This post ran originally on THUMP UK.
Giles Smith and James Priestley are two of the most respected DJs and promoters in club culture, and rightly so. Since the dawn of the new millennium they've been running secretsundaze, one of the UK's most cherished and inclusive parties—a permanently shimmering beacon in a sea of gunmetal grey mediocrity.
January saw the pair release a fantastic new compilation that showcases the kind of house you can expect at one of their nights. Featuring material by the likes of Shanti Celeste, Fred P, and DJ Qu, Dance 2017 is an essential purchase for anyone with any semblance of interest in contemporary house music, and you'd expect nothing less than immaculate selection from Smith and Priestley, would you?
To celebrate the release of that compilation—and 15 years of incredible parties run with spirit, verve, and an unceasing devotion to making sure everyone involved has the best fucking time possible—the pair have very kindly delivered us a pristine recording of a recent set at The Pickle Factory, and yep, it is just as good as you're imagining it is. So, tuck into four hours of ecstatic, sweaty, closer than close house, and see what two of the scene's most respected selectors make of the state of dance music—and dancing itself—in 2017.
THUMP: The world's in tatters...what can we, as clubbers as consumers of this culture, do to repair it?
Secretsundaze: Clubbing in its most positive form can bring communities and people together and aid social mobility—helping people to move out of difficult situations through positive experiences. Celebrating life and being positive in life doesn't repair the world but it really can help to ease the pain! As human beings in general, on a micro level in every day life, small gestures spreading positivity, tolerance, acceptance and love do make a difference. On a slightly bigger scale contributing to events to promote all of the above and charitable events are things we can do to help and give a voice to good works or people less fortunate than ourselves. On a macro level its not really about us as clubbers or consumers of this culture but as citizens of the world. It's been really heartening to see the numbers of young people willing to mobilize and dedicate time to marching. Demonstrating to make statements against poor decisions, legislation and so forth.
Does "club culture" truly exist in 2017?
Culture is defined as "a way of life, especially the general customs and beliefs or a particular group of people at a particular time." A Club is defined as "a group of people organized for a common purpose, especially a group that meets regularly." Both of these definitions feed into each other and refer to shared purpose or beliefs.
Club culture clearly still exists it's just changed in nature. In the 80s you might equate club culture with clubs like The Wag and The Blitz that were fairly pioneering musically and socially where young creative people went to have fun, connect and express themselves. Now it seems that large clubs and festivals are dominant over the smaller more personal club scene. However you can turn it on its head—there were huge commercial discos in the 1980s and there are still underground gatherings in places like Tottenham, basements in Dalston in 2017, you just might not always hear about them. A good example of a great club in 2017 with a regular crowd that promotes inclusiveness, self expression and positivity might be Horse Meat Disco. Another point to make might be that the dance music scene has very much developed and you may have to look harder to find underground rootsy enclaves but with other genres and types of club culture are very much alive and kicking. We loved reading the piece in the cool new publication The Move about Club HQ recently—a dancehall club in Montego Bay.
Is mixing better than painting? Or writing? Or dancing itself?
Mixing and dancing is a pretty good combination! We like to dance while DJing, not hands in the air, Michael Jackson, Christ like postures, but just enjoying the music and connecting with the crowd. There is a lack off that these days with DJs taking themselves very seriously. Also actually participating in the party post or pre set and getting involved on the other side of the turntables or giving credit to resident DJs is underrated. There is a worrying separation between many DJs and the crowd and of course this is all linked to big clubs and high up stages where DJs are elevated. Talking of mixing it's a great thrill to have two records running perfectly in sync with each other and when they really gel, potentially even being greater than the sum of the two separate parts. This has given us many moments of joy over the years but it's not the be all and end all and sometimes an obsession with perfect beat matching can become tedious and at the expense of other qualities. Its great that with the increase in popularity of people like Floating Points and of course Theo Parrish, young people are learning that sometimes the music, selection and presentation is more important than the mix.
Sing us a love song to the Pickle Factory...
We are close to 18 months into our monthly residency at The Pickle Factory and we can say hand on heart it's the club in recent years in London where we most feel like going back to. The sound and set up for DJIng is spot on. We actually don't use the beautiful hand made booth the Pickle Factory have created used by most promoters and DJs there as we feel it slightly obscures the connection with the crowd so we use a fairly basic table top that can be prone to bumps n knocks but really allows and for a better exchange of energy. Due to its fairly intimate size we don't need to invite guest DJs and play the whole eight hours ourselves each month. This has really helped us reconnect at a much deeper level with our DJing once more and bring out the best in us, so we are very grateful to be able to use the space. The staff also seem to have a good time there and this is endemic of a great clubbing experience. One of the lighting staff Ronaldo regularly requests to work double shifts across day and night so he can participate in the party. This is indeed something special to cherish.
Finally, what have Secretsundaze got up their sleeves this year?
Dance 2017, our first label compilation, has just been released on double CD and digital. The CD comes in 2 parts with an unmixed and a mixed version. The mixed version was recorded live at The Pickle Factory. There will be a series of Dance 2017 12's on the label which will focus on various EPs. Part 1 has been out for while and features Nubian Mindz, Fred P and Aybee. Part 2 is out at the beginning of May with DJ Slyngshot, Bastien Carrara and Jayson Wynters, a Birmingham based producer and DJ. Parts 3 and 4 will feature Henry Wu, Palms Trax, and more.
The mainline Secretsundaze label has quite a bit going on with Global EP Endian's follow up to Finish Me out now, with a futuristic sci-fi A-side track 'XS10' for the more adventurous DJs. Then SECRET022 will be a Fred P record Instinctive Rhythms with three dope tracks. Next there will be a stunning EP from Solune a French artist who used to run the Bass Cadet store in Berlin. We're also in the process of tying up a Patrice Scott EP and hopefully there will be the first material released by us under the Secretsundaze name. We have of course both released separately individually but not together.
We have some bigger parties lined up separately to Secretsundaze All Night Long at The Pickle Factory, which will be under the Dance 2017 banner namely our big bank holiday session in April with Funkineven, Ge-ology and Henry Wu, plus John Gomez and Sam Don on the terrace early doors. Then we have two "Off" parties in Barcelona on Saturday 17th at Parc Del Forum with Joe Claussell, Fred P, Palms Trax, Henry Wu, and more to be announced. Then the next day on the Sunday 18th we go back to back all night with Mister Saturday Night at La Terrrazza. We're really looking forward to playing with them again after a back to back last year in Croatia.
Last up we are very happy to announce that we'll be launching a monthly show on NTS on Thursday's from 4pm to 6pm. The first will take place on Thursday, March 23.