London’s clubbing landscape is constantly evolving. In the last 12 months or so we have seen the closure of Dance Tunnel and Plastic People, the re-opening of fabric and a number of new events series and festivals like Printworks and Junction 2 begin to reshape the way the city dances in the daytime.
One party that is always moving to new venues and trying to stand-out from the crowd is Into The Woods. Formed three years ago by promoter Chris Hodgson, the party has progressed from an illegal rave deep in the woods of Hackney to an indoor Saturday night party with guests like Shonky, Dan Andrei and Vlad Caia. In an attempt to keep the party fresh and exciting, Chris focuses his energy on finding unique and alternative spaces that are only announced on the morning of the event.
Fast-forward to last weekend. How often do you get the opportunity to rave underground in a World War II bunker? Tucked away just off a main high street in East London is an abandoned bunker originally used for seeking refuge from bombs in the Second World War. The bunker itself has had little restoration done since and is now mainly used for photo shoots and film.
The bunker space has four rooms but only one of them is big enough to hold a few hundred ravers on a dance floor. On entry, I’m taken down a narrow staircase and along a short trippy hallway on to the main dance floor. The dance floor is your typical London basement. Bricked walls with concrete beams run across the ceiling. The only light comes from an Into The Woods sign hanging on the wall above the DJ. At the back of the dance floor is a small second room, perfect for a slower, more ambient soundtrack.
After a solid four-hour warm up from Into The Woods resident Tarek Charbonnier and Trommel’s own Adam Monti (ADMNTi), Lee Clement aka Kolo & Dyze took to the decks around 2 AM. His set had that raw London feel. Early on TeeTee’s – Track 1 got the biggest reaction of the night before dubs and delays from East End Dubs and Ho Do Ri filled the room. With the party going on till 7 AM (rare for London), Josh Rawl closed out the night mixing in Ricardo- Lapitua with vintage 808 sounds and breakbeat.
It’s this kind of smaller, more intimate night that showcase just how diverse London’s clubbing scene can be. Despite venues like fabric putting on world-class underground lineups every weekend, sometimes it’s good to step out of those dance floors and vibe alongside friendly strangers in unique settings with very little production.
At the end of the night, I was told this is probably the only rave ever to happen in this venue, making this party that little bit more special. I’ll ask you again, how many of you can say you’ve raved in an abandoned world war II bunker in East London?
All photography by Sophie Harbinson for Here & Now
Into The Woods heads to Berlin with Praslea on Sunday 29th December. Join the Facebook event.