When lightening struck in NYC in 1977 nobody could have predicted what the Blackout unleashed. The tensions of economic struggles, serial murders, and a brutal heatwave lashed out. It was time for action. Time to express. Time to to be free. And everything changed.
Our time has come Shoreditch 2010. Blackout is the coming together of two hedonistic East End parties, CALIGULA and HOT BOY DANCING SPOT, uniting the things both hold in common - wild nights, hot crowds and sexy music - to a new level of debauch pleasure. It's our time to release.
Fuck being skint.
Fuck the mindless attacks.
Fuck the fact our heatwave never actually arrives! It's time to express whoever and whatever we are.
On Saturday 21st August, in a tunnel warehouse under Kingsland Rd bridge, the smell of sweaty crotches will seep through hip hanging denim; drenched t-shirts and vests clinging to sleazy bodies; make-up dripping off slipped-wig trannies; lipstick smears on everyone's faces and nobody caring who it came from. The boundaries to unlocked fantasies will be explored and personal limitations ignored.
Lightening lasers striking across the strobing dancefloor as everyone humps to the deepest, filthiest music the dirty minded DJs keep pumping into them. Dancers and prancers cavorting whilst others chew the fat and play together in the intimate caverns hidden around the corner.
BLACKOUT! And when the power's cut everyone will be charged for action. Electricity buzzing in the darkness, permeating every corner of the room, as hands fumble over friends and strangers hungry for adventure. Insane laughter, begging groans and shocked gasps will be the only thing to hear through sweaty rustling. The lights are out and our minds are open.
In a Blackout anything can happen!
|Caligula: Street Crime & Style in London 2010 (interview) |
"Last week I was physically attacked when I was with some friends on Hackney Road. It was by some narrow-minded morons who seemed to want any excuse to vent their anger. There is a real underlying tension here in London and it's often targeted at the queers and dress ups."
Chatting about his latest brush with homophobic thugs, Caligula promoter Jim Warboy (Facebook: http://tinyurl.com/3yscnob ) is impressively insouciant, particularly since just two years earlier 20 year old London art student and 'dress-up' Olly was left crippled after being stabbed 7 times and left for dead by a Bengali street gang, yards from where Jim was punched.
Though random street crime sadly continues to represent a real threat for clubbers in Shoreditch and Hoxton, Jim and the hundreds of flamboyant fashionistas flocking to his club du jour Caligula remain undeterred and as Jim points out, local police are increasingly helpful.
"The police responded very quickly and they are taking this kind of situation very seriously now. I also had a lot of help from the staff at the George and Dragon nearby and it's good to know that there is some sense of community and support around the area," he says.
"Dressed up people have always been targets of these morons and it's always worth following your common sense in how to minimise the amount of hassle you get. The most important bit is that nobody should have the right to deter someone amazing from being themselves," he urges,
12 months after it started, Jim's club Caligula (which he co-promotes with Brazilian stylist and man-about-town Leo Belicha [Facebook: http://tinyurl.com/2w42tlc ]) attracts London's most flamboyant and glamorous crowd (including Bjork last week) though Jim himself is remarkably quiet and unassuming. A constant fixture on London's alternative queer scene since co-running Matthew Glamorre's uber-influential club of the noughties Kashpoint, he's dropped the latter's (dreadful) experimental music emphasis and equally significantly its door policy which banned anyone who failed to dress to excess.
"The door policy is important at Caligula, as it should be at any club. But door policies come in all shapes and sizes," he muses.
"Caligula has always been known for having a very mixed crowd. We have a very fashionable crowd but also attract many other people who aren't that interested in fashion. One of the key ideas behind Caligula from the start was to create a diverse crowd. I believe that's where the interesting things happen in London. It is too easy to end up with a club for of the same 'type' of people. Why shouldn't we have a club which pushes beyond the boundaries? I love seeing gay boys dancing with straight boys, trannies getting bottles of champagne off City boys, and seasoned veterans swapping ideas with the fresh faced newbies," he smiles.
And music-wise they've also avoided the cheesy pop and achingly amateurish DJs booked by most of London's club kid parties of the last few years, instead inviting guest DJs such as Secretsundaze chief James Priestley and uber-cool Brazilian techno god Renato Cohen, backed by residents Jim and London based Brazilian Monica Soldan (http://tinyurl.com/385htmz ).
"Renato had come to Caligula earlier in the year and wanted to play for us. He completely understood that Caligula is not a techno club and that the music policy allows a lot of freedom for DJs to experiment," Jim explains.
