So what can I say about the closing party. Well, it was my first time going to the venue at the Oval Space in Bethnal Green that has been home to a fair number of ridiculously good Secretsundaze parties in the past and it was excellent! Setting off relatively early and for once facing short queues was the one! The staff on the door were a cheerful, funny bunch; a pleasant change from the normal stern looks from the grumpy muscle you get arriving elsewhere.
So back to the venue; it makes complete sense why Secretsundaze would call this place their new home, it opens up immediately to an upstairs terrace with a cool medium sized bar space and seated area adjacent to the main room without the snobbery that usually goes behind clubs with these summer style open spaces.
Venturing to the main room of the venue, what you’re greeted with is an absolutely brilliant sound system. The drums; hi-hats, kicks, the tribal flavours dripping off the snares were undeniably accentuated unlike anything I’ve ever heard in such a compact venue. It was also good to note that they hadn’t oversold the event like so many events that focus on mining from our pockets. Though I arrived early there were a fair number of peopl so as not to feel awkward dancing, which immediately demonstrated to myself, exactly how keen people were about this particular run of nights.
Grabbing a drink I dived straight in to resident James Priestley on the decks flipping the next record to cue up on the dusty 1210’s just as I moved to the front.
It was really refreshing to see the way in which Priestley would navigate and throw his mix into the crowd. This is a man who has honed his record selection over decades and it’s always forgotten that’s a long time to play tracks when there are countless others much more inexperienced pointedly in the spotlight. Priestley’s style is great; he really had an eclectic mix of house, disco and dance floor friendly avant-garde tracks. Those boys were fully in sync with the sways and flow of the crowd.
I have to mention again that I can’t express enough how good the system was! Giles & James obviously know how to manipulate the club to their full advantage as if it was down on the back of their hand. The drums were so deep and heavy without overpowering the stream of the assortments of their sound. Though as good a system it was, no record collector can escape the odd crack and pop of a record on a set. Though for some it’s part of the charm and character that vinyl sets add.
Beautiful music; as Priestley’s set retreated into summer heavy piano laden house as I took a moment to appreciate the ‘art’ aspect of the venue in which it presented itself with visuals of an incredible psychedelic lava lamp like quality flooding the entire space adding a panoramic 60’s acid trip element to the whole audio-visual experience.
Word eventually got about that Motor City Drum Ensemble was experiencing delays with his flight, luckily the residents made it feel as if nothing was amiss as they carried on making everyone move, tune after tune after tune. Even in a crisis, those enigmatic fellows, Giles Smith and James Priestley could make matters light as they dusted each track in a riotous sortie of analog warmth. Eventually, MCDE did arrive to an encore of applause from the audience amongst the rumours that he would be a no show. He had come not a moment too soon.
Straight into synth madness, the ‘Raw cuts’ DJ knew his thing; his set had claimed a ‘gas pedal to the floor’ feel of his own production. As an orchestra of trumpets threw itself from every corner of the room bouncing in the very depths of one’s hearing. The party started swinging harder as the floor felt alive with the sounds. You know for once I didn’t have anything bad to say about the crowd. There were smiles all around as a chorus of 90s R&B vocals declared ‘hey hey’ to tumultuous approval. MCDE progressed in elegant fashion evolving the sound into Chic’s disco hit ‘dance, dance, dance’. It was so hypnotic as if there was a full blown dub techno element feeding into the nature of every transition.
There was a particular focus on heavy-keyed Chicago-cum-New York piano laden tracks but no-one has ever said there’s too much piano house. The German has made his craft an art of immaculate standard; record after record of dance music for the soul.
As Detroit techno rhythms fell through to acid house, MCDE guided the audience through the chapters of house right through the ages. His ending couldn’t be more spectacular with a chorus sung back to ‘Don’t You Want It’ by Davina into those mesmerising final notes of that epic from Mad Mike.
Next on the agenda was Mr G.
Holy shit, what else can I tell you other than it was one of my favourite performances ever. In most of my experiences, I’ve never seen an audience synchronously tune in so rapidly. As soon as that man appeared on stage with a few premature bursts of approval before he had even finished setting up his gear. He opened up with one of the coveted set sequences that shot him into the limelight via his Boiler Room performance not long ago, the echoes of ‘If house was a Nation, I wanna be a president’ as that characteristic bass booms with the frenzied loops of familiar thick snares and deep synths.
The relentless hi-hats that Mr G charges through the audience as he plays his ‘more warm than fuzzy’ sound fixates those revelling in the midst of the room in a sort of primal affair that you can only get with the music of Mr G. Even placing 80s synth sounds in the mix following on my own favourite vocal sample ‘Come on Touch me’ and you can hear everyone around at you like a broken chain of Chinese whispers turn to each other with a giddy look just saying how good Mr G is. Mr G might not be a household name in house or techno but the man is a spectacular performer and, understandably so, a favourite for the the Secretsundaze gang.
To bring up a quote from pioneering DJ, David Mancuso ‘A DJ is there to participate. He should have one foot in the booth and the other on the dancefloor.’. This was precisely the case for the whole night.
Secretsundaze gave us a legendary party demonstrating exactly why James Priestley and Giles Smith have built up such a profound and inspiring reputation amongst the parties in London. Secretsundaze have the essential qualities of exactly what should get them a spot in the dance hall of fame, albeit for staying true to the timeless ideals and foundation that they series had their birth. Fantastic party and I can’t wait till the next!
Be sure to check out the secretsundaze Facebook page to get up to date information on their upcoming events:
Written by Suthan Logan