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‘Date Weekend’

When my ridiculously good looking friend broke up with his long term girlfriend earlier this year, I was on it like a rat out of a trap. “I’ll go on a date with you,” I offered. “Fuck off. I’ll never go on a date with you,” he sneered in his West Country accent, trotting off in to the Hackney horizon in a pair of pinch rolled women’s jeans, a grotty pair of espadrilles and a stripey vest, his Brylcreamed quiff shining like a halo in the neon lights of the takeaways that line Mare Street. Fast forward six months. He’s changed his tune.

Our ‘date’ was spread over the entirety of the Bank Holiday Weekend. L.E.D Festival, OMG, SW4, Eastern Electrics and the Major Lazer Redbull party at carnival were all on our ‘to do list’. I warned him that by the end of this we’d probably hate each other. He sweetly replied that it was more likely that by the time came for us to say our final goodbyes, he would actually have developed genuine feelings for me. There was only one way to find out – let the date commence!

First stop on our ‘Date Weekend’ was L.E.D Festival. A new festival for London, this two-dayer promised some of the biggest names in dance music spread across two stages. Originally there were three, but co-promoter Cream pulled out due to ‘unforseen circumstances’. Whilst we were disappointed that 2/3 of the Swedish House Mafia wouldn’t be there (Sebastian Ingrosso and Axwell) we were too excited about what Tiga’s Planet Turbo stage had to offer us on the Friday to be too upset. Boy 8-Bit, Zombie Nation, Bloody Beetroots and of course Tiga himself, were all in attendance, along with Azari and III (said ‘third’).

I however, only really cared about one act that day. It wasn’t Soulwax who did live cover versions of Proxy’s Raven or Bart B More’s Brap, it wasn’t Audio Bullys nor Calvin Harris who produced a pumped up set of hits and dancefloor shakers. It was David Guetta, the world’s most loved (BEST) DJ and Kelly Rowland collaborator. It’s probably worth noting that on day 1 of ‘Date Weekend’ there were about 15 of us in attendance. We’re not swingers or in to polygamy, we just all love each other – and love getting ruined. But by the end of Guetta’s set, which packed in all of his current chart toppers including ‘Sexy Bitch’ and ‘I’ve Got A Feeling’, it was just me. I didn’t care and I hadn’t noticed, I’d been too occupied watching the petit superstar DJ on his 12m high neon platform and his robot dancers. Parfait!

Next stop was Shoreditch’s favourite boozer The Horse and Groom for OMG. It was a sunglasses themed party, and DJ Red Anna’s stream of 80s hits was the perfect ending to a fab day. Probably not the best place to be if you’re not a fan on Erasure though, you would have heard ‘A Little Respect’ at least three times.

The second day of Date Weekend had much to live up to and also the number of people on today’s installment of the date had increased to over forty. “Heard you cried at David Guetta you massive dick”, the newcomers taunted me. But their words bounced off in to oblivion, I was still super excited about dancing to Guetta’s sweet house sound that is three-parts guilty pleasure to one part gash. Amongst the attendees on today’s excursion were a couple who were on an actual date. Both blue eyed and blonde, I quipped to my date as we enjoyed a mojito in the VIP bar, “Don’t you just love it when you see two Aryans get together?” He paused for a moment before saying, “What? How do you know their star signs?” Aaah, and they say brains and beauty are mutually exclusive.

Saturday at L.E.D was always going to be a good day. Die Antwoord the satirical and creepy South African hip-hop act were playing, as was the mighty Aphex Twin. Rumours had begun to circulate earlier in the week that the two fucked up acts would be performing TOGETHER – and it didn’t matter who you talked to that day, the collaboration was a hot topic. Also on the bill in the Annie Mac curated tent were Professor Green, Sub Focus and Zinc. We didn’t see any of them, but if they were as good as Boy Better Know then it’s a dead cert that that would have been a happy tent. A small section of the tent was also really happy later on when a trio of teens thought it necessary to peel off their t-shirts, revealing muscular and well defined torsos. Girls began to queue up and have their photos taken with the fleshy adonises. Um… someone needed reminding we were in E9, NOT the Jersey Shore.

Die Antwoord did take to the stage with Aphex Twin, whose set was more jubilant than many had expected – gone was the slow building acid house set he was putting out last summer and in its place something upbeat and accessible with plenty of familiar hooks and samples, even Druqks’ ‘Voordhosbn’ got a sneaky play. The South African duo appeared on stage in romper suit style outfits, and performed some typically cringe inducing lyrics about being ‘Old enough to bleed, old enough to breed’ .