"Although he's known as a techno DJ he's actually extremely versatile and has been playing sets in Sao Paulo that incorporate other genres like disco for example. His set at Caligula was incredible and he managed to take people on a real journey through a range of ideas."
"The music policy at Caligula is broadly Disco, Hi-NRG and house but the fact we have a dancefloor club at our new home at Basing House means that we can now push it deeper. The music is not completely retro - we play lots of current new music too. There is a certain vibe at Caligula - usually involving a good amount of vocals - and we tend to have sets that mix things up a bit. There is no point in us trying to recreate a music policy that people can get at loads of other club nights," he notes.
"Are we pushing dubstep or tropical? No," he smiles, "they're not really genres that conjure up the mood of Caligula. Our crowd aren't really into that thing."
"One of the amazing things about London is that it's a big, diverse city and people can have the option to go to all sorts of nights. On top of the disco and Hi-NRG background to Caligula we are pushing in more acid and old school house that is reminiscent of older, sleazy New York City clubs mixed with that twisted East London vibe that brings it up to date."
Jonty Skrufff (http://bit.ly/dxsq9w ): You've just moved to Basing House, the seminal Hoxton club formerly known as On the Rocks, how did the move come about? How long was it in the planning?
Caligula (Jim Warboy): "After a year at the last venue we felt it was time to shake Caligula up when we were offered Basing House. It seemed like the right move at the right time. The venue has a long reputation of being home to some amazing nights, most notably Trailer Trash, but it has now undergone some significant improvements. For starters it has a new sound system and dancefloor which means we can really develop Caligula as a serious dance club. What's more we can fill it with smoke, a rare thing in clubs nowadays. By the time it's filled with smoke and Caligula's horny red lighting our DJs have the opportunity to really push the music and the crowd can just be free to go wild. Plus we now have a secluded smoking terrace, and even more secluded loft area where people can get even naughtier. The response has been phenomenal since we started there."
Skrufff: You latest recent press release emphasizes the sexual possibilities at Caligula: how much is Caligula an easier place to find sex than regular dance clubs?
Caligula (Jim Warboy): "It should be easy to find sex in all clubs - it's one of the strongest underlying foundations of nightlife. We encourage people to get sociable and sexual. Caligula is the kind of club where people surprise themselves. I've seen people going home with people that I'm sure they would never have expected. This is the 21st century in Central London. Sexual identity labels were important in the last century. Now is the time for people to go beyond them - to be free, to explore their own minds and other people's too. Caligula wants to give a helping hand."
Skrufff: You came up promoting Kash Point in the mid 00s; how does Caligula and Kash Point compare? Does Matthew Glamorre pop in?
Caligula (Jim Warboy): "Being involved with Matthew and joining him on Kash Point was a great experience. Caligula, All You Can Eat, and Kash Point are all clubs I've been intimately involved with and each one has been very different in terms of music and fashion styles but all of them have been committed to giving their crowd something good and something different to what has been previously been on offer. I think the longer Caligula has been around the more people realised that it is also as provocative and determined to not settle into a niche as the previous nights I've been involved with.
Matthew comes to Caligula when he's gets time off his busy schedule. He's working very hard with Bishi and we were lucky enough to have her come and perform at Caligula's first birthday. It's great to have a family like that in London."
Skrufff: How do you see the London scene comparing now and then?
Caligula (Jim Warboy): "I think the start of the Noughties had a great buzz around it and things really opened up in terms of experimentation - both in clubs and music. This unleashed electroclash and then nu rave. The past few years have seen a more sober mood and I think a lot of the earlier optimism has become jaded amongst clubbers. They realise that London is a tough, expensive city to survive in. However, I also think that 2010 has seen some real shifts starting to occur. Fresh ideas are starting to come through and that continuous reinventing is what makes London such a success giving birth to new ideas."
Skrufff: London gets ever more expensive, what impact is that having on nightlife in the city? And on your scene in particular?
Caligula (Jim Warboy): "People in the UK are always obsessed with the price of things, and now more than ever. I have always tried to make my nights affordable and good value for money. I'm sure the bigger clubs have felt the knock on effects of the changing economic situation than I have."
http://www.facebook.com/caligulauk (Caligula - now every Friday night in Shoreditch: Basing House 25 Kingsland Road, E2 8AA: Ł5 before midnight. Ł7 after: James Priestley spins tonight (August 20): early arrival is essential)
Jonty Skrufff (http://bit.ly/dxsq9w )
The constant stream of go-to-bed yawns,
Online flatline - past my bedtime,
I can't help thinking as I see the light,
So much for an early night!