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Review: Elrow/Kehakuma opening party, 2014

A perfect alignment of quality and quirk. Couldn't be more Ibiza.

“No, no you don't need that much chicken,” a guy yelled into his phone as he walked away from the Kehakuma/Elrow opening at Space. “I'll get you some chicken, OK? Are you still inside?”

That's how our night ended, but for it to make any sense at all I better go back a few paces, to the Space Discoteca, where I was seeing Elrow in its brand new Playa d'en Bossa digs for the first time…

The theme for this week seemed to be all things airline. Digitalism was smashing out the tunes as giant papier maché bi-planes, blimps and even a papier maché person cheerfully flopped over a wing adorned the large stage area at the front of the discoteca. At first I was a little disappointed that such creative decorations were confined mostly to the stage, but later I was to discover that the airline theme would spread through the crowd in a most entertaining and unavoidable fashion. You see part of the fun of Elrow is the fantastic array of oddballs in its employ, who at each party mingle amongst the crowd in full pelt costume, character and craziness. There was a man in a giant passport wallet, knocking drinks out of unprepared hands, there were air traffic control wardens ushering us into optimum dance space, there were air-hostesses on stilts, sexy swat teams, a bearded terrorist, some dude stuck on a toilet, a prima donna Paris Hilton type drag queen with a human poodle in tow… I could go on.

Over in the Kehakuma Terraza Nina Kraviz had the crowd in her pocket the way only she can. Powerful bass trips and strong kicks underpinned soft vocal murmurs, the melodic undertones gradually becoming clearer as she pushed the tempo and the energy forward without remit. The crowd was hugely enthusiastic and, whilst the anarchy in the discoteca was an absolute ball for everyone, there were unmistakable unity on the terraza dancefloor which isn't easily replicated. Kraviz steadily increased the tempo and went into acidy territory as the cheers on the floor rang louder and the fists pumped harder.

Just before 5am we switched back to Elrow, as someone had the tip off that the inflateables were due to drop any minute. A regular fixture at any Elrow party is the dumping en-masse of an assortment of inflateable items upon the unsuspecting heads its attendees. An event not to be missed, as PRs would say. At the moment of the drop, my friend dived into the centre of the action, intent on securing a blow-up something-or-other to take home as a prize. He emerged from the chaos of giant toys with a sparkly hat and the teeniest tiniest inflateable guitar known to man – absolutely beaming. The room was in a state of amiable riot – confetti swirled, props were thrown, everybody was smiling and laughing with everybody else because nothing unites strangers like a silly hat and prop. I was vaguely aware of a blow-up hammer bashing my elbow when somebody put a Chinese conical rice hat on my head and over my eyes and for a while I knew no more.

Before leaving in the early hours of the morning, we cruised via the sunset terrace, where the music and atmosphere was more chilled but no less bizarre. There we found an impromtu game of cricket held with the blow ups with onlookers dancing and cheering, knocking each other's hats off and chasing each others tails. I can only imagine what went down at the after-party across the road at Bora Bora. We ducked back into Kehakuma on the way out to catch a bit of Javi Bora, and the dance floor was still going as strong as next door, but now much darker, with only flashes of red to break the techno shadows. I suddenly felt a little self-conscious of my rice hat. Elrow's extroverted and boisterous personality could be seen to dwarf the subtle, understated Kehakuma, but last night Kehakuma quietly held its own with quality music and strong communal dance floor vibes – and when I say quietly, I definitely don't mean it literally. You could barely breathe for the chest-rattling bass.

Eventually we stumbled out all giggles and vodka-soaked confetti, and that's when I overheard the poultry bargaining gentleman on his phone (“I'll get you some chicken, ok?”). It made no sense whatsoever and yet in keeping with the ridiculous nature of the evening made perfect sense, if that makes sense.

WORDS | Jordan Smith PHOTOGRAPHY | James Chapman

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