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Twistathon – Twist’s 12 Hour 1st Birthday Bonanza
Reported by bunny
Submitted 20-12-03 11:26
12 months ago it all started. In the desolate-ish wastelands of Vauxhall, buried deep beneath the rattling railway arches and barren asphalt rivers an oasis of colour, light, music and life was stirring. Knowledge of its existence was limited; at first. But Clubland was re-awakening, and Sunday mornings were destined never to be the same again…. Here’s the legend of Twist.
One very full year later and all manner of things have happened. The oasis has formed a growing ecosystem of thriving, dedicated Twisters, who flock back to base each and every week to graze on it’s plethora of musical delicacies. Knowledge of the Fire Club has spread far and wide, thanks to a multitude of reasons. First and foremost there’s the range of classic sets too numerous by now to list; suffice to say, the decks and dance floors in both rooms have been well and truly broken in by now. Net forums across London (and beyond) have been sizzling with a server-busting barrage of threads dissecting, arguing, questioning and extolling its appeal; seldom a day goes by here on HF without some mention of Twist being made. Perhaps the most important factor in determining a promotion’s success in clubland is word-of-mouth; I challenge you to make it through just one Saturday night without someone asking you if you’re Vauxhall-bound in the morning. And last but definitely by no means least, there’s the famous Twist Bus, pink avenging Angel sent from on high each Sunday morning to rescue clubbers from the purgatory of the Long Wait For The Tubes To Open.
So are the increasing number of accolades bestowed on Twist (most memorably ‘Twist is the new Studio 54’) truly justified? Well, let me step forward and present to you, ladies and gentlemen of the clubbing world, the case for Twist as the afterparty to end all afterparties, as impeccably displayed by its first birthday bash, the Twistathon. Today, the full essence of its 12 tumultuous months of Twististence will be compressed down into 12 hours of raw, potent partying. Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy ride…
Exhibit A: The residents. The most essential make-or-break part of a club. The big name DJs come and go according to their schedules but it falls down to a club’s residents to keep the crowds rushing back week after week. It’s vitally important that the right people, with the right sounds, are picked for the job. Twist has chosen Ting, Karim and Danny Gilligan for the main room, with Mrs Woods and Rod Towns funking around in room two. Even for a night-time party it’s impressive. But this is a Sunday morning slice of afters we’re talking about here –what other afterparty can boast of such a line up? Afterssentials up in Birmingham is the only one that I can think of: definitely nowhere else in London. Today the Twist Bus pulls up outside Fire at 6.45am (it always waits outside the chosen club for a good half an hour after it’s shut, so no one needs to worry or hurry over getting on board) and by 7am I’m in the communal Ladies Toilets and getting changed and freshened up for Round 3 of the weekend (the knockout round). The toilets are right by the DJ booth, which means you can still clearly hear the music – in fact, you never miss a single beat. And today, as always, the place is overflowing with people preening in the mirror, chatting, freshening up and trying to find lost friends, all to a background of pounding Hard Trance filtering through from the main room. Danny Gilligan’s just getting into his set when he drops Black Dogs, while I’m just getting into my skirt. Trying to get changed in a cubicle in a hurry whilst fighting the insatiable urge to dance makes for an interesting, if not entirely pain-free, introduction to a party.
Exhibit B: The crowd. Regularly topping 600 an event, there are an awful lot of them for an afterparty; in fact, I’ll bet there’s been nothing like it since the hey-days of Trade. And the variety of Twist’s clientele is something that’s become quite legendary, or perhaps more to the point, infamous. This isn’t a place for wallflowers and bores, lightweights and leave-earlys, the unadventurous or the intolerant. If you want a nice, safe, quiet end to your weekend, best go home and watch kids TV from underneath the duvet. If you want to pick up where you left off last night and push it even further, you’re a Natural Born Twister and you’ve come to the right place. Twist attracts individuals from the more vibrant, vivid and outrageously colourful end of the clubbing spectrum. People who want no-frills clubbing go elsewhere. People who want frills, fishnets, fluorescence, fancy dress and fashion come to Twist – in droves. Today the place is brimming with the gamut of London’s party people; you can’t move for clubbers, promoters, DJs and the like. The instant you walk into the club it hits you, that indescribable atmosphere peculiar only to Twist. Traditionally afterparties are the places you slump along to when you’re still high from a big night out to chill out and ruminate over the night that was. They’re not really famed for their exuberant, insatiably up-for-it atmospheres. But walk through the doors of the Fire Club every Sunday morning and what hits you – and it truly does hit you – is a place that feels not so much like a club as a generator. As with today there’s a constant, hungry energy throbbing through the room; look out on the swathe of people blurring and merging across the dance floor beneath clubland’s superlative lighting rig and feel it surge into your aching muscles and tired mind. There are close to 700 people in here. And they’re all going off like fireworks on New Year’s Eve.
