It’s 6am and we are all exhausted but happy. London has been treating us with a few days of real summer: blue skies and warm temperatures, finally. It’s a lovely morning and I feel the sun on my skin when I exit Corsica Studios, where I have spent the last seven hours dancing the night away with my friends. As usual, front left corner of Room 1 was ours, a tiny chosen space that we feel like almost owning. “You stay, I go out for a smoke” is our tacit agreement and our way to keep watch of that space. The night is not over yet. Or the day, maybe better? Definitions don’t serve anymore. It’s Sunday already, but we are off to another adventure: Corner afterhours. “We are not going to stay till the end”: we keep repeating one to the other. We have been dancing since midnight already.

The third edition of Corner, the newly born London afters at Pickle Factory, will showcase the Athens-based label, Vanila Records: I have never seen them playing before but having listened to their sets many times, I am very excited and curious of the day ahead. We jump on an Uber and we all leave towards East London: we are a mixed group, good old friends and a few new entries just met at Corsica Studios. That’s also why I love techno: this often happens and always feels so natural.

We enter the intimate Pickle Factory to find it already variously populated. Our friend Eleusynia Mysteria is on opening duties, so we take over the front row and start dancing. There we find people who just woke up and came early for support, together with all the ravers slowly joining from the many parties of the night before. The crowd keeps growing while our friend wisely builds a powerful techno crescendo. It’s sunny outside and people are lazing around the terrace, sunbathing, smoking or chatting. We have a coffee sitting on the cosy couches of the bar, someone is eating pancakes: perfect way to chill before entering the main room. Everyone is smiling, everyone knows each other or if not, newcomers are welcomed in any group. It’s London techno scene: it feels intimate, pure and authentic. It feels like family. It’s time to dance now and through the heavy door we are back on the dancefloor, taking over the front row again, while the set of local Tcher starts. The room is becoming hot, foggy and crowded: proper after vibes. Tropical plants hang from the ceiling, only thing I can see clearly in this already sweaty darkness. Our metropolitan jungle.

“We are not going to stay till the end”: we keep repeating one to the other. We keep dancing and we don’t look at the clock anymore.

The Greek madness begins at 11am when ANFS starts his mind-blowing performance. It’s all I expected and a bit more: one of the best live acts I have seen in London this year. It’s raw, heavy, distorted but at the same time tremendously danceable. Our heads keep twisting in the darkness, all together, sweating the tiredness out. Everyone is  smiling, everyone is moving, in a relentless dance marathon of unprecedented intensity. Noisy, almost disturbing in its decaying beauty, his sound seems to picture the Athenian skyline, made of concrete blocks opposing the classic lure of the Acropolis. These raw beats seem to mirror a stasis mind-set, the darkness a feeling of frustration, although somehow charged with a desire of change, a strong willpower. It is anarchy within boundaries. This techno is Greece itself. ANFS is testing our bodies, controlling our movement when pushing the boundaries of his sound to invade other genres. Then he abruptly comes back to his pure techno essence. “We are not going to stay till the end”: we keep repeating one to the other. We keep dancing.

It’s midday and we have just taken a few breaks from the dancefloor: toilet, smoking area and back there. We can’t stop. There’s a strange force in that sweaty room that makes me forget how long we have been up, how long we have been dancing. There’s sweat, there’s love, big genuine smiles on our faces, illuminated by the rays of this weak London sun coming through the only skylight of the room. It’s SAWF’s turn now and the madness is not over. Not quite yet. “We are not going to stay till the end”: we keep repeating one to the other. We keep dancing.

The room is packed and the little space between our dancing bodies is filled by sound: it’s everywhere, powerful, raw, industrial, distorted and inclusive. We are all here to join this techno march in the jungle. It feels like a ritual, creating bonds with everyone in this room. It feels like Greece, a bond-oriented society I know very well: everyone taking care of each other, open smiles, happy faces, music, a timeless gathering. My gym wear is soaking while I am throwing shapes without caring of the time passing, of a new week approaching, of this pure madness that feels so natural. “We are not going to stay till the end”: we keep repeating one to the other. We keep dancing.

It gets more and more insane, utterly wild and infused with the strongest vibes I have felt in an afterhours. It looks like it’s never going to end. We take small breaks, everybody is still here, no one left: it’s impossible despite the exhaustion, the heat, the time. It’s almost 3pm when SAWF drops a last banger that brutally interrupts the dancing madness and sends everyone home. It’s over. We are exhausted, but happy. That smile is still on our faces.

Photos: Larry J


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