words by Natalia Morawski

When you think Rio, you think colour, heat, carnivals, ridiculous fun and a hell of a lot of dancing.

Though it rained relentlessly, and your shoes went from wet to squishy very quickly – RETURN to RIO was still the kind of fun that any festival with the name Rio permits.

RETURN to RIO is an adult playground (and I mean that literally, there is a playground, swimming and wading pool). Soft toy flowers adorn every corner of Del Rio, the trees have crazy eyes and big, pouty lips, and giant inflatable noodles and animals smile down at you while you take in the music.

And yes, while this sounds like a wonderful trip, it’s indeed all real; the amount of detail and character that adorns the festival, really distinguishes RETURN to RIO.

But it’s the people too. Costumes saw no limits. LED body suits, swarms of glowing jellyfish and a lot of men in tights. While the weather was grey and dreary, people painted the festival with so much colour and vivacity, it never mattered.

Having said that, RETURN to RIO is not a chaotic festival, it’s been well organised to be a smooth, no-fuss weekend away — and that is partly responsible to the size of the festival; two stages, a few food stands and bars, and it’s enough. Unlike other festivals you’re not fighting crowds or wasting precious party time in demoralising queues. That’s the beauty of boutique festivals.

And the music? An impressive and skilled line up will do the trick, but what really gave RETURN to RIO the extra charm were the Funktion One speakers — loud and uncompromising. Soul Clap DJs were the stand out, playing a luscious and jovial three hour set. The two stages struck a palatable balance, with the smaller stage sending out disco and lounge electronic beats, while the main stage pulsated with harder and sometimes darker, grime electronic tracks, notably from Nicky Night Time.

It’s only a shame the Rio gang can’t extend the music set times to well…all night. Music finished at midnight on the Friday and Saturday night and with everyone in high spirits and ready to continue – it just felt wrong.

Fortunately, all you had to go was follow an eager and friendly crowd to one of the large cabins for the “after party”. With furniture gone, and people filling every corner and hallway, it felt more like a crowded warehouse rave then a cabin party. And the spread of lush, green valley surrounding the cabin made it feel all the more like a weekend, far, far away…

For those wanting to relive the weekend’s shenanigans, you can do so this Saturday night at Rio Recovery;

WHAT: Rio Recovery
WHEN: Saturday 21 November
WHERE: Factory Theatre, 105 Victoria Road, Marrickville NSW 2204
WHO: Soul Clap, Secret International, Matthew Dekay, Hoj, Alan Thomas, B__A, Mantra Collective, Monkey Tennis, Murat Kilic, Nick Law, Ricky Cooper, Sampsonite, Start:Cue; Tristan Case
HOW: Tickets: http://www.factorytheatre.com.au/events/2015/11/21/rio-recovery

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