After throwing parties for 18 years, it’s safe to say Secretsundaze has pretty much perfected the art. Celebrating authentic, roots-driven dance music, it was founded by James Priestley and Giles Smith back in 2002 as a way to share their passion for great nightlife.
‘There was no big idea or grand plan,’ says Smith. ‘It was very simple, organic and pure in form. We just wanted to throw a beautiful party in a nice location with great people and great sound, and to promote and celebrate the true spirit of dance music.’
This summer, the Secretsundaze schedule is packed with parties around London. Unlike some other dance music nights, though, the duo behind Secretsundaze are adamant that their events are parties, not club nights – and it’s all about being a big family. ‘Having run the party for 18 years, there’s now a big community of people who attend, which makes for a special atmosphere,’ explains Smith. ‘The crowd is diverse in every way.’
‘We want to throw beautiful parties with great people to celebrate the spirit of dance’
Music-wise, visitors should expect an eclectic mix of Nineties house, alongside broken beat, jazz, garage and Detroit techno, to name just a few. And with parties often going on all afternoon and into the next day, it’s a great way to experience Berlin-style nightlife without getting on a plane.
‘We want to give people a safe and comfortable place to express themselves, to let loose and forget about their daily troubles,’ says Smith. ‘But it can also go much deeper – broadening people’s minds and teaching love and acceptance. Deep friendships and relationships have been cultivated at the party and we’ve lost count of the number of couples that have met here and are now married with kids.’
But its most exciting event is taking place over the August Bank Holiday weekend, where it’ll celebrate its anniversary with a 16-hour party from two in the afternoon all the way through ‘til 6am. There’ll be two terraces to enjoy the sun during the afternoon, as well as a packed schedule of world-class DJs, including headliner Floating Points, Chaos in the CBD, Lakuti, DJ JNETT and Sven Atterton. And all that in the much-loved clubbing spot Oval Space, which has floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the decommissioned gas works for impressive sunrise viewing.
At a time when London’s nightlife is said to be diminishing rapidly (see p.13), Secretsundaze’s 18 years of success shows it’s not quite dead yet. Smith argues the authorities could still do a lot more to protect clubs and the people they employ, nevertheless ‘there’s lots to be positive about’. ‘London still has one of the most vibrant scenes on the planet, and so many exciting genres of music have come out of London.’
Until then, Secretsundaze’s packed schedule of dusk-’til-dawn parties will just have to do.
Secretsundaze Turns 18! is on 24 August, 29-32 The Oval, E2 9DT, secretsundaze.net