Life moves in circles, a wise man once said. In electronic music, clubbers of a certain age would give a wry smile at the number of events that now reside under the "warehouse" label. And while many use the tag liberally, the Hackney Wick bolthole that Tsuba's party resided in was a bona fide example that the acid house era would've been proud of. Not many venues have a boat, an oven and a satellite dish casually secreted inside their main room, but the Tsuba team had installed a huge video screen, a wall of speakers, cleared a wide-open dance floor, and imported a palette of Red Stripe: all that was needed to convert it into a custom-made modern rave arena.
In the last decade, Kevin Griffiths and Bobby Mutraporn's Issst nights were some of London's best-loved parties, so fans of those days would've likely been looking forward to Griffiths' label's throwdown on a freezing February night, with Tsuba welcoming a lineup constructed largely from their deep roster of artists: Sascha Dive, Spencer Parker, Gerd, Ethyl and Griffiths himself. Cannily dodging the conventional marquee headliner, the lineup displayed understated class from first to last. With Ethyl's focused grooves warming up early revelers in the sub-zero surroundings nestled under the shadow of the Olympic Stadium, it was an already-crammed dance floor that he handed over to Spencer Parker.
Despite the cold and clandestine location, throughout the night there was no indication of such hardships once the space was filled, bar a proliferation of fluffy headgear, scarves and coats still dotted across the cavernous inside space, as even east London's trendies opted for winter chic over the health-endangering familiarity of hot pants and t-shirts. And it was a joyous, distinctly unstereotypical atmosphere as people were hoisted on shoulders, cheering and waving cans in the air until the dawn encroached.
Though it would be unfair to pick out a clear winner musically, such was the seamless quality of the music, Parker may have shaded the victory by inches over Gerd's analogue-drenched live section. Fresh from his well-received A Gun for Hire LP that dropped at the tail-end of last year, the Berlin resident spawned house from every angle, his own edit of No Boundaries' "Modular Pursuits" bringing whoops of delight, eventually finishing in style with the dreamy "Time" from the Pachanga Boys.
Griffiths' commitment to sourcing an interesting venue that was astutely kitted out, off the beaten track and filling it on the strength of his label's reputation—now in its sixth year—is to be applauded. With the rest of the world all doom and gloom, house music, it appears, can still give austerity a run for its money.