We logged on for the weekend to explore the latest experiment in sustainable virtual clubbing, a pay-per-minute model with DJs and artists in mind.
Techno Club's opening last weekend scheduled 35 sets, live and recorded, and spanned five time zones across seven cities. Cisco Ferreira, AKA The Advent, and Portland's DJ Dave Bate began talks about the idea just before the world went into lockdown, and the result is a thoroughly DIY affair: from the payment system to the video hosting software, they built everything from the ground up.
Streaming started Friday night and ended Sunday evening, with all sets archived on the site for clubbers to view until the following Friday. A three-tier pay per minute (PPM) model offered punters a choice of 300, 600 or 1200 minutes of listening time for €5, €10 or €20 respectively, which they could use across ten curated rooms. So far, so simple.
Techno Club's "door" was scheduled to open at 9 PM BST but things didn't get going till closer to 10:30 PM. It was a little frustrating navigating the site, which felt a bit sluggish at times, but after logging in and getting familiar with the layout, I roamed the colour-coded rooms before settling on Oliver Way. He knocked out Chicago house classics like Kenny "Jammin" Jason's "Can U Dance" and Ten City's "That's the Way Love Is," which helped me relax into my new digital surroundings.
Visual offerings varied from set to set. In some rooms, you could just about make out the hands of a faceless DJ hovering over a mixer, while in others, there was plenty for the eye to see. Robert Hood went for a simple side camera angle for his Friday set, which featured Italo disco, new wave and early funk. Playing on Saturday alongside daughter Lyric as Floorplan they leaned heavily toward gospel house and could be seen passionately singing into the camera together.
Vinyl sets made for the most engaging viewing experience. Kerrie opted for a wide front camera view. Friends sat on plush sofas in the back as she raced through a slick techno set, riding the rhythm, perfectly phasing in tracks and readjusting the tonearm weight as and when the grooves required. T. Linder's pure turntable mastery was on full display in Detroit Techno Militia's room. I lost count of the number of times he stretched out the pitch with a quick handslide along the platter, punctuating the other record playing before locking in the beat moments later.
For all the initial technical rigmarole, by Sunday evening I was a convert to the Techno Club model. The quality and choice of acts were undeniable—with standout sets from Tony Humphries and Dave Bate. (There's nothing like letting a lazy Sunday morning ripen into the afternoon accompanied by a six-hour Humphries house set.) The PPM model, meanwhile, gave me the option of attending as a raver, blowing all my minutes in one evening, or as a roaming spectator, coming and going over the weekend when I pleased. Techno Club also offers the electronic community a sustainable and scalable model. Earnings are split equally across the various rooms and, similar to Boiler Room and Apple Music's new initiative, all tracks played are reported to the licensing authorities. At a starting rate of €5, Techno Club is value for money. Roll on this weekend.