The annual Drumcode warehouse party in London has become a Halloween fixture over the last four years, and for this fifth edition – Awakenings & LWE present Drumcode Halloween – the stakes were upped. Dutch promoters Awakenings were brought on board by Adam Beyer’s label to put their stamp on proceedings as they moved to the 5,000-capacity Tobacco Docks in Wapping for a fright-by-day on Saturday, November 1st featuring Beyer’s label cohorts and techno luminaries including Agoria, Scuba, Joseph Capriati, Paul Woolford, Len Faki and Happa. Mike Barnard and Ann McManus donned their Halloween finest and braved the dancefloors filled with ghouls, ghosts and other monstrous oddities.
The party monsters were down in the car park where this Drumcode’s heart was beating fast and furious.
He Said: Tooled up with an authentic Jason Voorhees hockey mask, blood-soaked machete, green overalls and working boots, I was ready to dice my way through the crowds at Drumcode, but too timid to be fully dressed up en route to Wapping from Finsbury Park – 3pm didn’t feel like slasher hour even with hoards of tourists navigating the underground at Kings Cross like zombies. It wasn’t until we departed the tube at Shadwell that the mask came out the plastic bag and machete was firmly grasped, but as we joined the back of the Drumcode queue behind a trio of girls in skimpy army uniforms and painted faces became the norm everywhere we looked, it was clear fancy dress was essential.
We bumped into friends dressed as fire (an elaborate yellow, orange and red gown with red wig to indicate flames plus white face paint and matching white top hat to indicate smoke) and a pirate (limp by comparison: an eye patch indicated his outfit) who quickly ushered us into the cavernous room one where Dense & Pika were playing an extended set owing to Joris Voorn’s delayed flight. An impressive array of LEDs across the backwall and an excitable MC stand out in the memory as the end of the duo’s set felt a little limp despite their remix of Technician Ignition’s “Hands in the Air” while the introduction of Alan Fitzpatrick didn’t beef up the beats, not helped by the carpeted floor and vast space between the crowd and the high ceiling absorbing the sound.
We busted a groove and descended to the car park under Tobacco Dock’s shopping centre-style layout where room two was in full flow with Scuba at the controls. The concrete surroundings and low ceilings meant the acoustics were perfectly suited to the thumping 4/4 – think Tresor meets Berghain – while LED lights flashed above our heads. It was hot, I tipped my machete to the latex mask-wearing werewolf, to the point of a sauna – though mainly because everyone was jutting their stuff to such ferocious techno. Nina Kraviz came on and kept up the pace, much to the delight of her adoring fans – one girl kept shouting “NINAAAAAAAAAAA!” in my ear every time the bass dropped. Despite being the second room, the car park captured the illegal rave feel of being in a more temporary space and the crowd responded by creating a electric atmosphere which the DJs responded to by keeping the music at a frenetic pace.
Elsewhere, bizarre goings on around Tobacco Dock saw cult-style processions and chanting throughout the day, and it was amusing to see classic ice creams available thanks to the Awakenings influence which they proudly boasted about. In room three we caught Geddes and Max Cooper laying down some smoother techno vibes, however the party monsters were down in the car park where this Drumcode’s heart was beating fast and furious.
The crowd were all generally up for a chat – praising costumes, sharing fake blood and exclaiming how f-ing cool a party it was.
She Said: Festival season now being a distant memory, Drumcode’s Halloween Awakening day party stood out in my diary for weeks in advance. Having heard rave reviews of Tobacco Docks’ NYE 2013 party, where the line up included Seth Troxler, Maceo Plex and Anja Schneider I had been looking for an excuse to get myself down there, and the promise of thundering techno from some of the international Drumcode set was just that.
Arriving just after 4pm to a myriad of seriously costumed ravers, we caught Dense & Pika finishing off in room one, a huge room fitted out to a very hi-spec with lasers and LED-paneled walls – not what I expected in the slightest having heard Tobacco Docks referred to as London’s “edgy new warehouse venue”. Alan Fitzpatrick came on to deliver his set to an enthusiastic full house, opening with his own “Turn Down the Lights”.
Hearing room two was hosting deeper, darker techno we bolted down to find Scuba pounding out a far more energetic set in an underground car park, the cavernous setting causing the storm of sound to reverberate fantastically. The crowd were all generally up for a chat – praising costumes, sharing fake blood and exclaiming how f-ing cool a party it was. A lot of Nordics were in attendance to support their local (Swedish) label, as well a huge Dutch following. When Nina Kraviz appeared and her signature sophisticated, technical techno blasted out, the lady keeping as serene a composure as ever, the crowd were ecstatic.
I can only imagine that as the night went on, the beats took an even darker, heavier tone in the build up to label boss Adam Beyer’s set the energy would have built to an insane level. Prior commitments meant I couldn’t stay to close, however having been blown away by the venue, I hope to be back again soon.
She Said by Ann McManus.