If you didn’t know it was Sunday morning you’d think it was a Friday night. The enthusiasm and intensity in which everyone is throwing themselves into the music is usually only seen 36 hours earlier, when everyone’s weekend is still wet behind the ears and full of new-born excitement. As the BK mix of DJ Mishka’s Access storms into play a cacophony of praise unrolls across the dance floor and the insanity steps up yet another pace. Danny Gilligan’s come a long way this year and it’s really showing in his sets. He’s found his sound – kind of techy yet still bouncy – and this has added a natural flow to his DJing which makes it incredibly easy to dance to. So from Access we go, via a semaless mix, into the Nick Sentience mix of Twisted and from that –My God! – it’s the Prime Mover mix of Come On and there’s still no chance for a break because straight after that is my favourite tune of the year, the Pete Wardman mix of Hooked, of which it has been scientifically proven that it’s impossible not to dance to. If I had a cap, Mr Gilligan, I’d doff it.
Room Two is a more languorous affair. This is where the funky house, funkier techno and breakbeats hang out. Mrs Woods is in charge and DK’s Murder Was The Bass with the bpm’s toned down (but certainly not the impact) is spinning out across a full and flowing dance floor. If Room One gets a bit too much for you, or if you just want to appreciate the more gorgeously chilled side to Twist, this is where to go. Mrs Woods is the only DJ who doesn’t play Hard Dance that I make a point of catching. Many mornings I’ve missed out on a big chunk of the main room action just to listen and learn from what she plays, and to teach myself that, hey!, being funky can be fun too, you know. Today’s set is thick with basslines overridden by a rich funky groove. And whether you’re dancing or dreaming, it makes for damn good listening.
Exhibit C: The club. These arches have come a looong way since their Viaduct days. Twist wasn’t always as popular as it is now, and the Fire Club wasn’t always so spectacular… in fact, it was a bit of an ugly duckling. Many moons ago it went under the name of the Viaduct and looked a heck of a lot different to the club we all know and love. The Viaduct had a long, narrow and slightly uneven dance floor with a bar running along one side of it and a stage-come-chill-out place along the other; in short it was suffering from a bout of Turnmills-itis, in that it was a dance club you couldn’t really dance in. And, er, it wasn’t very glamourous. Basically, it was one of those clubs that some people would go to once and then forever after stamp the mental note ‘AVOID’ upon. That’s a bit harsh, since it really wasn’t that bad, but it was one of those places you either loved or hated. Hmmm, perhaps not everything’s changed…
Now it’s known as the Fire Club and there can be no disputing the fact that it’s one of the best designed clubs in London. And most of London knows this now. But they didn’t at the start. Twist had a tough childhood; it suffered from a great deal of prejudice at the hands and minds of people who refused to go because of their vivid recollections of the Viaduct. Spending a whole Sunday morning there really wasn’t a prospect they particularly relished. I should know – I was one of them. One Sunday in April Londonclubber finally convinced me to go… I didn’t want to go home, nothing else that was on appealed and the numerous and detailed accounts he’d given me of the improvements made to the place had piqued my curiosity. So I went, and there hasn’t been a Sunday since when I haven’t done the same. The first time I went there Londonclubber and Steve gave me a guided tour. I felt like Charlie in the Chocolate Factory. I just couldn’t believe it was the same place. Now, eight months later, I’m still quite incredulous. When you open the doors of Fire into the main room, your greeting by a tunnel lined with plush, velvety fabrics and a soft glitter of tiny fairy lights. At the end of the tunnel lies the bar area, with a large alcove tucked round to the right scattered with enormous Alice-In-Wonderland-mushroom-style seats; before you there’s a wide, open space fit for milling around in. Down two steps lies even more vastness in the form of the dance floor, which is fashioned from a very smooth, faultless substance perfect for stomping on. No need to ever worry about tripping over anything other than yourself again. To the left, where the stage once was is now a balcony/walkway, an excellent way to redirect the human traffic away from the dance floor and also with its solid, unshakeable railings, the ideal spot for stomping when you’ve got the urge but also got the wobbles. And at the far end there’s the raised DJ booth, decked in the same plush fabric that lines the entrance tunnel and the right side of the dance floor. Today it’s all covered in the additional Twistathon décor, which mainly consists of a lot of birthday bunting round the walls with white drapes tied with red ribbons covering the railings. It’s a very cheeky mix between kitsch and classy and just totally Twist!
