Big Chill
10th Birthday Bash

By Serena Kutchinsky

The Big Chill’s 10th birthday bash in the holy setting of Islington’s Union Chapel, was the type of party guaranteed to drag even the most hardened of sinners back to church. Forget cucumber sandwiches, blustering vicars and old dears in navy cardys, this Sunday social was all about mind altering cocktails, spine-tingling tunes and quality visuals.

Despite the winter chill sweeping through Islington’s Union Chapel, partygoers were sucked into the horizontal clubbing vibe which distinguishes all Big Chill events. Comfy cushions covered the cold floor, fairy lights hung from the ancient rafters, sparkly children chased each other with balloons and ageing nineties rave kids clutched their bottled beers and muttered about getting an early night.

Union Chapel is the Big Chill’s spiritual home and was the scene of their first ever Sunday session on 27 February, 1994. Pete lawrence and crew set out to create a fluffy, friendly environment where clubbers could come-down gently and listen to the ultimate soul-soothing music. Ten years on, and the after party is very much the main event.

This party may have lacked the sunshine which soaked Eastnor Castle last summer, but it still induced a degree of reverie in all those who congregated in the chapel’s hallowed halls. Arriving to DJ Derek set the tone perfectly for an evening of mellifluous musical excellence, during which Mixmaster Morris played a staggeringly eclectic set, cutting and pasting a collection of Big Chill classics. Matt Black’s slightly trippy visuals projected images of festivals past onto the sizeable screen adding a nostalgic, if slightly self-congratulatory air to the proceedings.

Shaggy-haired Berliner, Ulrich Schnauss’s live laptop set was the undoubted main event, forcing the majority of the sprawled crowd to their feet and a reverential shush to spread through the main room. Unlike the aural wallpaper which filled the cocktail bar for the majority of the evening, Schnauss’s spine-tingling soundscapes fully validated his status as one of electronic music’s brightest stars

After Schanuss’s emotional whirlwind swept out God’s house we adjourned to the cinema room to enjoy a slice of birthday cake and Ninja Tune’s Zen TV DVD which demonstrated the all over audio-visual excellence of everybody’s favourite label. Tom Middleton’s Global Communication kept the party going right until the last possible second with a DJ set steeped in an irresistible eighties vibe. Cushions were swept away, Monday morning forgotten and all other cares pushed aside as the crowd finally came alive and partied like they’d never left 1994.
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