Wonderland.

GOODBYE BLOC

We say goodbye to Bloc festival after it’s last ever instalment.

This year’s Bloc Weekend was my first ever Bloc experience… and sadly will be my last, as 2016’s edition was the dance music festivals swan song. But oh how it sung. Bloc is held at the ultimate British tourism utopia that is Butlins. My last visit may have been two decades ago, but I was back – swapping ice creams for Jäger bombs and a 72 hour non stop party at this British establishment-cum-rave heaven.

After a swift check-in to my chalet, I observed the terrain of the festival. Imagine the core stage area surrounded by first year uni halls, that pretty much describes the Bloc layout, with the rich kids halls closest, slowly descending into various assortments of semi-Brutalist 70s council blocks… but in the most charmingly bleak British way.

I kicked off my weekend with Belfast duo Bicep, who’s eclectically rousing set had the entire room pumping, and prepared me for the night’s star attraction; Berghain resident and techno-juggernaut Ben Klock. His propulsive beats throbbed and growled into the small hours, before sending me ricocheting happily to a pal’s chalet party until well past sunrise.

What’s the first thing anyone does on a Saturday morning in Butlins? Waterworld, obviously! This time it wasn’t soundtracked by the screeching cries of militant toddlers, but fully blinged up electro artist Egyptian Lover – and yes, it was as bizarre as it sounds. Have you ever found yourself trapped on a floating ball going round the rapids and bumped into a past one-night stand? Well I wouldn’t recommend it. It signalled the fun was over and, feeling both elated and equally ashamed I hit the all-you-can-eat Pizza Hut Buffet to prepare for the unparalleled Saturday night line up.

Thom Yorke’s ‘Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes’ was one of the key draws of the weekend and didn’t disappoint, aided by a mind-distorting AV show, then merging into a genre-defying, electronic journey provided by Four Tet. I cut that short and checked out Motor City Drum Ensemble, which turned into one of the most well received sets of the weekend, with swift mixes of deep house into classic and contemporary disco.

At some point I decided it would be a great idea to escape the incessant thump and watch the sun rise on the beach, but it wasn’t long before I found myself unexpectedly washed away by a rogue wave, drowning my phone in the process. I’ve termed it a Butlins baptism. This however did give me the wet, sandy impetus to check out the 6-10am set from my favourite London club night, World Unknown’s resident – Body Hammer: Joe Hart / Scott Fraser. The dark, heavy acid beats pulled in the stragglers into one happy, raving throb.

Sunday was reserved for the true hardcore Bloc-heads, and saw DJ Deeon get dirty in the Pub stage, with Omar S galvanising the final revellers before I ended the weekend with national treasure Goldie, playing out a Drum n Bass masterclass on the Metalheadz curated Fact stage.

Bloc is pretty much a microcosm of what makes Britain great: Pizza Hut, cups designed solely for Jäger bombs, esoteric tunes and having the most meaningful chats of your life with someone you would normally run away from at Asda. It’s a shame to wave goodbye to this chapter of the pioneering clubbing institution, but at least they still have their Hackney Wick venue, and I know I’ll never again have to spend 5 timeless minutes in the Butlin’s rapids with an ill advised ex lover.

Photographer
Jake Davis (Hungry Visuals)
Words
Max Cocking
GOODBYE BLOC

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