Through the double doors on the left there’s a second bar and the gents. Again on your left another pair of double doors lead to the ample-sized second room, while straight ahead there’s the chill-out grotto. The second room at Fire may not have the same impact on the senses as the first but it’s still a damn sight more impressive than some clubs’ main rooms and is a similarly well-thought-out affair. There are loads of huge, comfy seats to flop into, plenty of space to dance and a strange and interesting metal-cage-sculpture thingy. It’s certainly very easy on the eye.
Standing back and admiring the view is the last thing on mine, and it looks like everyone else’s mind right now, however. I’m back in the main room where Ting is enthusiastically… erm, I don’t think I can actually find a word to do justice to what Ting does during her sets – but she always does it enthusiastically. Over the course of 2003 there has been a handful of DJs who I’ve seen rise noticeably both in terms of their public profile and their Djing credence. Ting is one of them. With residencies both at Torture Gardens and her own night, Avin It/Large, she’s certainly not for the faint-kneed or –hearted but it’s her residency here at Twist which has really caught my ear and eye (probably because I’ve seen her play here every week for the past X months). I’ve heard everything from ferocious Hardcore, manic Nu NRG, Techno, deep Hard Trance, and Freefrom, right through to the most infectiously bouncy Hard House (she’s the only DJ I’ve ever heard play out Lock’N’Load’s Blow Ya Mind) detonate from the decks when she’s behind them. But it’s not just about the music style or track selection; Ting puts on a real performance as well, going so haywire behind the decks she often puts the rest of us to shame. If you want a DJ who really loves to get on in there and interact with the crowd, look no further. Today the music is unequivocally hard and bouncy, an itchy mix of Hard House and Hi NRG that deserves to be scratched with a good stomping. One track in particular – I think it’s called So Fucking What? – is so infectious it should be vaccinated. A darker mix of Music Is Moving shifts the set on into a trancier mode, blissfully enhanced by Paul Janes’ mix of Legend B’s Lost In Love before we’re digging deep into the dirtiness with Crazy Pills and Yamamba. With the timeless Motherf*cker as her sign-off track it’s been another classic Ting set; you can tell from the way your legs are killing you.
Peter Ward is on next and the feel of the music remains hard and driven, though with a slightly trancier vibe, Prime Mover’s Feel What I Feel being a prime example. Since I’ve never been to Trade (yeah I know, how bad is that??) I had only a rough idea of Peter’s style before Twist. Now, I’m a lot more familiar. Peter Ward mixed a promo CD for Twist during its infancy (the blue one) and anyone who has a copy can verify that it’s very, very good. And through listening to his sets at Twist I’ve come to recognise a dark yet still upbeat style with what many people refer to as an edge of the Trade sound hidden within it. Right now this is certainly the case; later on he’ll progress into delicious Hard House (Rock Da House into 9 Is A Classic, proper old school Tunes!) but that’s all still to come. Right now we’re halfway through the party and it’s time for my next piece of evidence, perhaps one of the most eye-catching parts of Twist and the Fire Club.
