As a human being gets older and older, a birthday more and more becomes a time for reflection and introspection. You think back to the people you've met, the friends you've made, and the good times spent under the lights and lasers. You remember that time you were sick on yourself on public transport. You remember the time you thought the extractor fan was playing minimal techno. You try to understand why you are again that little bit more attracted to beige clothing than you were a year ago.
For us at Transcend, the latest age milestone for our own brand is absolutely no different. As our birthday event approaches, there seems like an awful lot to reflect upon. While 3 years might not seem like such a long time, it feels like it's been quite a journey already, a journey, more than anything, of self-discovery.
Transcend, the genre-smelting, boundary-pushing little brand now calling London its home, started from very modest means and has had some very clear evolutions. It started at a small bar in Brighton called Cube Bar - a bar that more recently closed to make way for the Be At One cocktail bar chain. It was a bi-weekly Thursday event which gave many local DJs the platform to play out to the trance starved Brighton public.
Transcend in its early days at Cube Bar welcomed the likes of local lads, SMX Project, now making a name for themselves with big gigs across the country, Richard Marriott of Recoverworld and Brighton's psy-trance maestro, Dan Ascherl. Every DJ that walked away from a Transcend at Cube Bar spoke of the warm welcome they received. It was obvious from the beginning that there was something potentially special here.
When Transcend's mastermind and head honcho, Ben Durlsey moved back to his home town of Bristol, the brand went with him. After a few small events at Bijou's on Whiteladies Road, Transcend move to Pranj's Bar on Corn Street. While Pranj's didn't really feel like an out-and-out dance music venue, Transcend wasted little time in building on what it had in Brighton. The 2013 Xmas Party hosted Hereford-based production whizz, Phil Parry, and it was a Black Friday smash - not just the size of the crowd but also the floor of the DJ booth.
It was Transcend's First Birthday in February 2014 (hosted slightly later than the brand's actual December birth date), where the brand really stated their intent. The First Birthday welcomed two trance legends in Signum and The Thrillseekers, who even went back-to-back on the night itself. The atmosphere was exceptional and absolutely befitting of marking such an important occasion. The First Birthday was also the birth of Dickinson & Dursley as a concept, residents Phil Dickinson and Ben Dursley joining forces for the first time.
In those early years, Transcend styled themselves as 'The Home Of Trance & Progressive' and certainly during those months in Bristol it was the city's definitive home for trance music. Not only did we host Standerwick and Ronny K. in that time, but a real family began to grow and the resident DJ team of Ben Durlsey, Phil Dickinson and Calvin Karass began to develop an understanding of what Transcend was musically. These two elements have become central pillars for the brand's development.
The Sound Of Ibiza night in May 2014 sticks out in particular as a memory and highlight. There were no major headliners on show that day, but the crowd almost tore the roof off the place. We were breathless.
Moving to London in December 2014 was a real game changer. Compared to Bristol and Brighton, London is a hotbed of clubbing activity, already with a number of other well-established trance brands. It was the kind of move that would either put Transcend to the sword or crystallise everything we are aiming to achieve.
In Bristol, we were happy filling a genre void. In London, we realised who we really were. We are a group of DJs and clubbers who want to be different, to have our own stamp and seal. And more than anything, bring back some of the older values to the scene amidst a growing climate of saturation and boredom.
As a team, we talk a lot more about extended sets and about rediscovering the true art of the warm up. Musical progression throughout the course of a night was always important to us, but now it's our very first thought.
We launched in London in Brixton at Plan B, which has now become Phonox. We kicked things off with James Dymond and the returning Standerwick. But it was our April 2015 event, with The Thillseekers playing a 3 hour set, that really marked our arrival. Something about that night was particularly unique. With its friendly atmosphere, intimate feel and very clear musical progression, it was very uniquely Transcend. Synaesthesia is one of those classics that gets played a lot, but the audible cheer that went up when that melody dropped that night summed up the event itself. People still tell us that it was one of their favourite ever nights.
We gained a lot of confidence from that event and not even losing our venue could hold us back. In terms of numbers, our July event at Club Reina in Farringdon was even more successful than April had been.
We look back now and our experiences have taught us a lot about what Transcend is.
We are trance, but we are a lot more than that. We are about the varied melting pot of genres that really gets the moods and vibes flowing. We are about intimacy, about a crowd that is never disconnected from the people entertaining them. We are about the old clubbing values of inclusivity and equality on the dancefloor. No matter how big Transcend gets, this is the mission statement.
Our Third Birthday at Club Reina on December 5th is a real opportunity for us to show this like we never have before. We have done our upmost to combine the elements that made our last two parties the epitome of that mission statement.
There's a lot to celebrate too. We have a 4 hour set from Manuel Le Saux, officially marking the first UK date in his Destiny Album Tour. This for us is a real honour. We also have support from local hero, Chris North, from our friends in the UK Trance Society and from Journey in Cardiff.
With it being our Third Birthday, thoughts naturally leads us back to recreating some of the birthday magic from our First Birthday in Bristol. The memories from that are still strong. And not to forget this really marks the beginning of the festive season where, like they did for our Xmas Party in 2013, the breaks come off.
Ladies and gentlemen, we invite you to come create some new memories with us! This is just the beginning!
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