Our first Residents’ Hour of 2016 also happens to be our first stateside offering. Dark NRG, an offshoot of San Francisco’s Honey Soundsystem, explores the collective’s more ominous tastes. Delve into Bézier‘s mix below and read on to find out what he has to say about DARK NRG’s ritual.
“The earliest hours of the club are like a magic window of time when dancers begin to gather. This span before peak hours should be treated with reverence. It’s a period for conservation before the rush of dancers fill up the room with ecstatic energy.
“An opening vibe situation resembles a Parlor Room or an intimate Salon. Attendees trickle in absorbing the environment, socializing, sitting, quietly chatting and making peace. There is a sense of calm when you enter the room. Musically, the tempo is much slower, pensive and veers more abstract. Opening tunes could be cathartic, but we’re focused at this moment, cleaning the stale air from the previous night and renewing the space. Fog machines are tested and QA’d until we achieve the right blend of the venue’s natural musk with freshly atomized glycerin. We’re creating space for the night’s new energy with the right vibes.”
“Opening hours can be a kind of purgatory, but the situation is neither good nor evil. We’re maintaining dancefloor homeostasis (if the venue itself is an immune system that needs to be checked and monitored). At this hour, you definitely don’t want to blast out the gate with recently acquired bangers. Instead, pace yourself along an edge of trepidation with measured levels of intensity. In these hours, there is waiting – or perhaps a longing for something outside your scope. Past the 11pm mark, the scenery will start to escalate. Bodies start filing into the room and then comes the rush. Energy shoots around the room like ping pongs in a case filled with mouse traps right as we hit the peak – and then the club shuts down at 2am, as do most legal venues here in San Francisco.
“Out of the weekly Honey [Soundsystem] parties that occurred every Sunday from 2008 to 2013, Dark NRG – in particular – was born out of a love Josh Cheon and I had for everything occult, pattern recognition and symbolism. Our soundtrack consisted of industrial, new wave and high energy music. In the opening hours “Dig It” by the industrial band Skinny Puppy chugs slowly at a 90 bpm tempo. The Sisterhood’s “Colours” is played at the wrong speed – but then, a jolt comes as “Death Domain” starts in double time at 180 BPM, showing listeners how malleable time is. Sometimes there’s beat matching. Other moments, we’re simply soundtracking. The first DARK NRG event occurred during the winter solstice in 2009 soon after Dark Entries was born (close to the summer solstice). We decided that the longest night of the year should be marked with a special event. Our scheduled event landed on the point of the winter solstice and that’s how Dark NRG was born.”
“There is a positive, inspirational element to darkness where imagination heightens and we’re reminded of the origins of all life and activity.”
“If there was a crystal or a gem to represent what Dark NRG is about it would be Tourmaline. Tourmaline represents healing through dark energy. There is a positive, inspirational element to darkness where imagination heightens and we’re reminded of the origins of all life and activity. If the night envelops like a womb, then all life starts to animate from a primordial darkness. This is fertile ground for inspiration and creative energy.
“The look and feel of the club is always important to us as a collective. When Jason Kendig and Jacob Sperber hand over the reins for this night we follow the same instincts we would for any other Honey night. We preserve the club’s sanctity – blessing and transforming the space into more than what it intended to be, giving it a larger-than-life designation. Decor and adornments grace ceilings and walls like you would in your own home. For an event like Dark NRG, we pull out all the stops. Loose magnetic tape from VHS cassettes adorn a stage we set up for live performance. Mesh fabric is stretched and hung in different angles and corners to look like cobwebs – but actually, start to look more like oversized fishnet stockings. Video and lighting effects hit different points of the mesh so that surfaces respond like electricity and spark from the living organisms that reside in the depths of the deepest sea layer.”
“Our coat check master noticed similar patterns for people entering the space for the first time. For purposes of visualization, a common dramatization would take place: you enter the room and realization hits – “I’m here”. Perform a ritual: take a deep breath, command a few Hail Marys and then just roll with the punches. Entering the dancefloor the space gives you a reality check. The club will reach a certain capacity and then become a bit of a swarming nest. On rare occasions, personal space gets too close for comfort. Sometimes discussions become heated and dormant personalities activate for the first time.”
The next instalment of Residents’ Hour takes us back over the Atlantic, returning to the banks of the Spree.
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