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Sounds of the underground

London has thousands of parties going on every weekend. Not only in nightclubs but also in strange venues like warehouses and basements. Sound sensations overtake you when you go to a basement techno party for the first time.

You not only hear with your ears; you hear with your whole body. Your skin; your bones vibrating inside your chest; even your feet on the dance floor, all contribute to the hearing process.

You go down narrow stairs and step into darkness; a haze of smoke in the air; a dimmed red glow highlighting silhouettes; white lights above the bar where guys sell beers from a bucket with ice.

Paint is scaling off the ceiling like lizard skin and the air around seems thick and humid. As your vision shuts down, the pulsating bass line of the music takes over.

Sounds from the speakers bounce at you from the cold basement walls, tickling your feet, travelling your spine, echoing in your lungs. Your ears are sucking in the music harmonies and then your heart suddenly synchronises with the beat. This is an experience at a club called The Hoxton Basement and the night has only just begun.

A very London experience

A party in the basement is a very London experience. Apart from bars and pubs, east London can offer numerous basement party locations like holes in a piece of cheese.

It is a good example of how gentrification and economic conditions influenced the electronic club scene, bringing harsh urban beauty to those who can appreciate it.

Clubbers and promoters have reasons to stick to the (real) underground. Firstly, the rent is cheap, as it is hardly possible to find anything other than an old, mouldy warehouse or a former cold meat store.

Secondly, the loudest sound blowing your mind away stays perfectly secret, never bothers the neighbours or violates night noise restrictions.

Thirdly, time is non-existent down there, as no light comes from outside. You can come in at 10 in the morning (such parties exist, particularly on Sundays), sober and fresh. But in a short time, you forget that the world outside and its rhythms exist and they become powerless over you.

Basement parties are different from any other club experience. There is something strongly physical about it. A combination of powerful bass-driven sounds within the tattered walls day after day, the humidity of London soil and the light of morning which never comes. This is a vortex which makes you feel alive at that moment like never before.

Words and photograph by Anastasia Fedorova
DJ in the pictures is Matthew Dear, techno musician from Chicago

To experience the sounds of the underground nightlife in London, visit:


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