Exhibit D: The lighting and visuals. Oh yes, you KNOW what I mean! With more disco balls than you can shake, well, frankly anything at and one of the most state-of-the-art lasers in London, Fire club knows a few things about lighting effects. The main room is always sparsely lit; a rich, atmospheric darkness wraps around you while you dance – but it’s a very transient darkness. For it’s continually melded, slashed and broken by a laser whose designs look like a genius’s brainstorms. And as if that wasn’t enough, there’s also the enormous video screen at the far end of the dance floor, relaying a flood of trippy, dazzling images and, on one memorable morning, what looked to be an amateur video recording of a fancy dress dance audition. So, there you are, blissfully dancing away in the middle of the dance floor, marvelling at all the pretty colours around you, when suddenly the whole club goes into seizure. Or that’s what it looks like. Twist has become notorious for it’s ‘white light’ effect: the mother of all strobes flickering so rapidly the whole club is bathed in a fierce white light. I love it for 2 reasons:
1) I’ve never seen anything else like it
2) You’re never prepared for it and no matter how sober you are, it always makes you feel decidedly off centre. The aftermath of it is usually a club full of people beaming in a very dazed manner…
The second room has its own share of great lighting effects (though no laser) but I don’t think anything can compare to the full-on lighting riot in the main room, which usually comes courtesy of the guiding hand of Sven.
Exhibit E: The Twist staff and security. These guys rock! For a start, the Twist staff are arguably even bigger party monsters than their punters – they’re always out there on the dance floor avin it, or milling around and chatting to all the clubbers. They’re some of the friendliest people in the scene, they’ll always say hi to you and make time for a chat, they go out of their way to help other promotions (such as putting on a Twist bus to take people from Twist to Ricochet the next time it’s on in February) and they always look so bloody happy! Walking into the main room after a chill out in the grotto, I spy several of them going nuts to Rachel Auburn’s set. Not that I blame them. Rachel is the reigning Queen of bouncy Hard House and I’m quite happy to be a loyal subject. After catching numerous sets of hers at Ricochet I know all too well what to expect when she takes to the decks, and at just gone 11 on this fine Sunday morn there’s little chance for disappointment. Fantastic Thing, Bass Keeps Pumpin’, Prime Mover’s New Organism, Lisa Pin-Up’s It Goes Like This and Rachel’s own Kick and Come On. Ok, so it might be quite nostalgic but I love the variation from the dark sound of today and I equally love revelling in a little reminiscence (although I’d have to say that Kick is one of my favourite tunes from this year). If there’s one thing that’s undeniable about the original Hard House sound, it’s that it’s as catchy as hell – even Joe the bouncer looks like he’s seriously thinking about tapping his toe, hehehe!
See, that’s the other really cool thing. Not only are the bouncers not idiots, they’re actually genuinely friendly and cool people. I’ve NEVER seen any of them thrown their weight around, or be rude, or in fact be anything other than polite and courteous. Right from the moment you step into the club and meet Dave the doorman, you’re made to feel welcome, and not like you need to justify every move you make inside the club. It’s a gorgeously laid-back atmosphere that I’ve never found any cause to complain about.
Ok, I’ve presented all the evidence I have: the defence rests, yerr’onor. It’s time to head off for a quick shmoke and shower before Riot! And to think that Sundays used to be an almost write-off for afterparties… it’s a different case altogether nowadays. Maybe I am hopelessly biased… well ok, I’m UNQUESTIONABLY biased. But then I would be – I’ve been there.
Huge thanks to Steve and all the Twist crew for providing the best afterparty in town and just for generally being lovely and themselves, to Dave, Jo and all the security and staff at Fire for their respect, to Ting, Peter Ward, Danny Gilligan, Karim, Mrs Woods and Rod Towns for their great music and to all the fellow regular Twisters for all the endless mischief we continue to get up to.
