The 28th of October saw vampires descend on a cavernous warehouse in the heart of London’s East End. Halloween was nearly upon us, as marauding crowds flocked to Tobacco Dock in search of blood, bodies and techno. Unadulterated, unworldly techno, courtesy of Swedish mainstay Adam Beyer, and the capital’s premiere party planner London Warehouse Events. Drumcode Halloween had made it’s eagerly anticipated return, and brought with it some of the finest purveyors of high quality techno from around the world. Readers beware, you’re in for a fright.
After passing through security and seeing to the usual pre-rave rituals (toilet, drink tokens and a bottle of water), we ventured forth into the dark underbelly of Tobacco Dock: the Car Park. The eerie silence prior to entering only added to the atmosphere, and as we pushed past revelers cheek-by-jowel, we settled into a spot on the left hand side, and allowed the signature moves of Pig & Dan to take us to another dimension. It was dark, really dark, as sporadic light shows flicked down the corridor, illuminating the cold walls and sweaty faces alike. The low ceiling amplified everything, as a robotic vocal sample asserted “choice”, before being swept under by a drum beat so powerful that it would have shocked even the most hardcore of techno fans. Now that was an exciting way to start the day.
Like vampires, the light upon leaving the Car Park was damaging. Yet, instead of craving blood, we had a desire for techno, and Ilario Alicante had just taken control of the Great Gallery. It’s a big space, a sprawling room with black cloth draped along the ceiling, carpeted floors and speakers at the front and back, a room wholeheartedly designed for hours of raving. The Italian stallion was in full flow, full seamless flow, as he provided the highlight moment of the day: mixing Regal‘s ‘Pulzar’ over The Age of Love’s “Come on Dance With Me” vocal. It was outrageous, one of those perfect combinations that lead to a real goosebumps moment.
Day had crept into night, and as the crepuscular creatures came out if their lair, we took refuge in the Car Park once again, to witness Hotflush Recordings honcho Scuba shelling it down. This was the standout set of the day hands down, as the heavyweight provided a varied selection of techno rollers. It wasn’t just hard hitting and fast, it was more eclectic, with acid infused elements and chunky bassliness that kept the set exciting right through till the end. Worth particular mention is the stocky, acid-y number courtesy of Beesmunt Soundsystem titled ‘Playin’ Myself’, an up-and-down, hi-hat filled joyride that really did destroy the dance.
We were now in the heart of the evening, and as it dawned that time was nearly running out, we got up from our breather and headed back to the underbelly, to catch one of techno’s most likable DJs: Alan Fitzpatrick. For the final set, we couldn’t have asked for anything better, with a clear energy behind the decks he absolutely killed it. Quick build ups, echoing vocal samples and devastating drops set the pace high, as every raver responded to each faultless move. The energy was electric, leaving us sadly bewildered by the end of the last track when reality came crashing back home.
We left swiftly, coming back out into the streets of Wapping with the evening’s soundtrack fresh in our minds. The walk back to the station was fervent with chat about the days antics, and we quickly decided that London’s Tobacco Dock is a venue that needs to be ticked off any music lovers list. 5000 revellers, more than ten hours of music, and a sprawling event space that encompasses a warehouse with a fully functioning car park beneath it, kitted out with an outrageous sound system and suitably outrageous light shows to match. It’s a statement, an immersive offering that is as much a part of London’s club culture as any other institution, and one that provides a day of pure, dancing bliss.