Saturday night around 10pm, I walk into Faktorý, Sunday jazz bar, weekend electronica venue and it’s empty. Like, actually empty. Well, okay the musicians and the bartender are there. I can understand this, with a plethora of fantastic bands playing, no one is going to go to dance at a house night, which they could do anywhere else, especially as there isn’t a particular scene for it in Iceland. But man, there are all sorts of reasons to go.
1. The bar guy is really sweet and will call the not-so-nice security guard if say someone takes their top off and starts rubbing up on your fake tan as if he forgot to put his on. 2. You might meet Pedro from Retro Stefson, you like those guys right? You wanna be like those guys… 3. The wooden floor really vibrates hard. 4. You’ve never seen an Icelander dance to house music.
Bypass are like a house electro deep-sea dive. Their brand of base and tin orca whale sounds creates an almost cinematic experience that I just couldn’t help but love. Luckily these guys, Doddi and Einar, had a sense of humour whilst they played almost their whole set only to me, the banner for Iceland Airwaves fittingly fell down behind them. If this was any other weekend, the dance floor would be full of people. I have to say I was relieved when an hour in, a bunch of people turned up and rocked out.
Finally an audience! Like true DJs they were only truly in their element when a few people turned up to dance. Stepping up the beat, scratching and beeping it up. If this festival was in Berlin or East London, these guys would be not be out of place.
Side note: As a Londoner, I have never seen more weird dancing to this kind of music. Salsa robots and contemporary dance are all the rage in Reykjavík apparently. I spotted the two Londoners immediately. This goes some way to illustrating just how young this scene is in Reykjavík but also how naively beautiful it could be. Let’s start a movement where we all go dance ala Kate Bush to house DJs. It will be AWESOME!
HouseKell, a one man, you guessed it, HOUSE DJ, who has recently won the Movida Corona DJ contest. Uplifting, with lots of female vocal samplers, this is what I imagine Ibiza and Ayia Napa sound like. I was ready to get my sunburn and grill sunglasses on.
It may have been empty but I didn’t lose out. The bar man is my best friend and my brain has been massaged by electrowaves. I feel ready to party. Cue Sindri Eldon at Amsterdam.
I’ve spent the day going to some epic shows shows, and even played one myself. It’s now past 1AM, and I’ve had both a long day and a full, satisfying night. However, in Reykjavík this is about the time the nightlife is typically just starting to shift into gear. With the exception of recovering alcoholics I’m probably the only person in Iceland who doesn’t drink alcohol. Nonetheless, I enjoy dancing. So it’s time for me to check out the rest of the DJ sets at Faktorý Downstairs.
I snake my way through Faktorý and into the “Downstairs” back room where it’s all going down. The scene is post-apocalyptic. Through the dark haze I can make out what must be the few survivors left on the planet, out to get their kicks, clinging to the sides of the room and writhing to the DOOF DOOF DOOF DOOF.
steps out to take over the turntables, puts on some more DOOF DOOF DOOF DOOF. Pedro Pilatus is the littler of the brothers from the band Retro Stefson — the one who knows his way around a bass. At some point the most inebriated festivalgoers must have realized that the shows they had been at had been over now for almost an hour, and they start to straggle in and fill the floor. It quickly becomes a fully-fledged party.
The rhythms transition from one syncopated rhythm loop to another. We even get a Retro Stefson remix. The bass makes my neck jiggle (which is impressive, since I have 0% body fat). Everybody here is losing a bit of hearing tonight. The room fills with wafts of smoke from the fog machine, and wafts of weed from the hidden back room. The dance floor is filled with the ominous glow of frantic text-messagers. People push their way through the thickening crowd to argue and make up. I try to make up some cool dance moves, but nobody is impressed. It seems the “slouch and sway” is the dance move of choice for the night. Unnsteinn–the bigger of the Retro Stefson brothers–determined to remedy this, takes the mic. He adds “fucking clap” and “fucking jump now” to the audience’s dance repertoire.
The transition to Hermigervill
‘s DJ set is marked the arrival of his signature staccato sequenced analog synth sound. It’s a bit kitsch, but damn cool anyways. From there his set goes everywhere, from sixties soul to nineties techno-pop, with remixes of Ojba Rasta and Retro Stefson thrown in for good measure. Hermigervill puts the same fun into his DJ set as he does his performances. Throughout the set spontaneous crowd sing-a-longs break out, even to instrumental tunes.
It’s going on 5AM, and at this point the dance floor is really packed, to the point where the “slouch and sway” is the only feasible dance move. Or so we thought! Mr. Crowd Control himself, Unnsteinn, is back on the mic, with the delicacy of an drill sergeant. There is no foreplay with this man. He’s so aggressive! And so we “fucking jump” and “fucking clap,” lest we get beat up. DOOF DOOF DOOF. What is that smell? It doesn’t even smell like sweat anymore. Festering crotch.
It ends at quarter to five. Everybody is so wasted out of their minds. I may not understand DJ/club culture at all, but I can see that the DOOF DOOF DOOF worked. People had a engaging time and lots of beer was sold. The DJs have provided a soundtrack to a night as debaucherous as any in this town, which are regularily quite debaucherous as I understand.
I get ready to leave and find my jacket on the couch. It’s wet, and I don’t even want to try to figure out what it smells like. I try to block it out.