Reliving the halcyon days of progressive house music. It’s rather difficult to push the boundaries…
Photo Credit: Gustavo Calvo
Almost one year ago, progressive stalwart Nick Warren had to leave his beloved Argentina in a rush due to the local government’s announcements and health policies that would throw the South American country into the world’s longest lockdown. This also meant the cancelation of a goodbye show, which left thousands of fans heartbroken. But since our affair with the Englishman is a tale of love, this would not be the end of us.
COVID-19 not only took away our semblance of a normal life, but it also took away our churches, our cathedrals. The places where we go to dance our troubles away as we throw every care in the world to the wind. Then again, if there’s something we already knew when this outbreak happened, is the fact that some pleasures and desires are better met when the fight goes on for longer than we first expected. So it’s only fitting for us to pick off where we last left things.
To do so, I headed out to the Costanera in Buenos Aires, most specifically, to Mandarine Park, one of the city’s most important venues. As only open-air events are allowed by the legislation to draw big crowds, Mandarine welcomed us into its Park Area, a spacious lot where boxes for 6 and 8 people were set up, separated by the now mandatory 6-feet rule. Upon first glance, it’s impossible not to recognize and acknowledge the mammoth of a task that must have been re-structuring such an ample space for this new COVID-era.
The access was incredibly well organized and swift, with hostesses that would accompany all attendees to their respective boxes, and explained in detail all the protocols set in place. Our bar orders would be delivered straight to our table through a QR code and virtual menu, and no individual drinks were served. Being seated in front of a massive stage that was blasting kicks and basslines directly at me was certainly a rare feeling at first, and I wondered how this would impact the general overall vibe, and how that would play out as DJs crafted their sets, feeding off from a different energy than the usual one.
Living up to their reputation as two of the finest progressive house artists in the world, local heroes Martin Garcia and Marcelo Vasami delivered an absolute masterclass in what a warm-up should be. In a performance for the books, the pair dived deep, letting basslines, percussions, and drones stream freely, without resistance. Only after the first hour had transpired did they let loose vocals and melodies. While many believe that a warm-up is just playing at a low tempo, Garcia & Vasami showed absolute class, understanding how a proper set should blossom, luring listeners like the chant of sirens. After two impeccable hours, it was time for the legend himself to take center stage. Bathed in applause, Vasami and Garcia stepped down, with a crowd longing to switch into the next gear.
Under a vigilant eye displayed behind him on the massive led screens, Nick Warren set off, taking no prisoners, knowing that part of this crowd had waited over a year for this reunion. People in their boxes were in full swing, and any possible uncertainties about how the new format would affect the future of clubbing had dissipated before I knew it. The energy was palpable, and Nick knew that.
For almost 4 hours, Nick commandeered a sea of souls that had completely surrendered to the experience, seeking to quench their thirst for proper progressive house music. Colorful and vibrant throughout, Warren’s set saw the Bristol-native in full force, blending tracks with expert care and imagination, where vocal hooks and mesmerizing lead lines reigned supreme as the captivating visuals enhanced the narrative. One that reminded us just why we love this so much. Primal, but with an eye on the future, Nick took us to a secret place where he showed us something we had never seen before. And that intimate communion was reciprocated with each step, each hand in the air, each smile, and every bit of laughter
A night to remember, these are the performances that have made Nick what he is, a true legend. And more importantly, it provided a glimpse of hope for a decimated dance scene. Yes, we took a big hit. But, just like anyone in love with their sanctuary, we’re getting up and fighting for what we believe in.
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