As Renaissance prepares to celebrate its ninth birthday, we catch up with Nick Warren and Anthony Pappa in Nottingham...
Renaissance, one week shy of its ninth birthday, is one of the longest running and most prestigious superclubs in the world. It remembers the halycon days of house, and Sasha and Digweed used to virtually live there. Nowadays at Nottingham’s lavish Media, only an elite flavour of DJ is welcome. They probably wouldn’t allow Judge Jules in to clean the toilets.
Tonight, although armed with the firepower of Nick Warren and Anthony Pappa, the ambience is muted and uneasy. Way Out West visionary Warren follows resident Marcus James, and the three tiers of the main room are sparsely populated and the mood despondent. It closes at just three, yet no-one is keen to venture to the floor. As Warren begins his trademark progressive set, drip-feeding the crowd with languid but funky rhythms, the crowd loiter nervously on the periphery. It is all very school disco for a while, everyone too coy to start the dance.
The crowd begin to respond, albeit meekly, to Warren, as the beats march with more gusto, arranging his favoured dark, warped trance around choice Way Out West cuts. It’s the sound that is starting to invade clubland in 2001, emerging from the likes of Renaissance and Bedrock, and oozing into the mainstream of Gatecrasher and Passion.
Anthony Pappa is next, but the beautiful people of Renaissance still refuse to let their hair down. The throng begin to shuffle dejectedly as Pappa’s tunes bristle with energy, tribal rhythms lock horns with an intricate strata of melody. People dance in closed-off huddles, tentative and wary. Party music it certainly isn’t, but there seems to be a dank fog of depression over the night.
So why wasn’t the roof raised, as Warren and Pappa deserved? Maybe everyone is saving their energy for Carl Cox next week, or maybe miserable February is to blame. Only for the last half hour, as Pappa reaches crescendo, does the crowd lose their inhibitions. Was it worth it? The glowstick clubber would certainly be disappointed, but maybe that’s the point. Go judge for yourself.