Kicked into life in 2005, the reputable Alfresco Disco is a semi-rare and always unique event that is hotly anticipated amongst lovers of secretive gatherings. For over a decade, it’s held its own in Bristol’s packed music calendar due to its off-the-grid mentality and, most importantly, its spirit. Peddling music not money, the Alfresco team’s objective is to deliver unforgettable music and arts events hosted in imaginative locations.
Revealing only a theme and a date, the Alfresco parties appear to be a simple concept. You can rest assured, however, that the team behind the event make up for this apparent simplicity in other areas. With the lineup and the location left a secret until the 11th hour, you can expect the unexpected as the hidden rave promises to be full of surprises – and who doesn’t like a surprise?
With the lineup and the location left a secret until the 11th hour, you can expect the unexpected as the hidden rave promises to be full of surprises
With a loyal following based on a solid reputation, Alfresco guests splash the cash without a clue who’s playing. However, past acts scale between fresh, upcoming talent and major names like Eats Everything, Romare, Alex Boman and Session Victim. Plus, there’s something particularly exciting about being transported to an unknown location full of surprise musical talent, to then immerse yourself in an out of the ordinary party experience.
Earlier this month, the Alfresco team delivered another shindig to our doorstep named Modular which was, once again, a knock-out. In keeping with the Alfresco style, Modular was cloaked in mystery, though ticket holders were told to expect structures, textures and soundscapes with stunning light boxes, bewildering synthesisers and astounding visuals spread across multiple spaces.
We were also told to come dressed up as ‘part of something’, such as Tetris, Tribes, Russian dolls, etc. Our next instructions were extremely clear cut – catch a bus from the city centre that would take us to the secret location where we could expect a proper party.
Bus tickets were an extra £5.60 and without tickets for every guest, including myself, some were left to make their own way there. Luckily, the event was only 10 minutes from the city centre so taxi prices weren’t too extortionate.
Once we arrived, it transpired that we would be dancing the night away in a couple of warehouses pimped out with imaginative, eye-catching visuals curated by Bristol based co-operative Limbic Cinema. The Alfresco Disco team also worked with Christmas Faulds and Rigger to transform the space and it was clear that they had paid close attention to detail to create an event that was both visually stimulating and immersive.
With excitement levels at their peak, we were itching to sniff out all that Modular had to offer. Though upon seeing a rather large queue at the bar, we prioritised and grabbed a couple of pints first, priced at £4.50. You could also sink a spirit and mixer for around £4 or a glass of wine for £4.50. Those that were a little peckish could gobble some meaty treats from an Artisan burger van for around a fiver, which also provided a vegetarian option and coffee for those in need of some caffeine for the long, fun-filled night ahead. For the glitter monkeys in need of some extra sparkle, there was also a festival-esque glitter stand. In lieu of a particularly easy fancy dress theme, a go-to for the girls this year was to don a colourful wig and a face full of glitter which, I admit, I also fell victim to.
Room 1 was hosting home-grown talent Thrilogy, A Sagittariun, Lord Leopard and London Modular Alliance
Pint in hand, we went over to check out who would be gracing the decks that evening, unannounced. Room 1 was hosting home-grown talent Thrilogy, A Sagittariun, Lord Leopard and London Modular Alliance, with Ere Wax, Tee Mango Millionhands and Auntie Flo in the other. A personal highlight was Cornish cat Lord Leopard who delivered a contagious, melodic, techy sound that got everyone knee deep in some edgy beats. Glasgow producer and mastermind Auntie Flo also delivered a memorable set with his blend of club music and international sounds, keeping the warehouse walls shaking and people’s feet moving.
Glasgow producer and mastermind Auntie Flo also delivered a memorable set with his blend of club music and international sounds
The Drum Machine also held an interactive music session in a shipping container for those wanting to bust a groove to their own music, allowing Alfresco guests to jam out beats together. Supersmash took over another container, providing great vibes all night long for an additional, more intimate party.
It is safe to say that Alfresco’s events are incredibly produced and are clearly one of Bristol’s most innovative raves. The atmosphere was simply great with everyone in high spirits as I bore witness to the pure love everyone harbours for Alfresco. With each one having a completely different vibe and personality from the last, the secret shindig is sure to offer something completely different every time. What will the Alfresco team come up with next?
Words by Georgie Partington
Photos by Khris Cowley for Here & Now