Fifteen years is a long time in any business, never mind in the fast-paced world of dance music where trends are born, grow and wither in the blink of an eye. Doing this whilst straddling the underground/mainstream divide, no matter how anachronistic this sounds in the post-internet world, is even harder. But, happy birthday CHIBUKU, you pulled off a banger of a party.
Partying in the day has always been a strange concept, and relatively hard to pull off when most of the punters are used to getting sweaty and dancing ‘til their trainers are worn through at 4am, rather than 4pm. Whatever, Chibuku manage this seamlessly with an early salvo of JOHN MCANDREW going back to back RICH FURNESS warming up the crowd in the Furnace, before and DAVE ‘RAM JAM’ RODIGAN brings his anything-goes approach to selecting. From reggae to dancehall, dubstep to Aaliyah, Rodigan knows how to get them dancing. No matter how fun Ram Jam is, Furness and McAndrew’s carefree choices bring the night to a head, especially the Blue Monday segue into Born Slippy .NUXX which has people nearly kicking the ceiling. And that’s no mean feat in the vast Furnace. Later on in the evening, the trouble people have getting in to see DJ EZ is offset by ANNIE MAC’s crowd-pleasing choices; although her piano-house set holds no revelations or surprises, the audience laps it up.
The smaller Camp section of the three-tiered daytime offering holds the more underground oriented Abandon Silence room, and opening the night FOUR TET carries on his foray into dance music. Four Tet before 4pm is an alarming idea but he pulls it off amazingly well considering the time, with the energy in the room second to none. The rest of the night is led by the tastemaker DJs. This has been lost in recent years, and it is refreshing to see its return. JACKMASTER’s immaculate mixing and selection stands in stark contrast to the relaxed selection of his Can U Dance outfit with Oneman (a no show for the night); Jackmaster doesn’t care what you want to hear like Annie Mac does, it’s all about what they want to show you. The same is true of BEN UFO and JOY ORBISON b2b GEORGE FITZGERALD, who all oscillate seamlessly through the techno subgenres.
Clearly this crowd differs wildly from those in the main room, with those in Camp revelling joyously in the DJ’s effortlessly tasteful selections, as opposed to the big room bangers satisfyingly lapped up in the Furnace. And that’s the great thing about the behemoth that is Chibuku: there is something for everyone whilst still maintaining relevance with a commitment to hosting the finest mainstream and cutting edge dance music have to offer. Fifteen more years!