Who doesn’t want to dress up with their friends and bash them with inflatables to hardcore for Christmas? If you haven’t heard of BangFace before then I will need to explain a few things… Dubbed by founder James St Acid as a ‘neo rave Armageddon’, BangFace celebrates old school rave. Its club nights and boat parties involve fancy dress, dancefloors full of inflatables and funny slogans. 

With humble beginnings in a converted toilet in Shoreditch in 2003, BangFace has gone from strength to strength. Top of the BangFace calendar is its weekender – a three-day festival held in Pontins, Southport which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. 

BangFace has gained something of a cult following – the reason for its popularity being its utter uniqueness. It’s a kind of neo-apocalyptic fantasy land reminding partygoers of the true reason to go out: 1. to be silly , 2. have fun and 3. never to take themselves too seriously. 

Hosting their Christmas party at Old Crown Courts on the ominous Friday 13th,, the results were in and with the Tories victorious, it was a sad day for hippies and ravers all over the land, but that wasn’t going to stop the BangFace ‘Hard Crew’. 

It was a first for Bristol to be hosting the annual Xmash party and securing the Crown Courts as a venue must have been a deciding factoring the dress up theme: Law and Disorder. ‘Neo rave Armagaddon’ it was upon entrance, the bass bins heavy and cops, robbers, judges and Santas spilling out in all directions. We were in for a night of acid, jungle, rave hardcore, drum and bass, breakcore, bass, techno and electronica. 

The Crown Courts is, architecturally, one of Bristol’s best venues. There were three main rooms open, two court rooms and ‘the dungeon’, featuring winding decrepit corridors and old police cells. The court rooms and entrance hall are spacious and opulent with high vaulted ceiling and marble pillars, yet falling into decay with peeling wallpaper and chipped stucco. Topping the bill were some absolute corkers – Altern8, Luke Vibert, Technical Itch, Manni Dee, Remarc, Sam Binga and DJIPE. 

Altern8 provided the old school rave flavour, wearing their trademark gas masks and chemical warfare suits.  Combining elements of acid house, electronica and breakbeat we heard biggest hits Activ-8 and E-vapor-8. The Dutch DJIPE played a super rowdy set featuring elements of breakcore, drum and bass and hardcore, the mosh pit going full force with inflatables raining down from the sky. It felt like being sixteen again.  Technical Itch’s set in the court room was lively too. The duo made up of Darren Beale and Mark Carro are known for their hard and heavy drum and bass, and punters were dancing like frenzied toddlers.

the mosh pit going full force with inflatables raining down from the sky

I caught Luke Vibert’s euphoric set for some more old school rave tunes; the guy is a genius. There was a nice balance of old school rave and hardcore/breakcore throughout the night, allowing a chance to alternate between a casual bop and viciously throwing yourself around. As a BangFace regular, the election results seemed to make punters go in even harder with mosh pits in every room.  

The DJs in the dungeon played behind iron grating – the setting was apt to dish out some bassline punishment. Stand out sets came from Cervical Snare back to back with boyfriend Doomham, Dr Bastardo and Chef Bozwan, who manages Bristol core label, Coreligula. 

Theoretix played an unrelentingly intense terrorcore set at around 200 bpm

Upstairs, Theoretix played an unrelentingly intense terrorcore set at around 200 bpm. Sweaty bodies were everywhere and it felt like some issues were being worked out on the dancefloor. Inflatable Fuhrer provided some bassline and pazrammer played his smile-inducing, Gameboy-inspired mash up. 

The lineup resembled a journey through hardcore rave music for the last thirty years, though one of the best things about BangFace is that everyone is so lovely. BangFace’s unpretentiousness permeates into its guests and everyone is welcomed and included.

everyone is welcomed and included

The BangFace clubnight events give a glimpse into the madness of the three-day festival held at Pontins, Southport each spring. Music is hosted in the main venue, with the infamous jungle/breakcore pool party, chalet afterparties and BangFace’s own live TV channel run by Chinstroke Records and broadcast in every chalet, with an on-site set you can visit and participate in. One of the talking points of last year was a hour-long segment with two guys shouting repeatedly at a pork pie ‘Alexa! Play Pumped Up Kicks by Foster the People’. Whether the events of BangFace are pure genius or pure idiocy, sometimes it’s hard to tell, but you always leave with a smile on your face. 

What a way to spend Christmas with your rave family

Saint Acid & The Bang Face Hard Crew traditionally closed the night, ending with a remix of Rihanna and Calvin Harris’ We Found Love. No BangFace party could be complete without its iconic slogans and party goers were holding them aloft like trophies. Some of this year’s highlights: ‘Sleigh my name, Sleigh my name’, ‘Rudolph, the Polo Nosed Reindeer’ and ‘Jungle all the Way.’ Inflatable bananas, elfs, giraffes and beachballs whacking you in the head, surrounded by coppers, judges, robbers and Santas – it was pure Christmas chaos, as far removed from the traditional sit down meal with the family as could be. 

What a way to spend Christmas with your rave family! Till the next time BangFace, now where are my brain cells…?

Photos by BangFace

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