Last updated: 20th Aug 2015.
Originally published: 19th Aug 2015
There has been a lot of talk in media circles this last week about how clubbing in the UK is struggling. Recent articles, including one in The Guardian, have estimated that the number of clubbing venues in Britain has halved in the last decade. This statistic is astonishing in itself.
There was once a time when clubbing felt like a counter-cultural movement. A lot has changed since the days of sweaty acid house raves in dirty warehouses, those dark rooms of loved up hugs and smiles. I'm much too young to remember these days of course. For me, they are all received cultural memories projected through idealism, ideas I recall as if they were from a past life.
However, the landscape has clearly changed now. Clubbing or going to a 'rave' can mean anything from a boozey stag party dancing to Faithless - Insomnia in an inner city Walkabout to fishing Steve Aoki's confectionery out of your champagne glass at a festival.
Clubbing isn't niche or culturally offbeat like it used to be. Often it's more about creating memories through spectacle rather than through human relationships. More about constant excitement and impact than patience or building. A lot of clubbing isn't even going on in clubs anymore. Everyone is doing it but they are doing it in new ways and to a new definition.
Closer to our home, in the world of trance music, the closing of venues has sparked debate about how trance clubbers are following their passions and the state of the scene more generally. Despite pressures, the scene itself appears relatively healthy. The clubbers involved are as interconnected as ever, they travel further for events than ever before and many of clubbing's inclusive values remain. Trance still has a hugely passionate following and it does feel like a family.
However, the trend in clubbing of creating the 'big spectacle' has influenced trance music. The question has been raised, how much do the current breed support smaller events at intimate venues with lesser known names, where the focus is inevitably on more nuanced elements of the experience? Is it all about multiple big names in cavernous venues lit by L.E.D. screens? Or is there a market for resident nights, for example?
Transcend's recent Residents & Future Heroes night in London in July really showed that there is. Our DJs that night were all up-and-coming talents, names making their way in the scene, including residents from a number of UK brands including Trancecoda and Rong. The aim with this event was never to be brash or overstated. It was simply to stick to our philosophy of the musical journey.
With the support of the UK Trance Society, we were able to create two rooms with unmistakably good-natured atmospheres, rooms where people danced non-stop from open till close to trance, techno and everything in between. Everyone was welcome and felt welcome. There was clear vibe of respect all night long. In fact, the crowd made the night.
Despite the lack of a recognised headliner in the traditional sense, this Transcend ranked alongside our most successful ever events. In many ways, it completely outstripped anything we've ever done.
The thing that struck us most was that the whole night proved that 'real' clubbers still exist, that 'real' clubbing still exists and that 'real' clubbing values still exist. An event built on people and not on brazen exposition. It was truly inspiring. Even in the current climate of pessimism, intimate events like this continue to give trance music the soul that so much of everything else casually labelled 'clubbing' completely lacks.
That said, from experience, we know that booking a recognised legend of the scene can sprinkle some magic into the air. When The Thrillseekers played an extended set for us in April, the electricity of the atmosphere was palpable; the night itself was unforgettable. A hugely respected figure in the scene got the chance to spread his wings and take our crowd on the kind of musical odyssey that is central to our thinking as a brand.
Transcend turns 3 years old this coming December and thoughts turned to how we mark this huge occasion. Looking at the success of the last two events, the real thought was how we push things to the next level. April and July were subtly different approaches and we wanted to retain many elements of both. Thankfully, we don't need to make any compromises
For December, we invite back the UK Trance Society to take over Room 2 of Club Reina. With them on board we know we'll have the kind of crowd that made July such a vindication of current trance culture. At the same time, we add some of the April magic by welcoming another trance legend for an extended set. Master of the peaktime uplifter, Manuel Le Saux, will be doing a 4 hour set for us, his first extended set in London since 2013.
With both elements in the formula, we know the stage is set. This will be another golden opportunity to see that true trance clubbing is indeed alive and well... And it is our birthday after all.
Manual Le Saux (4 Hour Set)
Hywel Matthews & Richie Knight (Vinyl Classics Set)
Dickinson & Dursley
Room 2: Hosted by the UK Trance Society
DJ Scotcha (Classics Set)
85 Charterhouse Street, London, EC1M 6HJ, United Kingdom
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