For most of us, clubbing either takes place in a freezing cold warehouse that's had a bar shunted into one corner for the night, or in pristinely grim sweatboxes with designated smoking areas and roped off VIP areas. Both have their advantages but, sadly, both occasionally feel like compromises. Sometimes, you want something rawer, something less clinical, something real and vibrant, somewhere that feels like a hedonistic pleasure palace that functions primarily as a party space. You want the buzz and hum of a house party with the heft and weight of a traditional club space.
In a way, Hotbox, housed an ex-squat in the never-trendy enclaves of Aldgate in east-ish London, does just that. In an age of blandly good clean fun, it offers an alternative. The parties there — which have seen members of Night Slugs and Trax Couture roll through for blistering sets — are raucous, riotous affairs, a kind of return to what partying was and a reminder of how potent it can still be.
Founded by Radar Radio DJ Vladimir Strabykin, aka Lokiboi, and Rodrigo Mikascisti (aka Raro), the party's taken over a space that was left to rot and transformed it — something that's more vital than ever during a period of escalating remapping of the capital's sites of nightspot worship. "The party itself felt influenced by what's going on in Berlin," Strabykin tells me. "There was a slightly freaky atmosphere, a lot of red lights, a very open crowd and a lot of drugs going about." Sounds pretty perfect, right?
We decided to speak to Vladimir, Rodi and fellow party planner Becky Strauch, and in addition to that we've got the guys to put together a mix for us that replicates the kind of sounds one can expect to hear at a heaving Hotbox one of these nights.
THUMP: What goes on inside when there's no Hotbox happening?
Rodrigo Mikascisti We've built up a creative community inside the space, Hotbox is our latest and most exciting project. First and foremost it's our home, when there isn't a rave on in our basement we also use it for exhibitions, workshops, video and photo shoots, martial arts classes and other random things.
Does London have many other parties that compare to it?
Rodrigo: Definitely not, no. We created something unique.
Becky Strauch: I think the scene is really dry these days and that we've brought back something that used to exist, but in a more intimate setting.
What do we need to do to ensure that London remains a premiere party destination?
Vladimir Strabykin: Personally I think that London is going through big changes again, it certainly has reached it's peak. Nowadays we have around 200 parties in London over the weekend, obviously the one that has the craziest line up "wins". Hotbox felt like a proper warehouse party in central London.
Rodrigo: London is a really good party destination…just not a premiere one. It's probably "just" a money problem.
Is there a music policy at Hotbox?
Rodrigo: As I said London is missing something in terms of underground clubbing experience at the moment. The main need today is to go back to being as organic as possible, to save and share something concrete. We want to collect the people that come and shares skills and ideas and who believe in a stronger need for underground movements as a way of challenging society.
We created a party which tries to present vinyl DJ sets and analog performance only, but we've still had a few digital live music and visual sets. Individualism is in extinction, so we ask people to bring their personality and not to think too mainstream.
Our guestlist is restricted to a personal selection of the individuals who come and will enjoy with us our first drops of freedom.
Have you had many big names down to play?
Vladimir: Akito (Trax Couture), Frank.Co (Dalston Superstore), Venice Calypso (FOF) Vlad G & Ahsan from Holic, FIY Chris (Rhythm Section/Church) Pedro Santana aka Zoidfactory….and obviously Lokiboi & Raro!
What's your favourite EVER Hotbox moment?
Becky: When at 4am as the party was dying down the drag queens of Dalston Superstore suddenly arrived en masse for an afterparty.
Vladimir's also sent over a stash of snapshots from recent events, so why not have a scroll through and pretend you were there.