Back Then with Ben Rayner

Looking Back at a Legendary UK Warehouse Party

Photographer Ben Rayner digs up his pictures from December 2006, including snaps from the first-ever Real Gold party, as well as pics from one of the Klaxons' first major gigs.

by Ben Rayner
04 December 2016, 2:30pm

Ben Rayner is a British-born, New York-based photographer who's collaborated with VICE since the early days of his career. Today, Rayner's known for shooting covers of famous people for fancy magazines, though a good chunk of his subjects are just mates he's known since long before they hit it big.

In our photo column, Back Then with Ben Rayner, the artist goes back into his film archive and picks a series of snaps that are ten years old to the month. The following photos are from December, 2006. This post originally appeared on VICE US

I got into the habit of shooting everything a couple of years before 2006. At the time, some of these images looked like throw-away party photos, but today they feel significant to me. The youthful energy makes me happy every time I revisit them.

The majority of the photos from this month's column come from a pre-Christmas warehouse party organised by Real Gold, an art collective that promotes events, releases records, and puts out various ephemera by creative folks. The collective is celebrating its tenth anniversary this month, and I was fortunate enough to attend "A Large Party," which was Real Gold's first-ever event. It was held at the Wallis Gallery space in Hackney Wick, and featured music by the record label Young Turks, Merok Records, producer Martin Cole (RIP), Jack Penate, and NTS Radio founder Mr. Wonderful. Lots of grime and rap.

Real Gold's parties always had the best DJs and best people turning up. And they were organised without any sponsors. You'd see a who's who of music, fashion, and art at them, but they were pretty underground, pretty word of mouth. I remember that night vividly: People just letting loose in an abandoned warehouse.

The other photos below come from "The Klaxons Rave" a few weeks later at a venue called SE1 (or SeOne), which closed in 2010. The Klaxons were getting some serious traction, despite only having released a couple singles at the time. They had just returned from their first large tour, and this concert was almost like a pre-holiday homecoming show. There are some snaps of a young Kate Nash and Dev Hynes at the gig, too. I became friends with the band through other friends, and I ended up going on tour with them. The energy at this show was amazing. Everyone was just having a really great time. I hope that energy comes through in these photos.

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Young lovers at the club.

This picture feels both dated and modern now. These guys are basically wearing the de facto grime uniform—Barbour jackets and New Era hats. The look went a bit BLING for a while, but recently seems to have gone back around to this street look again.

VICE's Bob Foster with Caius Pawson, who runs the record label Young Turks.

I used to work with these two girls at the shoe shop I mentioned in my last column. The girl on the right is a really great R&B singer named Fatima Bramme Sey who had some success in music.

DJ Bob Foster!!!

Suggs from Madness happened to turn up to Real Gold.

The artist Jack Bechtler and a friend.

Scott, a friend who I've known since I was very young. Love the sweater.

My friend Pegah at Real Gold.

Classic pissing off the balcony shot.

DJ Stuart Hammond (#stuarthammondreport), who was part of the OG Palace skate crew. I never remember him playing off records.

This was taken at the end of a Klaxons’ concert. The band was really blowing up and this was one of their first big shows. The album wasn't even out yet. There was a real great energy about the band.

Dev Hynes (of Blood Orange) and a young Kate Nash at the legendary Klaxons Rave.

The musician Kindness when he was really young at the bar Old Blue Last.

A photo that captures the vibe of Hackney Wick at the time.

I have no idea who this is.

Max and a friend. Strongbow Cider is an all-time rave classic.

I was obviously happy to see this person.

The Klaxons were just blowing up at this point, and this photo was taken at one of their first big shows. The concert was under the arches of London bridge. The nu rave look here is on point.

A young Kate Nash again. Love the jacket.

Dev Hynes (of Blood Orange) at the Klaxons show.

My housemate at the time. He had an amazing musical project called the Train Chronicles. I barely remember the couch.