What comes to mind when you hear the word “space”? Planets, stars, UFOs? All are valid responses. But if you are a follower of club music, and a regular party goer or promoter, the word has much more modest (but equally frightening) associations. We all know that to throw an interesting party, you need the space to do it – something that is increasingly at a premium, especially in the capital. With clubs shutting down, and developers domineering, the unofficial party scene is more crucial than ever. One of the crews on this mission is Spaced: a team of passionate party planners pioneering the use of off-the-beaten-track venues in London’s edge-lands. In doing so, they have carved out a room of their own for dancers to express themselves in music, decor and outrageous fashion choices. As a result, their resident DJs have picked up a notoriety of their own and have now been booked to play at Butter Side Up at Wire on 23rd August, with whom they share a strong vision for sound, aesthetic and vibe. We spoke to the Spaced crew to find out more about their partying history and philosophy.
What is Spaced?
A collaborative endeavour to create the perfect party. An outlet for a small group of close friends to obsess over aspects of a party which matter most to them, including; sound, lighting, environment and people. A place where people can be fulfilled musically and inspired personally. Most importantly, it is a party which is free from egos, stereotypes and prejudices.
Who’s involved? How did you all meet and decide to run a party?
There are two core founders – Ricky Courtman and Tom Burnell – who have been close pals for many years. Originally, they ran private warehouse parties, but this was restrictive and fell short on their ambition. To realise the grand vision both Nick Rejam (of legendary ‘Rejam’ parties) and Loren Heer (South London’s ‘Rework’ rave) were recruited to add extensive experience and unique skills. Spaced has matured under this collective management for many years.
The first Spaced party listed on Facebook is August 2017 – but did you exist before this? What were you all up to before your current incarnation?
Our first party was March 2014 at the reputable Cafe 1001. After a very successful debut – where one of our good friends Gwenan headlined – we were asked to hold a monthly residency which lasted almost a year. Whilst a fantastic experience, there were several growing frustrations that come with running a club night on Brick Lane – a metropolitan street in the heart of East London. As a result, we moved to the infamous loft in 2015 to begin our new chapter.
You guys love a theme and fancy dress. This is quite a different approach to other parties within the house, techno and minimal scene, which often try to maintain a semblance of sincerity. Do you think there is a growing movement towards the humorous, silly and ironic in the scene?
To us, a party must be more than DJ’s and music. Fancy dress is something we advocate as it creates a fun, relaxed environment. Complemented with décor we provide a playground for imagination and creative thoughts to thrive. This gives people freedom and confidence to be themselves and that’s very important for creating the right vibe. It’s all intended to provide people with an unrivalled experience they want to return for.
Could you tell us a bit about the ‘Spaced Loft’ and the ‘Infamous Boat’? How did you come across these venues? And how important is it for you to use spaces that are off the beaten track?
The Loft is our home. What you encounter in this space is the result of an eight-year trust building mission and on-going friendship with the owner, who we met through our close friend, John Williams. Whilst the spot itself has character, what we do there is indicative of our general approach. It’s less to do with being ‘off the beaten’ track and more about transforming spaces into unique habitats where people’s senses are stimulated.
You have had an array of sick selectors play at past Spaced parties: Christian AB, KRN, Gwenan, The Ghost, Quest. But you also have a very strong team of residents who now have a notoriety of their own. Do you think club culture is losing the significance and impact of resident DJs, with more and more pressure for clubs to book bigger ’marketable’, ‘ticket selling’ DJs?
It’s difficult to comment on other promoters and the culture at large. However, we can share why we chose to focus on residents and the reasons that hasn’t compromised sound at our parties. Firstly, longevity is critical. With ever-rising party costs we felt from the beginning it would be unsustainable – and too volatile – to rely on big names. In those situations, you are only as good as your last booking and that creates a go bigger, spend more mentality – where does it end? Not only this, what we witnessed from friends is an unrelenting pursuit to unearth forgotten music, an unwavering commitment to improving themselves technically and a selfless passion for sharing music. This dedication needs a platform to be recognised and from the very beginning Spaced intended to be that stage.
If you could pick one track to sum up the Spaced sound, what would it be?
At the moment, there is only one it could be. (see below) This track encapsulates everything about Spaced – unique, fun, interesting and vibey.
Are you excited to visit Leeds with your Butter Side Up pals? Have you had any memorable nights partying up north?
We can’t wait to travel North again, this time to join Butter Side Up. The lads are very humble and have a fantastic attitude to parties. We’ve become close over the past months and hope to deepen these friendships as well as start new ones. Our last venture past the Thames – shout out to the Dig Deep boys – was a very memorable event in Newcastle. Northern crowds have always been very positive and receptive to our vibe – here’s hoping for a cracker in a few weeks’ time.