narrow glasses. The evening continued until five o'clock, and then dispersed into a series of private afterparties scattered in the various local chalets where the bravest stayed dancing until about ten in the morning. 

The next day Crans-Montana woke up under snow. Recovering by alternating saunas and dips in the pool at the spa of the Art de Vivre hotel, as well as with the help of a robust breakfast of coffee and pain au chocolat, the writer found the energy to go out in his puffer jacket and wearing sturdy snow boots, to take refuge in a restaurant and eat a tartare a few inches from Carmine Conte of Tale of Us, beyond a pane of glass. After a much-needed siesta at the hotel, spent listening to their neighbors, a group of five French guys whose laughter was almost louder than their music, the group dressed and headed off to the festival. Along the icy sidewalks, whole groups of young people clambered toward the large dome from which the music came. The headliner of the evening was Dixon, whose frenzied beats made everyone forget about the snowfall that blanketed the night. If the opening day had been relatively gentler, for Saturday night the artists and the audience had an even more electric energy and when, for the next DJ set, Annie Lennox's voice started to sing the first verses of Sweet Dreams over a devastating beat everyone started to sing and the crowd of young people and VIP guests went into a frenzy in unison. Everyone was dancing, smiles were exchanged between the tables while total strangers joked with each other like old friends. 

The next day the sun was shining in the sky. Alice and Nilly, together with the Beeheidi trekkers, took us for lunch in the mountains: after a walk through the snowy woods, we ate ham and dried apricots, drank an apple juice cooled in the surrounding snowdrifts and had lunch with a hot fondue prepared with local beer. After a cup of coffee and a taste of herbal tea made with herbs gathered in the mountains, we headed back to Crans-Montana where, together with the girls, we went up to the Modernity Stage, the Caprices' flagship location: a completely transparent stage overlooking the valley at an altitude of 2200 meters, in the middle of a dazzling expanse of snow furrowed by ski tracks. Dancing on the dancefloor, which felt warm from the intense sun and surrounded by a horizon of spectacular snow-capped peaks, there was a host of young people: it was a parade of sneakers by Off-White, glasses by Versace, scarves by Dior. A girl dancing at the console wore a Skims bodysuit with a PlayBoy tattoo peeking out from the opening on the back, a couple wore a set of tye-dye kimonos, a snowboarder with long blond hair wore a Prada ski suit and wandered around the dancefloor not at all afraid of his chunky ski boots. It's hard to describe the Modernity Stage vibe in words: it's not only an incredible location, but also incredibly chill, airy, full of light. There the party continued until ten o'clock, concluding with a set by Jamie Jones. 

Just during this set, the writer had to reluctantly get on the cable car to descend to the valley in the company of a Swiss crypto trader who was generous with advice on the best investments to make. The train to Milan was waiting - luckily, to go to Caprices, there is always next weekend.