Eleven, a club quickly becoming one of the staples of the Japanese dance scene, recently hosted a two-night anniversary party to commemorate their second year. The first night of the two nights was held under the "Sound of Berghain" banner, with resident acts DJ Pete and Shed from the Berlin club providing the soundtrack. Also behind the decks on the main floor was DJ Nobu—a DJ who has gained reputation as a leading force in the Japanese club scene in the past decade through Future Terror, a party in his hometown of Chiba—while local residents took care of things in Eleven's lounge.
With some warm, cozy house numbers, the party was kicked off in the lounge by Sari Bell, a DJ who regularly plays events, both big and small, all across Tokyo. The main dance floor opened at 11 PM, with DJ Pete getting people interested with abstract electro. Upstairs, Sisi of Pan Records took over, spinning organic but psychedelic and retro cuts. It was then Naoki Serizawa's turn, playing seductive disco and house that embodied the vibe of the party he headlines, Lilith.
Back on the main dance floor, the subtle music Pete had been effortlessly blending slowly turned into harder 4/4, much to the delight of the crowd. Though the Berlin resident is clearly inspired by dubstep, his set still overflowed with a deep passion for techno, something stemming from his long years in the electronic music scene of his hometown.
The moment Pete's set finished, Shed's performance began. Fiddling with his setup consisting of a MacBook, a MIDI controller and a JOMOX drum machine, Shed produced a spectrum of sound, alternating between bright, colorful rhythms and dark, gloomy beats with deep bass and sharp hi-hats. Building on top of simple but powerful loops, he worked the knobs and added effects, intoxicating the crowd.
In the lounge, Kikiorix, a headliner at parties like Holic in London and Survival Dance at Womb in Tokyo, moved the energetic crowd with a minimal house set. Then Yoshitaca, a popular DJ from Fasten Musique Concrete, came in and handled the closing slot in the lounge.
Following Shed, DJ Nobu took over, heating up the dance floor and keeping the energy high. His set consisted purely of hard and skeletal techno with absolutely no traces of sweetness or gentleness. Maintaining that high energy for three hours straight to the point of perfection, DJ Nobu seems to have reached the height in his craft. As if to dissolve the tension in the air, synth pads reverberated towards the end of the set, and his performance came to a short end due to his tight schedule. But the unsatisfied crowd clearly wanted more, so DJ Nobu gave an encore performance, reigniting the dance floor instantly. While sometimes lowering the intensity with tracks like Blaze's "Lovelee Dae," he hypnotized the audience for an additional hour-and-a-half, clearly exhausted as he sat down on the floor afterwards.
At first, the decision of having guest DJ Pete warm up the floor with Shed following, and letting DJ Nobu handle it until the end seemed like a bit of a waste of talent, but looking back, I do feel that it was effective in keeping the energy of the party going, while showcasing each act's different styles. Besides, in retrospect, there were few people more fitting to be the star of the anniversary party than Nobu, considering how much he has contributed to making Eleven a success. A lot of the music played on the Berghain-themed night wasn't the kind that appeals to the masses—and that is something that Eleven itself can relate to.
The diverse selections of music played in the lounge, and the deep, hardcore sound filling the main floor, combined with the wonderful lighting and sound systems, VJ Hajime in the lounge, and simple but magnificent decorations in the venue all created a vibrant, mesmerizing atmosphere. It's also worth noting how professional and patient the staff were, regardless of the chaos at the crowded entrance or the bar. I can't remember how many times I heard the sound of glass shattering...
Two years since their grand opening, and it's often that Eleven still gets compared to its predecessor, Space Lab YELLOW. It's with good reason: The location and primary staff are the same. But comparing the two doesn't make all that much sense. Eleven is a new club which has just started its journey into the unknown, searching for a different way for people to have a good time. This anniversary party proved Eleven is on the right path.