From an ad-hoc Northbridge recording studio encrusted with weeds, papier-mâché swans and giant clams, we carry on to the Velvet Lounge. The night is balmy as we enter – the door swinging open, freely – into a crevasse bubbling over with smoke, shadows, strobing lights and pumping limbs. Scattered festive flags in red and white betray the time of year. At the rear wall, a formation of tinsel smiles in rudimentary references to the evening’s name: a big, glittery, beaming FACE.
FACE is an electronic dance music party. No need to embellish that fact or talk it up as some kind of revolution: a top-shelf dance party requires no window dressing. This particular one is the brainchild of George “Rumtime” Gifford and Mr Nathan Savage (of local “veteran” psych group THESE SHIPWRECKS), as well as Rhys Savage and the Kaminski Brothers (Mark&Paul) who’ve all spent a hefty slab of time in Berlin dancing holes in their shoes to house, techno, cosmic disco, all that good shit that Germans love. Beyond merely cultivating a greater appreciation for such tunes, they were infused with the appropriate approaches to dance-partying. They captured a little of this magic and squeezed it into their suitcases, before setting it free in Mt. Lawley. In Nathan’s words: “I wanted to start a sweat shop and induce the wild dance doogs into Perth.” Now here we are, within the smokescreen and the concentric circles of whirling silhouettes.
JACK QUIRK (of Apricot Rail/Perth) subverts the night’s usual vinyl-only rule by plugging in his laptop, but uses it to great effect and I don’t think anyone is too offended. Except me – offended by my own tardiness, which causes me to all but miss his set of undoubtedly glee-inducing sound nuggets. I think JUSTIN MANZANO (also of Perth…the band, Perth) might have spun some tunes too. Or maybe he just stood really close to the stage grooving out. Either way. Cool guy. EMERALD CABAL (aka Alex Campbell aka Royal Vomit aka Javier Frisco) fires up some steamy hot weirdo-haus and goes tag team style with THE TASTE (aka Reece Walker aka another member of the Shipwreck clan) who similar provides seething, restless bangers to sate both brain and body.
As the evening burns on we sip from the cool refreshing spout of the CLUB-MATE bottles. Mate, if you’re curious and hitherto unfamiliar, is a cracker of a highly caffeinated tea derived from a plant in South America, widely drunk in Argentina especially, and CLUB-MATE is a German soft drink adaptation, aimed (presumably) at the dance-all-nite demographic. It has a subtle herby taste, gently sweet, and entirely refreshing, not at all like other tongue-molesting energy drinks; it is reminiscent of a mild aperitif or floral iced tea. The beverage surreptitiously provides extra vivacity for the dancefloor, assisting with arm, leg and head propulsion for extended periods. Resident deejays WILDER & WILDER (Nathan and Rhys, “wilde” means Savage in German, savvy?) scrub the decks now and the pulsations are irresistible. House music is fascinating. It’s absolutely ruthless. If you’re dancing it will reward you handsomely, but if you’re not, forget it. Much like when you visit the tiger enclosure, fence-sitting is not an option.
Luckily, everyone is on the right side of the fence. The bodily movement is ferocious and relentless. The four-to-the-floor, the offbeat hats, the pared back and unpretentious melodies – it all feels totally perfect, instilling some sort of utopian/atavistic end-of-the-world unity and primal wisdom.
My buddies and I disappear before the dancing is done. But we’ll be back: I’m pretty certain of that.