The music started but no sound came out. Headphones tilted to one side. Nina reset the gear and began layering techno into enigmatic house. The crowd stood transfixed, as this new sound is quite different from her sexy slo-mo productions that are now a thing of the past.
Expectations were high on the 4th of May and so was the price tag. This was the launch of Spice BLACK with Nina Kraviz. A gold-class ticket price included drinks, food and transport, to create what was labeled as, “an intimate affair.”
There was much debate over whether this event was setting a precedent for the Sydney club scene. A $150 ticket price no doubt alienated some of the target audience. A lot of Nina’s hardcore fans would not have been able to attend this event. “Where do you draw the line?” was something I regularly overheard throughout the night and some people couldn’t even fathom how to enjoy the event. People were paying the same amount as they would to go see 4 or 5 of their favourite acts play at any Australian music festival such as Future Music or Stereosonic, the latter being where Nina played at last year. There was of course, the possibility that the event was overhyped and people would end up disappointed.
The two story complex in Alexandria was transformed to resemble Sakura, the Japanese cherry blossom festival. The Staff were dressed in traditional Japanese attire, a BBQ was going outside with Japanese delicacies, while cherry blossoms fought for space with neon lights along the roof. I had not seen production quality of this kind in Australia ever before. However, this is the sort of execution I expect from Spice.
The crowd was a mixed bag of Sydney’s top DJ’s, clubbing elite and scenesters. It was noticeably jarring at times. At one point I walked past a group of men staring at the booth, unbeknownst to them, a large number of partygoers had formed a dance circle around them. However, as the night marched on their analyses were cast aside. Everyone was there for the same fundamental reason, to listen to interesting music in a unique environment.
Excellent warm up sets came courtesy of Spice vixens Morgan and Gabby who went back to back for a trippy house adventure. Their brand of dark and deep music was intense and introspective. This was then followed by Nic Scali and Marc Jarvin who got the crowd moving away from the bar and straight to the dance floor with big mid-tempo techno tracks teeing things up for Nina.
As Nina got underway, the crowd began to dance erratically. The cheers rose with every single record mixed. Working off the enthusiasm of the screaming crowd, Nina went harder. Everyone was feeling the beautiful buildup of music Nina was crafting. Just when you thought she was about to bring everybody back to earth, Nina would drop something more aggressive like James Ruskin’s remix of Marcel Dettmann’s record ‘Corebox.’ I was completely bemused at how the set had become increasingly hypnotic and lifting at the same time.
The only mild moment during the set came as a sort of intermission with the Morgan Geist re-vision of Hydronaut’s ‘Deep in the Feeling.’ But no one paused weirdly; it just led the way for more frenetic fist pumping. Nina ensured people got their money’s worth. She knew people paid a lot to get there and there was not going to be any dissatisfied techno customers.
Unfortunately, as it happens too often, the party was over too soon, wrapping up at 10pm. But like everything else at this gig, Spice had it sorted. Arranging transport back to Spice where Nina kicked on for another 3 hour set. What stood out about Spice BLACK was the attention to detail. It not only certified a cool set from one of the world’s top DJs but allowed for a complete sensory experience which produced a dynamic and enriching atmosphere. Despite initial hesitations, Spice BLACK ended up being well worth the money.
Words: Dan Watts
Photos: Patrick from Hobogestapo