Let It Roll Festival 2017 – Milovice, Czech Republic
We are laughing hysterically. Barreling down the narrow Czech highway, our mom van gently flirts with the center guard rail as my friend fiddles with Google Maps, finding our way northbound and leaving Prague in the dust.
Artsy is behind the wheel and Mike is in the passenger seat swiveled 180 degrees facing me in the backseat. All donning cowboy hats and large grins we are making our way to the small, inconspicuous town of Milovice for the sake of drum and bass (DnB) music.
We are here for Let It Roll 2017, the world’s largest DnB gathering to date. People come to see the biggest names that the genre beholds, the mad location 34 km northeast of Prague and bombastic stages named after factories and hangars. That’s all fine and dandy, but in truth, I feel most people are here for the massive rave.
Rolling into town, Artsy pulls a U-turn on a busy road right in front of a police checkpoint. Smart move, because we get pulled over and Artsy wins himself a free drug test. A healthy looking cop gives my friend what looks like a plastic toothbrush to suck on and we wait 15 minutes for the results to come back. This is typical for festivals nowadays.
The officer asks if he takes drugs. Artsy is drug free and replies “no”. The officer cocks his head and asks, “why not, doesn’t life get boring?” We ponder this question as he waddles off to pat down a Rastafarian-looking Czech driver. We roll onwards.
And just what kind of person goes to Let It Roll?
It’s the person that will pay 90 EUR to indulge in 3 days and nights of non-stop dancing to one of the most high-energy genres in existence. They are the guy or girl that will share their camp supplies with you simply because they are your neighbors. It’s the kind of person that is willing to drop all social constructs, all self-love of today’s society and rave like they are certain that tomorrow will be the end of the world.
You will find many people like this amongst the most eclectic group of people I personally have ever seen. DnB survives in a subculture that is more united day by day, while at the same time listeners have little more in common than the love for the DnB anthems played at this event. You are likely to hear them more than once.
We pass the pay gates and our trio immediately finds itself in the middle of a runway. An ex-soviet runway, Mike tells me. It was a Russian airbase that hosted barracks and several hangars as well as a nearby tankodrom, a sort of racetrack for tanks. In the far distance, past the caravans of food and drink and the throes of revealers, you see the main stage, green lasers shooting upwards from it, aiming into infinity.
Then you hear the sound
The driving mids and ribcage rattling bass. 160 beats per minute and up, man. This is serious, high-energy music that you have a corporal obligation to dance to. Your heart will race to catch up and your feet will carry you along the way.
There is no chill zone at Let It Roll. People don’t come here to chill. Even back at campsite Austrian DnB heads have full-blown sound systems blasting all day and all night. You pass out and roll out of your tent to that sound. You can sleep when you go back home.
The grand opening at 10PM lights up the whole airfield, revealing thousands of people. Trekking from the back to the front of the stage is the easiest thing ever. People allow you to pass as we prance and dance on by. There is enough room to shake and plenty of happy faces to greet. Not one selfie stick. No posers. No one standing aimlessly looking at their phone.
As far as the eye can see, thousands upon thousands of ravers throw themselves to the mercy of the beat. Some have their eyes closed in a state of self-reflection while others are dancing wildly in the arms of their comrades. It is moments like these I will look back and ask myself – can I get more of this?
Come morning. I roll out of my hot tent and into the morning dew only to notice a few things.
The German crew in front of our plot has vacated the premise, leaving behind a full plastic garbage bag of empty beer cans and a few broken chairs. During their all nighter they had laid waste to every beer they set their eyes on.
To the left the Czech ladies are working on a 9-liter bottle of homemade wine. They are playing the Chemical Brothers from a small speaker and are rolling around in a small kiddie pool, giggling hysterically.
The Spaniards to the left look like they haven’t slept all night and beckon me over for coffee.
So thus was Let It Roll 2017.
Tickets are already out for next year. There is some serious organization behind Let It Roll and the Underground Sound magazine gives a massive thumbs up to this festival. As our sore legs recover and we pick up the pieces from the extended weekend, we look back and thank the music gods for the energy and power they have granted to us. We live to rave another day.
Photo credit goes to Radek Hodes and other affiliates of Let It Roll.