As the sun sets against an eclectic group of dancers on About Blank’s garden terrace, Deadlift cuts her variable, calmly mid-tempo set to silence, and Ariana Grande’s lone voice reverberates from the encircling speakers. It’s a moment I would have appreciated a lot 4 years ago, when I first visited the club and city. I was standing, a little bored, on that same terrace when my best friend encouraged me to think of the minimal, repetitive music played there as meditative, gently starting off a full obsession with dance music.
4 years later I’m back full circle; I live here now, the entry prices are higher, the top RA recommended nights’ floors are often packed with non-evangelical chatters, I want more. Room 4 Resistance, the queer femme / non-binary collective hosting this event, provide that in spades.
As the Canadian Deadlift, who like most of the lineup is relatively unheard and enormously talented, mixes out of Ariana into a hazey mist of breakbeat, before settling into a set of unpretentious, occasionally Balearic attitude, I’m in heaven. One particularly gorgeous moment comes when she slides from a chunk of high energy 4/4 euphoria into Roza Terenzi’s devilish electro cut Weakest Link.
I’ve wondered at points in the last few years if female DJs tend to have a more distinct sonic identity, perhaps because they have to work harder to elbow their way into lineups, and Room 4 Resistance’s anti-hegemonic booking policy added fuel to this idea for me. Deadlift was followed by a boisterously masterful set from Aurora, dovetailing the former’s sounds into a no-nonsense rave. With it still being early in the evening you would find the occasional group wandering onto the dance floor and bringing their conversations along, and I could have sworn that Aurora deliberately dealt with this with the occasional attention-grabbing shakeup, such as a mid-track cut or drown-out sonic element.
Despite the enormously different settings and tempos, both Gigsta and Chlorys hit a special, pertinent sweet spot with their sets; the female freakout. Maybe it’s because I’ve been going to too many RA-recommended nights, but this event was the first time I saw so many women losing their absolute shit on the dance floor, without fear of judgement. Chlorys’ set was my favourite of the event, set in the club’s lobby (which had thankfully been instated with a light-block to stop awareness of the nearby bar from breaking the spell, something that’s damaged great sets for me in the past). Standing calmly behind the decks, the Bucharest-based DJ showed off a maverick attitude, guiding the room down into slow bewitching chimes and back up to metallic kicks. Seriously check out this woman’s Soundcloud, there are some astonishing mixes there; she has the ability to twist tracks that lesser DJs would skip into a beguiling whole. Maybe ‘hole’ is better, as the occasional dancer would walk onto the floor and straight back off again, but those who stayed slipped into rapture.
With that said, my favourite moment had to be the opening of Gigsta’s set, blasting from Aphex Twin’s 4 bit 9d api+e+6 into a classic house mix of I’m Every Woman, above a jagged sea of limbs. From Ariana to Aphex, Room 4 Resistance was one of the most thrilling nights I’ve ever been to, a reminder that the best club nights can destroy sonic and social barriers.