After sixteen long months, we returned with our first proper community party of 2021, welcoming a mix of debutants and Partisan favourites to our new home at Islington Mill.
From the outset, a strong emphasis on safety helped to foster an inclusive and friendly atmosphere. In the face of concern about rising infection rates, those in attendance were encouraged to take a negative Covid test beforehand, whilst a quiet room was allocated indoors for anyone wanting to take a breather from the party. The venue itself, situated outside our new space, in Islington Mill’s Regents car park, was decked-out with colourful decorations and a new, bespoke sound system. Helped by the glorious weather, this all combined to create the perfect reintroduction to community partying.
As with most day parties things kicked off in relaxed fashion, with attendees slowly arriving across the opening few hours. Following AHoD’s Open Deck Session we had a trio of stripped-back live performances, starting with the atmospheric tones of Hannah Ross. L Cat then impressed with a cover of PJ Harvey’s ‘Down By the Water’, whilst an engaging Bee Rosebud continued in a similar vein; playing a host of her own songs alongside lyrics written for an unreleased dub project. Each performance was set against a backdrop of members, volunteers and friends reconnecting, familiarising themselves with the new space and enjoying the sun.
4pm marked the most notable shift of the day, as Nusheen took to the decks for her Partisan debut and the crowd began to reacquaint themselves with the dancefloor. Across two hours the NARR resident moved through UKG, 90s hardcore and breaks, closing out her set with a mix of steppers and broken-beat. It was Tim Reaper’s frenetic remix of ‘Pull Up’ by Special Request that truly ignited the dancefloor, introducing a feeling of normality that continued throughout the rest of the party.
Up next, musical polymath Raheel, formerly Taurtollo, flexed his eclectic record collection by spanning a mix of global styles, from motorik krautrock to dub and psychedelic funk, as the dancefloor packed out. His selection of Khaled’s stunning ‘Ne M’En Voulez Pas’, perhaps the quintassential day party tune, was a personal highlight.
The break many took to refuel on a ‘rice and three’ allowed Raheel to stretch out and play some extended cuts from two of lockdown’s finest compilations: Music from Memory’s ‘Virtual Dreams’ and Lil Toby’s dancehall release, ‘Now Thing 2’. Dubtribe Sound System’s ‘Sunshine’s Theme’ and Arif Cooper’s ‘Good Vybe’, in particular, were both met with excitable responses from the crowd, satisfying that pandemic-induced desire to once again hear new releases on a proper system.
Mancunian legend Ruf Dug, no stranger to a Partisan party, then took the opportunity to play a selection of house classics across the next 90 minutes, including a slow, rolling dub of Eurythmics’ ‘Sweet Dreams’, Jamie 3:26 & Cratebug’s ‘Hit It N Quit It’ and an extended edit of Laurent Garnier’s ‘The Man With The Red Face’.
Closing out the day in serious style was NTS resident and Partisan’s own Fairy Godmother, Sofie K. Channeling the spirit of the summer she kicked off her set with a New Beat-scored paean to England Hero Raheem Sterling, then going on to play her usual blend of pumping italo and EBM to an increasingly ebullient crowd. In spite of noise complaints, which cut things short by close to an hour, there was still time for one more tune: New Order’s 1990 World Cup classic, World In Motion. It was this moment, more than any other, that best encapsulated the unity and spirit of the day, serving as a perfect reminder of why we come together to dance.
As the space emptied out to a palpable buzz, with many of us rolling through to The White Hotel, I left both considering the importance of community spaces for partying and excited for what’s to come from a new era of Partisan.