Posted by: pascoesabido | January 5, 2009

Tracksuits & Techno on NYE

Eastern Electrics NYE @ Great Suffolk Street Car Park, London – Wednesday 31st December 2008

Written By: PascoeSabido

New Years Eve? Always a nightmare, always loads of pressure, never quite what you were hoping for – if you hang around with me anyway, turning up to raves a split second after the boys in blue, getting lost in European cities.

However, NYE 2008 had all the hallmarks to buck the oh-so-evil trend: Eastern Electrics organising the biggest show-stopper this side of the channel. Not one party, not even two, but three; three promoters each bringing their own sound, each capable of throwing a wicked party unassisted, but all kindly getting together in an orgy of sexy sounds and bubbling beats (no, not R’n’B). Man Make Music were charged with the first room, bringing with them their rather naughty reputation in the warehouse department; mulletover – whose nous for a good time is given and on display once more on the 31st for yet another banging ‘secret location’ warehouse party – had the middle room, headlining with M.A.N.D.Y.; and Tayo, with Serge Santiago in tow, transported his legendary tracksuit party to room three.

And all that announced with the venue still TBC – a ‘secret warehouse’. There were a few pessimists/chiefs who, via a certain web forum, tried to rain on the parade before it even got marching – claiming all we were getting was a ‘vaguely distorted beat in a freezing shitty warehouse’, slating mulletover parties, and laughing at us for not going to Berlin. Well I never. I wonder how comfortable it is to have your head surgically lodged up your own arse with only a miniature model of the Panoramabar for company? Shame on you.

However, give all three a space in the Great Suffolk Street car park – a tried and tested warehouse-extraordinaire – and my god, what a rave. For those who have never been, a car park makes it sounds open and cold, but in fact it’s three connecting-but-separate railway arches – tunnels if you like – with brilliant acoustics, enough heat to keep you warm, but not too much to sweat on the spot. It being a car park is criminal – a space like that should be a club 365 days a year, especially when it’s two minutes walk from Southwark tube. But alas it’s not, so all the more reason to rejoice for New Year – and laugh heartily at the naysayers even if they can’t hear you (too busy examining their tattoos).

A very convenient/cheap/empty pub next door, in and through a speedy queue, and a choice of six cloak rooms: rarely in London, never for New Year’s, but as long as you weren’t one of the unlucky few who accidentally queued in line for the clown-costume/psychedelic rave next door, easy-peasy.

Even the preamble is joyful: a very convenient/cheap/empty pub next door, in and through a speedy queue if you got the right one (not for the crazy psytrance next door), and a choice of six cloakrooms – a rarity for a London club. Once in, escaping the cold requires pushing through the thick black blanket that guards room one from the outside, passing anonymous cloaked figures on the way, lost as bulks in the fabric. Emerging on the other side brings the welcoming sounds of Noel Mas (you’ll get his name if you read it backwards). Playing from the back in the shallower of the three tunnels, the second Man Make Music DJ of the night brings his updated retro samples, mixing up two-step with four by four, old raving acid house keys with bursting synthesisers, sounds that have become signature.

Room two, longer than the first with a bar at one end and M.A.N.D.Y.’s Philipp Jung elevated in his own little box, is rammed. Everyone’s preparing for the strike of midnight, most sporting tracksuits in honour of Tayo. A Picachu pops up, as does a rather dapper Barack Obama tracksuit, purchased from the apparently politicised Shepherd’s Bush Market.

The record stops, the countdown begins – again (the first was a false alarm) – and couples grab each other – or don’t if you’ve lost your other half somewhere amongst the madness, a theme that continues. ‘Wooooooooooo’, arms in the air, smiles on faces, high fives and hugging, everyone deserves to feel a little smug for being in the right place for NYE. The music from M.A.N.D.Y. is admittedly slightly tame, opting Sebastien Tellier’s gorgeous – but utterly undanceable – La Ritournelle. To boot, this room is an effective thoroughfare between the other two – and it’s horribly packed and hot at this point.

