It’s just a big disco...

A seaside town holiday camp in early January, you might think, would be grim. And you’d be right. But once a year Bognor Regis’s Butlins gets an injection of colour by a mob of house and techno lovers of all ages, all united by the fact they’re swapping the green juice for gin. Here's seven very important things we learned during our three days of confetti cannons, arcade games and lazy river mayhem at #BOW16.

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The Black Madonna is an absolute boss
Alright, so there's no way we could've made it to every single set at Bugged Out. But nevertheless Marea Stamper's performance eclipsed everything else we saw there - she had the whole dancefloor in awe of her on the final night, playing a muscular tech workout interspersed by breaks, Bowie’s ‘Under Pressure’ and even Missy Elliot's ‘WTF’. She bounced about on stage ('like a Pokemon'), and we don't think we've ever seen someone enjoy themselves this much behind the decks. Her's was an immensely hard act to follow, but somehow Bicep managed to keep the energy at a high for the final slot, taking things up with their edit of Michael Zager Band's 'Let's All Chant'.

Don't be surprised if you hear Artwork's voice coming out of a bush
You read that right: this year Bugged Out hijacked the speakers embedded in Butlins' foliage and lifts to play hilarious snippets of Art’s voice. These included: "What goes up....must come down", “Second floor: traffic wardens-only reggae afterparty, Floor one: basket weaving with Danny Dyer”. You could also have found Arthur this year at his very own stage - Art's House, dancing around with a bedroom lamp on his head, cloaked in reels of arcade tickets, playing musical chairs with his audience, or doing the running man to 'Come On Eileen' with Jackmaster at Splashworld.

A converted bowling alley makes a surprisingly good venue for weightless grime
Mumdance was one of the highlights of our weekender: bringing out zero gravity weapons in the form of an AS.IF KID remix of 'Functions on the Low' as well as battered, industrial edits of grime cuts including 'I Luv U', all while surrounded by giant novelty bowling pins. In fact, all of Butlins' corners make for surreal rave locations, since it's mostly one giant arcade. Air hockey, shooting zombies, and car chases: all great activities for those in-between set moments. It also meant you got loads of people dancing to nosebleed techno holding stuffed animals.

Bigger Than Jesus isn’t bigger than J.E.S.u.S
Who could be greater than the tour de force that is Jackmaster, Eats Everything, Skream and Seth Troxler, we asked ourselves, after perusing the line-up? No, not The Beatles, but in fact the first three, plus Armand Van Helden. Despite this seemingly outstanding array of selectors, the set they delivered wasn’t the most interesting of the three-dayer’s. Armand’s solo ‘90s-only set, however, was a ‘90s baby’s dream, with ‘You Don’t Know Me’ and his dark garage edit of Sneaker Pimps’ ‘Spin Spin Sugar’ getting well and truly spun.

There’s no better crew than Kurupt FM to have at a festival
Okay, so we knew this one from previous experience, but the pirate radio gang fully got into the Butlins spirit - raving at Art's house, meeting fans and emerging bleary-eyed in the pub next morning for a fry up. They infiltrated Centre Stage on Friday night, pulling out all the stops and Decoy dubs with Damian Marley (which got changed to "welcome to Butlin's") alongside all the classics and Playground Riddim. There was also - confusingly - a lookalike of Steves floating around the weekender (as well as Toddla T’s doppelgänger) just to add to their omnipresence.

Zero-degree weather and beach houses go hand in hand
This year Relentless brought a blast of sunshine to Bognor's grey shores by erecting a pop-up Beach House, offering cocktails, beer pong and an array of fine spinners including Roska, Kiwi and Barely Legal. While Bicep transported Butlins' ‘80s swimming pool to Miami for a couple of hours of disco sleaze with their Hot Tub Jamz - inflatable bananas and wave machine all included.

Papa John is a top guy
This isn't a sponsored post, honest, but the all-you-can-eat buffet should be credited with saving the lives of many of Bugged Out's attendees, for which the level of messiness was high - so high that we found a poo in the corridor of our hotel on the final morning. We love you, Bugged Out. Please never change.

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Images: Luke Dyson / Tom Horton

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