The Rainbow Venues' Carnival Magnifico has become the place for students to celebrate the end of their gruelling exams and for everyone to start their summer off on an incredible high. The line-up promised a heavy helping of house, plenty of bassline, a tad of techno and a sprinkle of reggae to cook up the perfect summer feast and the Rainbow Venues opened up their huge arena to cater to the growing crowd.
Upon arrival, the snaking queue looked like an eclectic array of festival goers or a Caribbean carnival parade, everyone choosing to ignore the looming dark clouds and don their floral shirts anyway. You’d have stuck out if you weren’t covered in sequins and glitter. As we made our way into the arena it was just starting to get dark and Klose One was doing what he does best, blaring out some thumping bass from the impressively huge arena speakers.
There were colourful strips strewn above us and makeshift funky buildings on the stage and dotted around the arena, creating the feel of a crazy little city. The décor was colourful but minimal, and considering the effort put into the attire of the attendees it left us wanting a little more.
The line-up had less recognisable names on it than the year before, but one stand out booking was David Rodigan, one of the original reggae selectors who can even boast an MBE for his considerable musical accomplishments. He isn’t what you’d expect a reggae and dub don to look like, with his signature specs and bowler hat, but he sure can work a crowd. Playing infectious rhythms like a soul shaking remix of Sister Nancy’s Reggae Anthem ‘Bam Bam’ which was one of the highlights of the night.
The rain was coming down in sheets at this point, but no one seemed to care, letting glitter stream as they moved their ‘bam bam’ in time with the groovy reggae beats. He played the perfect mixture of slow, mellow Caribbean flavoured tunes and energetic dub bangers to keep the crowd entertained despite the pouring rain. Confetti cannons turned the sky red for a moment too, and despite looking like we’d gone swimming, the unfortunate weather couldn’t dampen our euphoric spirits at this point.
After his incredible set, it was time to head inside, thoroughly soaked from head to toe. This was when we became aware of the chaotic disorganisation of the event, as they didn’t seem prepared for the large number of people coming and the heavy rain. There were huge queues forming to get inside the Warehouse or the smaller Kitchen venue, both growing considerably as the rain showed no sign of stopping.
After being pushed around in the jostling crowd of people attempting to squeeze inside, we made it into the Kitchen. Suitably named DJs Sexy Kitchen Party greeted us into the warmth with some much-loved house party classics, and we chose not to dwell on the difficulty of getting inside. Instead we obeyed Chic’s demand booming from the speakers, that ‘Everybody Dance’ and made our way into the crowd.
This set was essentially the ultimate throwback party playlist. With popular 90s floor fillers, like Stardust ‘Music Sounds Better With You’, as well as plenty of naughty noughties numbers like ‘Lola’s Theme’ by The Shapeshifters and an upbeat mix of The Gorillaz brilliant ‘Clint Eastwood’. They’d really managed to pack the liberating carnival feeling into this little room and it’s a shame that some people would have missed out, unable to get inside.
After this we queued again to get into the Warehouse and Blackbox area of the Rainbow Venues, this time they’d implemented what looked like a one in one out policy and it took us a tedious hour to get inside. After sampling the rather repetitive techno on offer in The Warehouse, and the relentless drum & bass drops in the Blackbox, we settled for the Secret Garden set.
They’d created a rather impressive den with a leafy green cover that gave the place a secretive, hidden party vibe. Bill Cuttin provided a brilliant set that made us instantly forget about our weary legs as the event creeped further into the early hours of the morning. He played skilled remixes of mainstream music like Usher’s 'Climax', transforming the sultry RnB hit into a thumping party record.
This event had all the right ingredients, but sadly the Great British weather meant it did not reach its full potential. Event goers had to really persevere, embracing the rain and the queues, to find those moments of musical bliss, but once found they were every bit as wonderful as we'd expected.