Geddes takes a different approach: thumping techno with little else, often too subtle to really stimulate the senses – but no questions asked about softness. At times too self-involved to care enough for his audience and up the ante, Geddes does not stray from his own agenda, sending out a personal homage to rumbling minimal tech. There’s brief respite in the form of Rekleiner’s Somewhere (one of his own creations), the atmospheric build-up putting hairs on end and tingling skin.

Up some stairs and through another wall cavity is the jewel in the crown: room three. It’s a real treat – with the style and setup of a proper club, featuring a long balcony that’s initially for chilling, a long low intimate dance floor, and a very long bar. Serge Santiago controls the place from 1.30, playing a set more expected from the mulletover boys than a tracksuit party – chunky groovy beats that get you to your feet. There’s space to chill, chat, and the smoking area and portacabin toilets are situated at the open back of the room – which also gives a good bit of ventilation. It feels like days gone by when farts evaded the nostrils, BO was not so noticeable, and a murky cloud made everywhere feel clandestine.

I know it’s tradition to mention the toilets – especially how bad they are in warehouse parties – but why bother dwelling (perhaps because I can piss standing up?). According to some they lived up to the expected nightmare, and going by the face of a friend of mine, there wasn’t much lighting either – after a fuse blew or something around midnight. Although to be fair the ladies portacabins were probably the poshest we’ve ever seen (in the light) – complete with porcelain lavs, wicker basket for throwing your thick paper towels in, posh handwash and even artwork above the loos (why girls need visual stimulation above the toilet we’re not sure?) Emerging with black streaks around her eyes and across her cheeks, the lesson is not to apply your makeup up in the dark, and never allow those without full control of faculties – friend or foe – near a mascara brush.

Back in the first room Another Amit is proving the MMM pedigree, a wonky tech-house set that pleasantly reeks of Mr. Von Stroke – Claude gets his Whistler in, as well as his remix of Samim’s Heater, twisting the euphoric for our aural satisfaction. The haunting deepens further with the Charles Webster remix of Justin Martin’s The Sad Piano. Whether it’s an obscure early morning slot at Café 1001 or headlining Eastern Electrics on New Year’s Eve, Amit is always worth listening to.

Weaving along the eerily lit brick walls, skating between the nylon three-stripes, navigating the metal steps that get more unsteady as the night winds on – or perhaps it’s my balance? – we reach Tayo in room three, with a style all of his own that we weren’t expecting. Immediately distinct, he samples old Philly roots and New Orleans funk to prop up the eclectic electronica, segueing eventually into chunky melodic techno, jacking tech-house, and a sprinkling of tribalism. As if to prove a point, D-Unity’s Tribalism Continues(Filthy Drum Mix) is blared out, brimming over with African drums and muted chanting. We stick by him at the expense of Damian Lazarus in room two, and it turns out to be an inspired choice – although on paper the Crosstown Rebels head honcho would surely win.

The only downside is the indecision come half six, the desperation of being cold and confused: where to go for an after party? The plan to meet at 10AM at the Old Queen’s Head is a good one, but needing of a stop-gap filler until then – those who sneak off to Jaded have the right idea, while talk of Aquarium drags off a few more (bleugh – Ed).. Unfortunately, those who accompany me to an empty party on the other side of London wish they hadn’t, but then again, what’s New Year’s Eve without a slight mishap?

Great Suffolk Street was undoubtedly the London venue of NYE 2008, a breath of fresh air from all the usual haunts – and whilst the likes of Berghain and Panoramabar in Berlin looked hands-down mind-bogglingly brilliant, for those who appreciate the home comforts (i.e. being surrounded by mates and getting into your own bed at the end of it all), Eastern Electrics delivered in style. My NYE faith has been fully restored, and up cranks the pressure for next year. Oh dear.

Photos by Gareth Drake


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