Earlier that day, Die Antwoord’s set on the main stage had drawn quite a crowd, people not sure what to make of Ninja and Yo-Landi (who looks like something that has fallen from the vagine of one of the creatures in the Windowlicker video) but pleased to see them, regardless. Opener Butterfly is even more ridiculous when watched live, but entertaining nonetheless. Headlining the mainstage was Leftfield, who I didn’t like very much. But apparently to say you didn’t enjoy Leftfield is like saying you think it’s OK that cat got put in a bin. People go apeshit. So, um, yeah, Leftfield were greaaaaat. Loved it…

Day three was a double up – SW4 and Eastern Electrics. “This is the hump,” I explained to my date. “We just need to smash SW4 and its plain sailing, we’ve made it through half way!” After L.E.D we had all trundled to a friend’s house – his sister was away so he was allowed friends over, woohoo – now it was 2pm and we were yet to work out how the hell we were going to get to Clapham. Sitting in KFC I gazed upon my friends’ faces, they were about as lively as their soggy Zinger burgers. Suddenly, there was a commotion. Someone had run in to the ‘restaurant’ and cracked someone over the back of the head with an umbrella! Blood pissed all over the already rotten floor as he turned and gave chase.

To be honest, the thought of going to Clapham frightened me a little bit. I’m not a Dalston twat (ok I am a bit) but I do have an aversion to girls who work as estate agents or who date boys who play rugby or people who say things like, ‘Ya and for India’s wedding I picked up the most darling little corsage in Whistles’ or ‘Oh mate, it’s just banter, rah ha ha’. But after seeing the umbrella incident, and worse than that, watch the man who was bleeding come back in to KFC and order his meal while his friend mopped up the claret with a serviette, suddenly I was happy to be going to dullsville.

It was a mission to get to Clapham, least of all as one of our party had ‘popped back to Southend for a shower and a nap’. Waiting for him in the mild south London sunshine, we were approached by a friendly but irritating lunatic. Carrying a polythene bag of snacks, he proudly told us that he’s rather listen to ‘an Englishman playing a lute than this crap’ as he pointed at the festival compound. Luckily for us he fucked off pretty quickly.

We didn’t expect SW4 to end at 9pm, so when we finally rocked up at the entrance at 6.30pm we knew there was only one way to spend the next hour and a half – watching Boys Noize in the BNR tent. We had missed Housemeister, ShadowDancer, A-Trak and the lovely Erol Alkan, but the German label boss and techno fiend was on fine form – as usual. He churned out Bart B More’s Brap, as well as his own tracks & Down, Oh and Lava Lava. The crowd was pounding like an angry fist, pulsating with the bass and wooping with sheer delight. When his set drew to an end we were sad, but jubilant; annoyed that we had trekked all the way to Clapham for only 90 minutes but really pleased we had been there.

Instead of MY idea of going to a Wetherspoons in Southwark to get lashed pre-Eastern Electrics, it was decided that we would go to Brick Lane. After meeting a crackhead with a bad arm – he needed money for a cab to get to hospital – surely you’d just get an ambulance and save yourself a fiver – we went to Vibe Bar. Time passed quickly here as we watched people enjoy getting pissed on a Sunday, and soon we had to head south again to Union Street Car Park.

Excitement was high, this cavernous space, tucked away like some sort of raver’s Narnia, is an amazing venue and one that is always worth the trouble to find. It was only after nearly an hour of trying to find it that we realised that Eastern Electrics wasn’t being held at Union Street car park at all but about 15 minutes away at Ewer Street. Still, it was worth the hunt, and as we met a variety of equally lost but enthusiastic morons trying to navigate their way through deep dark SE1, it became easier to put to the back of my mind that mulletover were hosting Room One. The last time I went to one of their nights their brand of tribal house made me feel like I had regressed back in to being an ape and I wanted to check people’s heads for insects to snack on. I had extra reason to avoid mulletover this time as they were sharing room curating duties with Kompakt Records, which is great if you like minimal, but bad if you think its stripped down bleeps are a total waste of time and more grating than a skidding child across a gravel playground.

Luckily Room Two gave me everything my increasingly fatigued heart desired. Hosted by Resident Advisor, Scuba and Joy Orbison took people to a happy, bassy place, and next door Dirtybird Records gave people an excuse to ‘get wonky’. Claude Von Stroke was the big pull in here, and at one point the several-thousand capacity venue appeared to be about to burst. I eventually got sick of people and decided it was time to leave, after all, my date and I had to be in Notting Hill in less than 8 hours for the final part of Date Weekend.

Unsurprisingly the final part of Date Weekend was never realised. Despite our best intentions and our confident statements of, ‘Well if we have to take three buses to get there then we will, it’s not an issue’, it WAS an issue and we bailed on the last day. Of course, we’re gutted we missed out, everyone said that Major Lazer was the best thing they had seen all year, and I would have loved to bookend my Bank Holiday Weekend with Guetta at one end and Diplo and Switch at the other. Perhaps though, it was for the best. I really wouldn’t have known what to say when my friend told me he wanted us to do Date Weekend full time… actually, who am I kidding? He woulda seen this hot piece of ass with moves so slick she makes a slinky look clunky and forgotten I was even there. Bastard.

Words: Kara Simsek
Photos: Henry Knock



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