Last weekend saw the launch of a new setting to facilitate arts and culture within London. It's been in the works for some time now, with an aim towards pushing innovation in event production; the world was introduced to the London Pleasure Gardens. The area is loosely based on communal spaces which existed between the 17th and 19th Centuries in London, where people would stroll their nights away within the capital city appreciating art and listening to live music.
The 21st Century update holds similar ideals; based in the same picturesque industrial setting as 'The Royal Victoria Gardens' which existed between 1851 and 1884. It comes from the crew behind Glastonbury Festival's late night area; the artistic melting pot known as Shangri-La, and the venue will host everything from world-class music artists and DJs to circus and promenade performances, film screenings, live art, community engagement projects and family activities.
A completely free grand opening weekend included an array of different styles of live music, with performances from regulars on the UK festival circuit such as Hypnotic Bras Ensemble, Dreadzone, The Correspondents, Dizraeli and The Small Gods, Alabama 3, Ska Cubano and others.
A last minute decision to attend meant leaving my hometown of Bristol in a rush; on the bike with 10 minutes to spare to catch a hastily booked Megabus. After narrowly reaching it at the traffic lights and regrettably dropping a pre-made ciabatta in the process, I was on my way with the weather looking good for once.
This opportunity to experience the promised 'genius arts, interaction and atmosphere' certainly seemed to attract a multitude of similar-minded people; as I observed stepping off a crowded DLR train at Pontoon Docks station three hours later. Families and revellers clad in typical 'festival gear' coming together over the two days meant there was a fantastic vibe on the side of the Thames, very much helped by some glorious sunshine.
On arriving I was immediately impressed with the location; a great feeling to be beside the river in this far-out part of London. The custom-built site is juxtaposed with an industrial backdrop and a large piece by Shepherd Fairey (a.k.a the contemporary graphic designer and illustrator behind the widely known 'Obey' sticker campaign) overlooking from the other side of the river.
On entering, one is immediately greeted by a myriad of hanging glass lamps and various installations before wandering through to something that has your more typical festival feel. A large indoor dome stage and enormous main tent provided the music, accompanied by quality food and market stalls, fairground rides and pop-up virtuoso musician performances which helped make it a pleasure to see an otherwise dreary, industrial dockland setting transformed.
Anyone who's experienced the buzz and spectacles created in the hedonistic dystopia of Shangri-La in the heart of Somerset would surely agree it's safe to say this ridiculously creative lot know how to envision a party setting. All artists on the huge main stage played in typical festival style, getting the crowds swaying and arms in the air. The smaller Globe dome tent hosted swing dancing classes and the like, and we stumbled on the aftermath of one of this: people of all ages stylishly bopping around in groups and couples as crackly swing music was boomed out – smiles all round.
Over the coming months the London Pleasure Gardens is to play host to a multitude of different events, starting off first and foremost as the new location for the established Bloc music festival, the weekend of the 7th/8th July. Having attended Bloc the last two years at its previous home of Butlins in Minehead, I was initially sceptical about the change of location.
On seeing the new site however there's little doubt in my mind that the event will be anything other than a mind-blowing success, especially when it lays claim to what is arguably the most exciting electronic music line-up of the summer in the UK. Furthermore additions to the venue promised by Bloc include the mooring of the customised MS Stubnitz, a deep sea fishing vessel that belonged to the German Democratic Republic before the collapse of communism transformed into a powerhouse rave venue.
A slight downside to the opening weekend was that there was an air of incompletion regarding the building process, which may well be the case. There was also the issue, which is to be expected with an event of this magnitude in London, of the over-pricing of drinks (£4.50 a can!) and lack of organisation with some horrendously long queues for bar and toilet.
These are surely teething problems which will be ironed out, and fingers crossed the venue goes from strength to strength and is utilised to its fullest! For hedonistic activity and music lovers, this free opening was a little taster showed The London Pleasure Gardens' definite potential.
Words: Patrick Muncaster
Aussie drum & bass producer Safire drops by for a chat and reveals where to download his Innerspace Audio track for free!
Check The Foundation With David Heartbreak
Brooklynite David Heartbreak is launching the Foundation EP on OWSLA, and reception has been hot so far. Blending hip hop with dance vibes, we wanted to investigate from the man himself.
Philth Pours Out His Heart Songs
More well known for his, well, filth, Philth has gone all romantic on us for his new EP. We chat basslines, waistlines and inspirations right here.
Goodlooking Meets Spotify
One of the most groundbreaking labels in the history of UK dance music has teamed up with one of the leading streaming services online. We bring you the info right here.
Digital Soundboy Set Sail For Boat Party
Digital Soundboy are at it again. Ship ahoy for a summer boat party, we've got the details here.
Emissions Festival 2013 Review
We check out 'West Coast Bass Culture' festival Emissions...
Love Saves The Day 2013 Preview Mix
In anticipation of what promises to be an awesome event, Hodge & Shandy have put together a preview mix for Love Saves The Day.
Clima Guest Mix And Free Track
Spanish production duo Clima have some big releases coming up, and to celebrate, they have a guest mix and a track to give away.
One World Many Cultures With David Boomah
He has gone and done it. The new album from David Boomah is out now, and of course, Kmag wanted to get the lowdown from the man himself.
Empress Guest Mix
Best known for her marathon genre-bending sessions behind the decks, Empress checks in with a heavy-duty guest mix and broad-ranging interview that spans the course of her career.
Swindle Lives For The Jazz
Swindle's new album is coming out on DEEPMEDi on June 16th. We caught up with the bass music jet-setter to discuss his work and the sense of achievement of the album's completion.
Bassclash Meets Dubstar
Leading dubstep label Dubstar is teaming up with Bassclash for a huge compilation album, out now. Find out more here.
With interest peaking in their upcoming London night, we find out more about the Innersoul crew, and what they are up to.
CM Sounds Competition
CM Sounds have some amazing music technology courses on offer. They are now teaming up with Kmag for a competition. We give you all you need to know right here.
Aural Imbalance Comes Out Of Plato's Cave
Aural Imbalance is one half of Out Of Plato's Cave, who have recently dropped an album on the Greta Cottage Workshop label. We speak to him about it here.