Closer’s annual Maslyana event was a grand rehearsal before the summer season of love and parties

    The Ghost during their Saturday set at Maslyana. Photo by Roman Ketkov

    The weather during that weekend in Kyiv suited the mood of the party perfectly. Up to +10 degrees (not great, not terrible) and constant but not yet warm sunshine could fill everyone with the hope that this COVID-19 atomic winter would finally end very soon. You couldn’t expect more at the start of Spring in Ukraine anyway.

    You couldn’t expect an event that big from Closer before its announcement either – after rescheduling and canceling all their big festivals, doing just the small irregular parties with the constantly emergency line-up changes because of illnesses of artists or their problems at the borders, many people didn’t believe until the end that this one would go as planned. Oh, how wrong they were…

    What was planned – 2 days, 3 locations, 11 artists and the biggest crowd since… Actually, since the last Maslyana – Closer’s own edition of the old Slavic folk holiday and of their usual annual in-club events (like Strichka Festival, The Masquerade, birthdays of Closer and Lesnoy Prichal or the New Year celebration). The bravest dancers probably thought about 48 hours of partying – and they were almost right about it.

    Entrance on the location of the first part of the event. Photo by Roman Ketkov

    Picking the very unusual time for the start of the party – 12:00 of Saturday, the Closer crew, probably, took a risk in some way (it is a very weird feeling to see a notification from Facebook, that your party is going to start soon at 11:00, must say). But, as we could see later, taking that risk was totally worth it.

    The party started at Kureni – and if you hear that name for the first time – it’s ok since usually it works as a nice old restaurant with a great view on the Dnipro river. Until last summer when Closer considered that place for their daytime/evening series «Kyiv Vechirnii» [Evening Kyiv]. Jane Fitz, Francesco Del Garda, Nicolas Lutz, Phil Weeks and many others played there during the warm season.

    So, at 12:00, probably after a fine breakfast, two of the best selectors in Ukraine – Borys, and Noizar started the party with their signature b2b. I bet, it’s not a very unusual time for them to play, but definitely, a very unusual role that goes with that time. Anyway, they did their job smoothly – the mood for the whole weekend was set.

    The Ghost during their set at Kureni. Photo by Pavlo Fedoriv

    From one selector to the others – The Ghost were ready to pick up that mood easily. The Berlin-based crew were, probably, the most expected guests – it could be easily seen from the reactions on the dancefloor during their set and heard in the conversations with them after it (they were easy to catch since after the set they were dancing in the crowd… almost constantly). Taking the 15:00-18:00 spot, they filled it with the mellow grooves of all kinds of house adding and taking some light broken beats to it. As Borys said to me later: “They are probably the best in the world in this kind of music”. And just after I thought it would be just a fine regular set from two great diggers – THIS happened…

    …and turned the “fine regular set from two great diggers” into a “very unusual performance from two great diggers and a folk ensemble”. Who knew that the traditional Ukrainian songs would fit the rare house records that well? (one more proof here) The girls from the «Щука-Риба» [Pike-Fish] ensemble did their job as well as The Ghost, making the crowd scream almost every time they finished their songs. And, what’s more important – the mood of the set did not break at all.

    After that, between 18:00 and 19:00 Evan Baggs took the perfectly pre-heated crowd into his own journey. The sun was hiding, it became colder and the music just had to become much more energetic. He replaced the mellow grooves of The Ghost with his own filthy basslines and spacey mood, continuing their rhythm. The crowd was very happy to hear this tune by Dude Energy (probably, they heard it in Evan’s latest podcast for Dimensions Festival). Also, if you’re interested to hear some more tracks – the EP by Riccardo on Time Passages and the newest one from Clut Communication were spotted. And, while Evan continued to do everything he wanted with the crowd, some of them were ready to jump into another location…

    The night at Closer started at 22:00, when Evan Baggs was still playing at Kureni. Also a very unusual time for this club, but it was equalized with the people who started. A family couple of Closer residents Shakolin and Karine represented, as some might say – the original sound of Closer. The hypnotic and minimalistic grooves, that are the perfect background for the very long slowdancing and also the signature thing of the early Closer. These two could play the whole night easily, but, according to the plan, the Priku and Dan Andrei duo were in charge of the second part of the night.

