Valentine's Day is a tricky one. Part of you wants to decry it as nothing more than an excuse for shops to sell cards and make a quick buck on grotty knickers and chocolates, while the other part of you is desperate to be given a card, a bunch of flowers, and a quick fumble in the back row of the cinema.
A day in which that old devil, love, is celebrated should be celebrated by us all – single or "it's complicated" alike. The key to doing Valentine's well is to realize that you can go further than a bottle of bubbly and a bubble bath, that stuffing yourself into a table for two in a terrible restaurant isn't the only option available to the amorous.
Those lucky enough to be in London this weekend can take their better half (or themselves) to Hackney's Oslo where Hivern Discs' master of Marc Piñol will be spinning to a sea of lovelorn clubbers on Saturday night. The DJ and occasional producer knows a thing or two about how to service a dancefloor that's teeming with doe-eyed couples and dewy-eyed singletons.
"I'm a bit too old for romance, really," Pinol admits. "But like everyone, I think I'd appreciate getting some flowers and some chocolates on Saturday. I've tried to find a few romantic records that I can slip in to my set without it being too cheesy. I've got a couple of old house tracks and a few disco ones that might work. You never know though. If it doesn't feel right, I'm not going to play them."
Piñol's sets are always saturated with the melancholic end of the dance spectrum—tear-sodden jams for the soloists out there—so it is unsurprising that as a DJ he favours emotional manipulation over technical pyrotechnics.
DJing goes beyond technique," he says. "It might be a little pompous to speak of a connection with a crowd, but watching them, thinking about what they think of you is something that works on an emotional level."
In those most synergized of moments, Piñol can take the most risks. "I can play weird music, go really far out, when we're working emotionally together," he explains. "You have to be confident in yourself to do that. I try to find what people like, what they want, then a little later I try to get to a place where the weirdness can happen."
How weird are we talking?
"I think I want to play Gina X Performance's 'Nice Mover' on Saturday," he confesses. "I think it's a twisted love song about transgender sex and stuff. You can hear it's emotional but it's not overdone. That's the key."
That kind of intimacy, that level of emotional pull, Piñol believes, can be as inherent to an instrumental track as it is to a wailing diva stomper. "I think that a lot of tracks can have that impact without the involvement of a human voice. There's a Stacey Pullen one called 'Forever Monna' with Chez Damier from 1995. It's just an instrumental, and I play it a lot at the moment. It's just typical house chords with a simple rhythm, and that rhythm speaks of the track's feeling. It kills me and it kills the crowd."
Piñol's interpretation of romance is tinged with an introspective hint of the sombre. "I'm not interested in uplifting love songs," he says. "I'm pretty nostalgic about the topic. I want to be romantic and sad at the same time."
Marc's planning on getting you all misty eyed tomorrow night so why not sack of the choccy and join him on the dancefloor at this: