Being that it shares many contrasting features as the festival itself, Tobacco Dock is the obvious choice of venue for the Junction 2’s Launch party.
Here we take a look in more detail at these aesthetics that makes Tobacco Dock London’s playground of choice.
Throughout Tobacco Dock’s Grade II listed grounds, you will find contrasting texture and materials. At the entrance, you are greeted by towering cast iron gates accompanied on both sides by prison-high walls. A stack of faux wooden barrels nods to the site’s former usage. Peering through, you can see the fabricated venue logo – about the only evidence of corporate presence you will find on the entire site.
Once inside, you will walk over patio-tiled flooring underfoot. Vertical block pillars rise from the ground, supporting curvaceous ceiling of reddish-brown brickwork that arch overhead. In the foyer, metal lamp posts and railings, turquoise blue in colour, rise from the ground. Intricately welded bandstands and twisted metal sculptures that house elaborate clocks are similarly coloured. Craning your neck back and looking overhead, you will see proud timber beams supporting planes of glass, peaking into a gable roof.
Wandering to the bowel of the venue and into the Car Park, a concrete lair awaits. Ramps, bollards, stops signs and buffer bumpers.
Contrast in every corner…
Tobacco Dock has achieved legendary status by playing to its strengths. Three rooms of contrasting vibes, each catering to the needs of different demographics. Though they may differ in size, atmosphere and notoriety, they each play an equally key role. No one should be considered more important than the next. Each serving a purpose, they compliment their counterparts. On their own, they merely represent a piece of the puzzle: a third of a full whole.
The Great Gallery lives up to its name, and is the nominated main room. At the front, its imposing booth is the focal point. Complete with lighting stacks, speakers and CO2 canons, the Great Gallery is a hybrid between a club space and a festival stage. Overhead, those proud timber beams provide an air of majesty befitting this grand space. Lasers cuts through the smoke-filled air, whilst on the floor you will find carnival-esque scenes.
Occupying the underbelly of the venue, the Car Park’s subterranean demeanour lends itself well to harder styles. Production is scaled right back, placing sound at the centre of the experience. It is therefore the ideal setting for a pounding kick-drum, rattling bass and relentless BPM. Raw and unpretentious. Under cover of darkness, London’s underground community has found a clandestine playground that ticks all the right boxes.
The Gallery might at first appear modest by comparison. But do not be deceived. As the crowd builds, the Gallery is often the first port of call. The Gallery has in the past been used as an incubator to showcase emerging talent. If you’re prompt you will catch early unannounced sets from international renowned DJs – reward for making a swift arrival. Later, the music will be honed by some of the most respected crate-diggers in the industry, catering to the chin-strokers and the aficionados. Always boasting a knowledgeable crowd, the Gallery is Tobacco Dock’s inner-sanctum.
And then we come to the courtyard – the open-air, two-tiered walkway that links these three spaces. Bursting from the humid pressure-cooker of one of the music arenas, into the fresh air and inhaling a lung-full of oxygen is a welcomed interlude. Aromas from the food stalls hit your nostrils, or maybe it is the scent of anticipation as you approach your next destination.
This area is a place to chill and regroup – there is always something to see, whether people watching or part of the peripheral entertainment. Even out of earshot of the music, the Tobacco Dock experience continues.
It’s a curious thing, arriving in the daylight and exiting in the dark. For so long, it was always the opposite way around. In recent times, London’s clubbing habits has seen a cultural shift. Perhaps their hand was forced, due to political threats to licensing. Or maybe, it is symptomatic of a more “woke” generation.
At the centre of this shift, has been Tobacco Dock – London’s playground of choice. Midday to 22:30. Cause? Or consequence? Either way, Tobacco Dock has been pivotal in facilitating this habitual change. The times have – quite literally – changed, but the passion remains. London’s dancefloor has adapted to this new dynamic with ease. Clubbing has always been a pursuit of contrasts. Bringing lightness inside the dark, and vice-versa.
From melancholic sounds, against euphoric melodies. To beams of light piercing pitch black dancefloors. And breaking bleary-eyed into the harsh daylight after being holed up for six hours. Day/Night. Light/Darkness. It can be seen right across the industry. It can be found in abundance at Tobacco Dock.
Although pandering to the taste of London’s underground clubbing community, Tobacco Dock has always featured a varied music policy. From techno, to deep house, downtempo electronica, melodic soundwaves and even live acts. The full spectrum has been showcased. So, too, has the range in status from legends to newcomers. This contrast – of both sound and experience – is again on show at the Junction 2 Festival Launch.
In Dixon and Âme we have the spearheads of the most influential electronic music label of the past two decades. Often imitated; never duplicated. Already this year, they have underlined their impact on the scene with several key performances in our city. Performances that will live on in memory for some time to come. Purveyors of nuanced, sophisticated house music – it speaks volumes that they were invited into the hallowed archives of the Royal Albert Hall. That electronic music is regarded as high-art in their homeland, should not go unnoticed. Similarly, Adam Beyer continues to cast his image on Drumcode as its master and commander. The visionary label boss has again tread new horizons in 2018. The day & night dual set concept is the latest example of him pushing new boundaries.
Perhaps not yet quite as celebrated as the aforementioned, Rødhåd is surely a legend in the making. His rugged take on techno has seen him shoot up the ranks in recent years. A true flagbearer for the notorious Berlin scene, the Berghain regular and head of the increasingly popular Dystopian records is a persona on the ascent. By contrast, Amelie Lens represents the new blood. Leading the pack of the next generation of global superstars, Lens is the full package still waiting to fulfill her unlimited potential. Few artists can claim to be fully competent in production, DJing and social media – but Lens is the triple threat ready to show the rest of the industry how things are done. The industry has always relied heavily on innovation and pushing things forward. It is a refreshing tonic to see these qualities in a relatable personality, as opposed to latest bit of hardware.