As we arrived, the Picnic residents were playing a healthy warm up of cosmic tinged nu-disco and some heart-warming nostalgic house. Despite their best efforts, the crowd weren't to be swayed, preferring to stand around the sunken dance floor like shy teenagers at a party. As soon Maurice Fulton stepped up, however, the crowd stepped forward to perform their dancing dues.
He took it down a notch at the beginning, slowing the pace and dropping some vocal disco tracks, gradually sucking the crowd in. This was all just pleasantries, however: At about 2 AM, he bared his teeth, and suddenly, it was almost like listening to a back-to-back set from two DJs, as disco classics like Loleatta Holloway's "We're Getting Stronger" and The Nick Straker Band's "A Little Bit of Jazz" came face-to-face with slamming jacking Detroit.
It worked a treat. If there's one malaise that can often affect a disco-led club night, it's a lack of energy, but Fulton's one-in-one-out mixing style provided the perfect antidote. The crowd seemed to react equally well to both the hands in the air and the heads down tracks, and when he started dropping cheeky re-edits of "Rock the Kasbah" and "Now That We've Found Love," there were smiles all round.
The atmosphere never quite reached the heights that I've experienced at similar nights in London. But it's unclear whether this was down to the venue, the crowd, the bar staff's overzealous application of Australia's anti-drinking laws, or just that lack of inexplicable magic that comes over you at some moments on the dance floor. Fulton certainly delivered a good soundtrack, though, and we only left with 10 minutes before the end as he was playing Armand Van Helden's "Flowerz"—one of the few tracks of the night that didn't float my boat. As a new arrival in Sydney, this was my first clubbing outing. But if this was anything to go by, Picnic will certainly be high on my list of parties to check out while we're here—a promising introduction to Sydney's after dark scene.
Mon / 19 Apr 2010