Freedog Urban Activity Centres, Bristol
As always with Alfresco’s annual guerrilla NYE parties, there was much anticipation about what this year’s Disco location would be. With the title ‘Bounce’, speculation was in the air. Tennis courts? A gym? Elaborate toy shop?
It was revealed on the night – the Freedog Urban Activity Centre. A huge warehouse space tucked away behind Temple Meads train station, filled with more trampolines than you will ever see in one place. Also featuring trapezes, foam pits and parkour walls. Unfortunately, due to a last minute (and understandable) health and safety issue, there was no actual ‘bouncing’ allowed by punters. We were sad for a second, but we swiftly became distracted by the secret rooms, the music and giddiness of the impending New Year.
In a space this big and unique, exploration was on top of everybody’s agenda. The main room was of course the central point of the event. A vast space, decked out with hundreds of colourful balloons and selectors looking down on us from a high platform above. In terms of grandeur and spectacle, this was up there with some of Alfresco’s finest parties. There was something wonderfully despotic the whole thing. Against a tougher, electro soundtrack, the space stayed full all night. Local favourites like the Stamp The Wax crew held down proceedings with a sterling outing from Aus Music bossman Will Saul. With the lineup previously unannounced, Saul’s set was a delightful surprise. The anonymity of Alfresco’s setup allowed the tunes space to take centre stage – a feeling absent from so much big-room clubbing. In the confines of a colossal trampolining park, ringing in 2017 felt even more special.
Tucked away on the other side of the fun emporium was Room 2 which felt like a different spot entirely. Tauntingly looking out over the trampolines, there was always enough room to dance with beer in hand. Alfresco in-house artists from the label like J. Morrison and Seek put together a more colourful, slightly more mushy menu of disco. No complaining – it felt like a secret gem of room that you couldn’t leave for fear of missing out.
Lastly, special shouts to the Karaoke Caravan. 30 people in a small van, wailing to I Wanna Dance with Somebody and other 80’s classics. I think Like a Prayer featured too. The microphone may have broken at some point, but that didn’t stop the singing. Things got blurry.
It is a hackneyed aphorism which was wheeled out a lot over the evening but the hellish events of 2016 left us needed some kind of lift (excuse the pun). There was music for everyone, enough places to dance, hidden spots for secret chats and sanctuaries where you could howl Whitney at the top of your voice. Alfresco came through.