Early last year, myself and my most important advisor (family excepted) decided that we would have a party weekend away somewhere.
Ideally I wanted to go to a country I’d never visited, and again ideally somewhere inexpensive.
We batted a few ideas around but given that we intended it on being a clubbing weekend, and most of my favourite DJs nowadays are from Romania, it made sense to visit the new centre of minimal techno – like visiting Berlin would have in 2004 when the last wave of minimal was really starting to make waves.
For a variety of reasons it didn’t happen – money, studying, work, detoxes and more detoxes – the dreadful nightclub fire then put paid to any chance of going in late 2015 as most nightclubs were closed whilst safety checks were carried out.
We did consider doing Time Warp in Germany instead but Easter clashed, and I really did have my heart set on going to the heart of the scene that excites me so much right now, so many great producers and DJs – Barac, Cristi Cons, Arapu, Priku, Dubphone, Kid Chriss, Zefzeed, VincentIulian, Vid, Petre Inspirescu, Rhadoo, Raresh, Groovesh, Funk E, Egal 3, Nu Zau, NTFO, Livio & Roby, Lumieux, Melodie, Mihai Popoviciu, Motiv, Dan Andrei…
I could go on and have probably missed some obvious ones – maybe one or two of them are actually from Essex but you get my drift. The Romanian scene is currently almost as exciting as Berlin 10-15 years ago Something very, very special is brewing and I wanted a taste.
There was a slight problem in that very few events in Romania are advertised more than a few days in advance – unlike over here in the UK where promoters are probably about to start selling NYE tickets.
And there was a more moderate-sized problem – Sunwaves, a pretty massive minimal techno festival in Romania started the weekend after.
The only reliable source to hear of events was checking dozens of Romanian DJ pages the week before but I’d been checking every week and there were always some good events.
However I spent all week prior to leaving, looking for something on the Friday night (to avoid too traumatic a plane journey back on the Sunday). No minimal techno. I spent hours combing Facebook. Nothing. Nada. Nicht. Until late Thursday evening, finally a party appeared – I’d never heard of the DJs but their music was nice so all was sorted.
Of course, upon arrival in Bucharest, the party had been cancelled. We walked to the venue anyway – and it was closed.
Saturday we had three options, though one was fairly average not-very-deep deep house, one was out of town and the other was in Club Guesthouse.
It made most sense to go to the proper nightclub and we arrived into Club Guesthouse by around 1am – given that parties apparently tend to go on a rather long time in Bucharest we didn’t want to be too early – yet we had a midday check-out to contend with too.
Entry was straight-forward and efficient – no searches as they didn’t seem to have any security – my eastern European companion said this was a British thing. Although it was dark and I was semi-drunk, it seemed to be part of either an office block or a residential block – though the rest of the building may have been empty.
There was quite an extended chill out area before we entered the main area. Décor was mostly black and quite minimal. It then opened up into to a main room – the first half of which had a bar on the right, some staged seating to the left, and a corridor to the toilets to the left of that.
The front half was the dancefloor, with a very spacious DJ booth right at the front. I’d guess that you could safely fit 800 people in there.
It is fair to say that we immediately felt at home. We grabbed a drink and headed straight for the dancefloor where Melodie was playing a sublime warm-up set.
This was what we came to Bucharest for.
Sadly it didn’t last much more than an hour. Cab Drivers came on around 2pm, and didn’t change the music style too much at first, continuing on a more minimal theme, with some dub techno moments too. But as their set progressed, they played some increasingly tough tech-house kind of stuff.
Some tracks were good – others a bit predictable. And no Romanian minimal techno, which is what we came for.
We left around 5:30am, which gave us about 5 hours sleep (yes we slept after clubbing) before a long but relatively non-traumatic journey home. We really should have booked the Monday off work.
The crowd were a mixed kind of European clubbing cognoscenti, but heavily weighted with Romanians – unlike in the UK there was little evidence of drug-taking though you’d assume something given that many of them were in for the long haul.
Drinks were cheap for a club – we were paying around £3-4 for a double vodka mixer – entry was ridiculously cheap at about £5.
The toilets were dark and basic – a similar feel to the old 93 Feet East bogs. And the soundsystem was clear and relatively powerful – it looked like a Funktion One set-up but I couldn’t see the branding.
I don’t think we quite sampled the essence of Romanian minimal techno in the way that we were looking for but as a whole the adventure was excellent, the club was very good and the music was good – especially Melodie’s warm-up who I can very highly recommend.