With thanks to Amy, Anders and gUrngUrl for the use of their photos
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Other Features By bunny:
It's about music - interview with Alex Parsons
Monkey business as usual: interview with Shaf De Bass
Zoology's 2nd Birthday - Review!
becomeone: Unified in Sound - Review
Logic's Fourth Birthday - Hooray! (review)
The views and opinions expressed in this review are strictly those of the author only for which HarderFaster will not be held responsible or liable.
| From: Danny Gilligan on 20th Dec 2003 13:35.18|
Bunny that has to be the best review I have ever read of a club that reall is an amazing piece of writing, well done babe your a fucking legend!
From: Tiger on 20th Dec 2003 14:16.20
I just had this big grin on my face the whole time I was reading your review! Girl, you ARE and truly a LEGEND!
From: karl davis on 20th Dec 2003 16:12.14
Place sounds amazing u guys sure are lucky. wish we had places like that in Dublin, have to agree great piece of journalism
From: *Ting* on 20th Dec 2003 20:23.45
Fantastic review, but PLEASE my performance name is The *TING* !!!! ARGH!
From: fire club on 20th Dec 2003 22:47.11
Jeeez that must have taken you at least a year to write!!!!
Bunny Tolstoy eh. Yep I like that.
From: puffer on 22nd Dec 2003 09:54.08
Nice one Bunny......and much love and thanks to Steve and the crew for creating such a wonderful party!
From: MR_S on 22nd Dec 2003 12:24.51
Im mentioned! Can someone pass the tissue???
Now I see why it took so long to write!!
From: *Ting* on 22nd Dec 2003 12:49.07
You know the photos really do reflect the event. I haven't seen any 'normal' photos come out of the fire club.
From: Techno on 22nd Dec 2003 13:33.02
I love that review. Wicked piece of writing and certainly does Twist justice.
From: Jaffa Jim on 22nd Dec 2003 16:40.29
Got to agree - the review is incredibly detailed and, more importantly, a truthful reflection of what you'll find if you do find yourself venturing in there. I've only been twice in the new guise and would heartily recommend it to open-minded and unblinkered souls who fancy twisting the night (or day) away.
Great review of a great venue with an excellent Sunday morning party.
From: Ped on 22nd Dec 2003 16:51.27
From: londonclubber on 22nd Dec 2003 17:23.55
I knew she would blame me one day!
From: yayomayn on 22nd Dec 2003 17:49.51
Wicked review, you couldn't have put it any better!!! And that strobe light got a mention! That thing screws you up!!!
From: Bounce on 23rd Dec 2003 01:39.22
Love the club, love the review
From: Matt Church on 24th Dec 2003 04:40.12
Wicked review well done, sums it all up perfectly
From: lunatik on 25th Dec 2003 19:26.21
fucking awesome review hun... I'm all tingly sitting here; thinking about the next twist! - bring it on! fantastic work
From: Anastasia_k on 26th Dec 2003 10:54.39
Excellent review if you dont go after reading that there is no hope for ya
From: Annabel on 28th Dec 2003 20:42.45
It's all good...we all love Twist and we all love your review...
From: Bosch on 29th Dec 2003 20:19.43
Interesting review, I attended Twist on 28/12 - poss not the best weekend of the year to attend being between Xmas & NYE. However, it was fairly busy but did not find what I was expecting. Club a little grubby & homefed (but an improvement from prev owners efforts) Danny Gilligan was good but is there any need for *Ting* playing such grunge? I was expecting an experience like Trade @ Turnmills after reading this review but sadly is nothing like. All Londoners should come to Storm @ The Emporium in Coalville, Leics & see a club go rightoff!
From: DJ Anon on 30th Dec 2003 09:25.14
been to Twist after Tasty at Camden, thought it was one of the worst clubs i'd ever been to, whats with all the glitter balls and cheap decor!?!?!, thought I was in a 70's disco night club, the sound system aswell needing beefing up, was really hard to take a hard dance night seriously at such a pouncy club, so had to make a quick exit..oh dear!!
From: Pearsall on 31st Dec 2003 20:57.19
Bunny - the 'So Fucking What' tune was probably Arriba Sound System (Baby Doc & S-J) 'I Got Chucked Out' on Arriba. [/anorak]
From: papa_lazarou on 19th Jan 2004 01:51.33
Just seen this review - nice one m8 quality bit of work! Gotta love Twist!