    Rare thing here – the photo from the inside of Closer during the event. Captured by Roman Ketkov

    As Closer’s Serhiy Yatsenko commented before the event: “With the music, like they’re playing, it will be easy to dance until the Monday morning”. This was not the plan, must say. The plan was “until the Sunday morning” since they had to fill the second part of the night in Closer. And they did their job perfectly too – the only word I can use here is “signature” (again, yes). Strong minimal Romanian b2b. Just as you could expect from these names.

    Sunday dancers at Lesnoy Prichal. Photo by Roman Ketkov

    Third, the final location, and the longest part of the event started on Sunday morning at Lesnoy Prichal. If you’re not familiar with the name – it’s the summer location of Closer – every video from Closer, that you have ever seen, was filmed there. Anthea on the decks – and there are not a lot of ways to start your Sunday morning better, must say. Her set had the same energy as Evan Baggs, but a little bit more… bleepy, if you want. Also, it was perfectly adjusted to the time she had to play. The crowd was a little bit less noisy, but still there was a lot of wows and screams anytime Anthea deserved them. For example, for this beauty…

    …or during almost every track of her last hour. You know that time when you can’t go either to the bar or to the toilet because of the fear to miss something great? That was the last hour of Anthea’s set. After this one for a brief moment, I began to worry about the next DJ. It was supposed to be Roustam…

     

    13:00 on the clock, Roustam is starting and all my fears disappear after 15 minutes or so. It took him around 15 minutes to reset and adjust the mood of the crowd to his own vibe and then the real mayhem started on the dancefloor. The 90s-English-Premier-League level of selection (Wiggle, Swag Records, Tony Adams, Teddy Sheringham, Gianluca Vialli at Chelsea, you know). All he did during his set was switch between energy-saving and the beast mode. And the UK tech and progressive house base was a great companion for that. If I’m right – this classic was played even twice.

    But don’t think, that he took the easy way and all he played was only from the UK and 90s. During his set, there was a great selection of new music too (Moscow Records says “hi!”). Still, a lot of modern producers are doing their homages to this era, making vinyl heads dig a lot of classic stuff they were inspired by. And if it results into sets like this one – I’m having zero problems with that. The peak of the whole weekend, no less. Check out the first video below:

    The next one was SE62 – another part of the Closer crew, that was mainly famous for the unbelievable garage selection in his early and not-so-early years. Since the ending of Roustam’s set was in energy-saving mode, he picked that vibe perfectly with the flat and sexy classic garage house percussion and killer electro and breaks basslines.

    End of the regular time-up, start of another evening – the main question was “Who’s gonna continue this?” since there was no way the crowd would go home for at least 6-8 hours. Noizar and Borys politely declined, when I asked them about the possibility of one more set, but two guys in fleece, better known as The Ghost were ready to change their location from the dancefloor into the DJ place. This time, there were no limits, so they cooked the crowd of Lesnoy Prichal with their soulful gas, no any mellow pre-heatings. The people on this dancefloor are usually honest – so it could be easily heard, which set was loved the most.

    The Ghost b2b turned into b4b when Anthea and Evan Baggs came back to play too. These two also closed the whole party at 5:00 in the morning. And that was it. 41 hours of music and dancing for the people who were starving for an event like this for a very long time. But don’t you dare think that the absence of parties could make me more complimentary to Closer in this review – this one was a standout party even for their very strict pre-COVID standards. Well, let’s hope, we’ll have one more like this one soon (and let’s hope, it will happen earlier than another effigy being burned at Closer).

    Our video recap of the weekend (and some track IDs in the comments):

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