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When there's more artificial smoke in the dance floor than people it's safe to say you've either arrived too early or this is as good as it's going to get.
This is the scene to which I arrived at the opening night of 'Party Guilt', yet another independent house night attempting to break the stranglehold of York Uni's standard club nights. Their slogan seems to suggest that all manner of shenanigans will occur that we young ravers will regret and cringe over for years to come, fondly recalling the memories amongst the continuous 4/4 bass. Yet, sadly, the atmosphere left you feeling guilty for not pre-drinking enough for what felt more like an Alcoholics Anonymous night on the town, rather than the deep House rave promised. Going up against Mansion on a Wednesday night was always a risk: unfortunately it may not necessarily have paid off for the DJ duo.
Aspiring to join the likes of Itchy Feet, Milli Vanilli, Insomnia and Bangers & Mash in York's emerging underground scene, Party Guilt sees two York based DJs who describe themselves on their Mixcloud as "faithful to the classic Detroit and Chicago sound while at the same time always keeping an eye out for the new sounds that allow the scene to continually reinvent itself", to which I can whole heartedly agree: they brought that 90s deep scene right back into the dungeons of York, fighting with every snare for that underground music which is evidently so dear to them.
The bass is not rammed down your ear canals, but gently caresses you into losing your shit
It certainly feels underground as you wait for the taps to work in Fibbers' plywood toilets. But it cannot be denied that the whole evening brought a smile to my face. It was reminiscent of a Manchester Warehouse Project night - the DJ less of a cheese fiend and more of the omnipotent demigod they should be, overall much more of an event than your average night in Kuda. The crowd itself consisted of a curious assimilation of Rastas, Hipsters and International students, and the air certainly didn't stink as much of testosterone and VK as Mansion normally does. By 1:30am, it reached the point where you were beginning to feel like part of a single entity. Of the few who came, although by this point the dance floor was probably half full people having abandoned the bar sick of the inflated prices, it felt as though they were all there for the same reason: music.
It was a beautifully smooth mix. Honestly, the quantity of the crowd was more than made up for by the quality. Fibbers really seems like the only place where a mix of this vibe could be heard, with the standard Macbook Pro only slightly visible through the smoke and pastel lasers. At times nostalgic, it was all the while conscious of appealing to a contemporary audience, tracks like 'Sdik Baby' from "MR TOPHAT/ART ALFIE" having only been realised in the last few weeks. Picking out a single highlight seems pointless as with their approach it all blurs together into a perpetual steady rhythm aimed solely at getting your limbs moving, only interrupted by the occasional vocoded vocal sample or mild drop. Vinyl-driven Party Guilt is probably the most true to its aim of the underground nights York offers. Exceedingly European-influenced, the beat is relentless, but subtle; the beauty of these sorts of deep house mixes is that, unlike their swaggering, egotistical EDM cousins, the bass is not rammed down your ear canals, but gently caresses you into losing your shit.
'Potential' is the word. The right people were there, the ones who'll spread the word that there is an alternative. These house/excuse-to take-MD nights are on an upsurge in York. Maybe Party Guilt needs a few more months to mature, but no doubt with their musical skillsets it'll achieve the same notoriety as Itchy Feet or Bangers and Mash. It was almost too much of a thing to be classed as a thing quite yet. Collectively these nights are changing the clubbing scene in York, drip-feeding it with the modern intelligent music it deserves.