Dour Festival: From Music Fan to Festival Insider

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Jan 2013 - Jul 2013
Dour Festival is a multi-day music festival held annually in Dour, Belgium, featuring a diverse lineup of international and local artists across various genres.


When I was 17 years old, I went to my first music festival - the Dour Festival, with some friends from Bastogne. It was the 2008 edition, and it was a fantastic experience that I will never forget. It was here that I discovered and fell in love with different genres of music, such as electronic music and hip hop, that I had not previously explored. Attending the festival became a yearly tradition for me and my friends.

Years later, when I was in my third year studying computer science, I was tasked with finding an internship. I didn't know where to apply, and I didn't think that I could combine my love of music with my tech skills. However, thanks to a tweet from the festival's programmer, Alex Stevens, I saw that they were looking for a developer for their ASBL, GOGOGO! It was a dream opportunity, and I applied. Two months later, I moved to Liège for a six-month internship.

During my time at GOGOGO!, I had several responsibilities. My first task was to revamp the registration form for the festival's volunteers. With more than 1,000 people working at the festival, it was essential to streamline the registration process. I also worked on the festival's internal management software, specifically the tool used to input all the information related to the booked groups, such as biographies, social media links, and images. This was my first time using the Zend 2 PHP framework, and I learned about the popular Model-View-Controller (MVC) design pattern.

I also had the chance to work on the layout of mailing lists and the sending of messages to tens of thousands of people, which was a nerve-wracking but enjoyable experience. I was also involved in other communication-related tasks. But most importantly, I was able to work on my thesis in the context of the festival.

pic by damien milan
pic by david widard
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Specifically, I worked on a digital access management system for the Dour Festival. The festival has a large number of workers and attendees, but not everyone is allowed access to certain areas at certain times. Managing these various access restrictions was complex, and the previous method involved distributing paper access forms to all the volunteers.

With the help of my mentor Alex, we came up with a digital access management system. I developed a cross-platform application that was linked to a physical barcode scanner. Depending on the person's location and the time, scanning the person's bracelet would allow or deny access to a specific point. I also set up a backend and web platform to manage these access points, as well as multiple events, allowing for reuse of the system. The mobile application was coded in Sencha, while the management platform was developed in PHP using the Zend framework. This final project earned me a high distinction, and I am still proud of it ten years later.

This project was a turning point in my career, showing me the numerous opportunities that computer science can open up. Not only did I have the chance to attend the Dour Festival, but I also got to meet some of my favorite artists at the moment. I will always remember attending Flume's first Belgian show from backstage, which was an incredible experience. I owe a huge thanks to Alex Stevens for his mentorship during the internship and the various projects that followed soon after. It was a wonderful opportunity to see behind the scenes of my favorite festival and meet passionate people who share the same interests.

Pictures by Grooveman, Mathieu Drouet, Damien Milan and David Widart

pic by mathieu drouet
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