"Are they dancin'?" a bewildered clubber asked me, faced with three folk all in white shimmying behind gauzy netting. The irony of his question was delicious given the fact that behind him hundreds of groovers were seriously funking it up on the dance floors, blissfully ignorant that a choreographed dance performance was taking place in the corner.
This was contemporary dance - the kind you ordinarily pay money to sit and watch - meets club culture. Choreographer Gary Lambert (who has worked with Roni Size on similar projects) and his company had collaborated with SLAM DJs Stuart & Orde, and guest DJ Carl Cox, to present XXL, a two-part performance which extra-extra-larged it up from about 1am, just as things were getting hot and sweaty. Most of the crowd were there either for the near-legendary Cox, or just as regular punters at this hugely popular monthly Pressure night.
The collaborative effort got off to a horribly naff start, with two female dancers writhing around a bit in a sort of net curtain cage in the corner of the bar area. Given the fact that most of the clubbers didn't know to expect a proper, respectable contemporary dance performance, you can imagine the response. Blokes stared, not believing their luck. It all looked a bit like fully-clothed eroto-pervy lap dancing or foxy ladies brought in to spice up Top of the Pops.
Coolness was restored in the second part of the performance, with Lambert joining in on a larger raised area in the innermost arch of this dark, dank club. It was a simple and slightly spacey performance, with soft white and blue lighting, limited projections on to the surrounding gauzy screens and slow, seductive movements to some lethally heavy industrial trip hop. As Carl Cox and chums built up the big crunching beats, Lambert and Co layered movements into a soothing, calming whole.
For a crowd largely sorted for Es and whizz, it deliberately offered chill-out potential and thankfully was a world away from a social experiment on Newsnight last year when they put an opera singer into a club.Once it got into its serene, languorous stride, XXL was about as fine an example of this kind of collaboration as you can imagine - laid-back, entirely optional viewing, sensitive to the fact that most people just wanted to dance rather than watch other people doing it.
When it finished, the small crowd turned back to where Carl Cox was brewing up a storm on the dancefloor, keen to get back to the much more serious business of their own choreography.Reuse content