Once inside the venue I head straight for the room at the top of the house—Tripod is cut up into several rooms layered on top of one another a bit like a Rubik's Cube. The Hospital DJs are playing, and the room itself has a bit of energy to it. It's Myles Dyson-style bouncy electro: Not too aggressive, with a slice of warmth and spring in the grooves. There is a good size crowd and the floor seems to be reacting. That crowd is a bit of a mixed bag: Goldfrapp leftovers (her gig was on before Darren Emerson), Lily Allen look-alikes (trainers, black tights and a green frilly dress), stiletto and shorts wearing girls, cheap lycra clubbing top girls, Klaxons-style nu-wave hooded boys and muscular bodybuilder tight-topped lads all seem to be in attendance, as well as two girls—one from Yorkshire and the other from Dublin—who tell me how "some boy at the bar told me that he doesn't do fat birds" when she said hello to him.
Aside from the crowd, though, the most interesting feature of the room is the decks, which sit on a metal beam that is suspended down from the ceiling. Overall, the fixtures in the venue are actually quite homely, clean and comfortable for a club. Leather tub sofas and candles on every table soften the tone and make you feel comfortable and amorous at the same time. (As long as there are no fat birds around, apparently.)
I head for the main room and am greeted by LRB, warming up for Darren Emerson. He peaks the sound so perfectly at times in his dark bass-driven trancey house set that the arc of speakers on either side of the stage sound almost crystalline. Before I know it, I'm on the floor dancing. Luckily, there's a lot of space on the dance floor (the venue is only half-full) that there are some crazy moves going down and the crowd are well into the set being delivered. Here, in contrast to the upstairs, the audience is older, more followers of Emerson than young clubbers on a night out. Bearded hippies, a couple of businessmen with girls draped on their arms, Barbie dolls in leopard print pink dresses, fly girls with massive hoops in their ears. They're moving, swaying and dancing some in a hectic way.
Hands eventually start going in the air and the crowd starts to get vocal, just as Emerson greets us. He's working off a laptop like any pro nowadays. He takes the music up another notch from the trancier direction LDB was going. It's tougher, edgier, darker, definitely warmer and more uplifting but still driving music. Initially, at least, it's reminiscent of Underworld. And then Emerson drops "Crash Jack," which sets the crowd alight with its long intro and building break. Soon after, I get talking to another clubber who mistakes me for a drug dealer: "Are you the girl who I can see about getting a few pills off?" I tell him I think he has me mistaken for someone else. He goes on, "I'm a pretty big house fan, so I'm liking what I'm hearing from Emerson tonight," but his mind soon returns to drugs: "There is a lot of coke going around, but it's cut to bits and to be honest it's too expensive. I'd rather drop two pills to have a good night and enjoy myself." And, with that, he's gone in search of the high that is eluding him.
All in all, fans of Emerson were happy as he continued keep the music techy—and even more so when he took things darker into tribal house territory with some driving basslines to match. For me, though, after an hour into his set, I couldn't say it had really changed direction extensively enough to come off as anything more than a monotonous soundtrack that's been played before—clichéd and predictable. My thoughts were confirmed by at least one other clubgoer, who when asked told me that she was "moving almost for something to do." The night, unfortunately, simply left me thinking "Is that it? Surely there must be more then that." I danced yes, but didn't feel overly inspired, challenged or fulfilled by Emerson this night. Instead, the real fun was in listening to what the rest of the clubbers had to say.