27 November - 2 December
Stamina clubbing is not a new concept. From Castelmorton’s famous week-long freeparty to Claire Danes’ excruciating address on Berghain, the marathon session has always occupied a special place in dance music’s collective consciousness.
The inaugural edition of Bucharest’s Interval 100 however, was something of a novel spin on the idea of lasting the distance across a weekend- the idea of going out for a really, really, really long time taken to the Nth degree. From the moment the festival began on Friday evening, the music was to run continuously for 100 hours across three venues until its wide-eyed conclusion in the early hours of Wednesday with big-name international acts joining a considered selection of Romanian DJs including local heroes Raresh, Petre Inspirescu, and Rhadoo.
Unfortunately, in the weeks preceding the festival Bucharest was struck by tragedy. A fire at nearby club Colectiv claimed the lives of over 30 attendees, triggering mass protests that ultimately led to the resignation of Prime Minister Victor Ponta. A subsequent legislation crackdown by the city’s Emergency Situations Institute resulted in the eleventh hour closure of all but one of the festival’s venues.
The organisers of Interval responded to this unprecedented turn of events commendably, making the gut-wrenching decision to slash some of the likes of Nina Kraviz, Jackmaster, and Mano Le Tough the bill in order to keep the show afloat and splitting the remaining lineup across Club Control’s two rooms.
When the doors of Control opened on Friday the mood was understandably pensive, but as Melodie began his opening set there was a feeling of tentative optimism amongst the crowd, a sense that in spite of the bizarre, turbulent, and sad events that had beset the event, the party should and would continue.
Whilst apprehensions had begun to creep in about spending two days inside a single venue, the club itself was near-perfect, comprised of a 500-capacity main room overlooked by a mezzanine and a darker, cosier room two next door.
A welcome upshot of the revised was that the remaining artists were generally afforded a longer set times, something that Kowton took full advantage of as he stepped up around three a.m, kicking off with a salvo of roughly-hewn Livity Sound classics before plunging head first into two hours of sparse, clattering, techno that quickly packed out Control’s second room.
Fellow UK export Youandewan faced something of a challenge following Kowton’s boisterous workout but did so with alacrity, weaving his way through a densely-packed set of melodious 4/4 in front of an appreciative room well past sunrise.
Upon returning to Control in the late afternoon of Saturday the crowd had noticeably thinned, but we were pleased to find L.I.E.S frequenter Terekke keeping the sparsely-populated main room moving with a assortment of upbeat vocal house. Those remaining on the floor were few in number, and yet there wasn’t a lick of self-consciousness about the place.
In fact, the scene exemplified one of the best outcomes of Interval’s non-stop policy- although the crowd waxed and waned at different points across the weekend, the sheer volume of music on offer lent an unhurried air to proceedings, with a convivial atmosphere more akin to a house party than a conventional club night.
An exhaustive set-by-set review of the following days wouldn’t do Interval justice. The rest of the weekend slipped by in a haze punctuated with myriad highlights from the brilliant rolling precision of Bucharest locals Romansoff, Paul Popa, and Raresh to a blistering Sunday night showcase that included DVS1, Ryan Elliot, and Marcel Fengler.
By Monday evening a kind of surreal fug had set in, and whilst another successive session of on-the-nose house and techno might have crossed the line into tedium, the night was fortunately one of the most varied in terms of programming.
Prolific Romanian duo Khidja’s chuggy balearica paved the way for what was undoubtedly one of the best sets of the festival from Hunee, who delivered a joyous, eclectic three-hour masterclass culminating in Mary Clark’s anthemic disco classic Take Me I’m Yours. By comparison, Ame’s deeper-than-deep grandstanding in the main room felt a little linear, and we soon found ourselves back next door watching Young Marco bounce back and forth between coldwave and classic electro.
Unfortunately we had to depart Bucharest at midday on Tuesday (or hour 86 on Interval time), making our final exit from Control as Marcel Dettmann concluded a sustained assault on the main room, which was still packed on account of it being Great Union Day, a national holiday.
The irony of being granted an extra day’s raving by the same authority that had nearly put paid to the entire festival wasn’t lost on those we spoke to, but as Interval entered its final stretch there was a sense of accomplishment. Despite some seemingly insurmountable odds, the 100 hour mark was well within sight.
Though more variation in venues would have undoubtedly enhanced the event, Interval’s original concept was so ambitious in scope that even its severely downsized iteration felt like an impressive feat. The event’s future is still uncertain at this point but should it return at full force then it promises to be a very serious contender indeed.