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Sunday, July 10, 2011

So, Was Cocoon In The Park 2011 As Amazing As 2010?

Yes it was.


(I hope Cocoon In The Park don't mind me stealing this photo from their Facebook page - I am terrible at the best of times taking my own photos)

I have that big warm glow in my heart that I do every time I go to Cocoon (or fabric).

Surprisingly though, there was a negative in that it wasn't as well run as last year.  One of the comments many said last year was just how ridiculously well run and efficient it was - German standards rather than English...this year it was English standards!

It wasn't bad, well apart from the 3 inches of piss in the toilets which were nowhere near adequate for the size of the crowd (which appeared much higher than last year) and was quite disgusting, and have probably ruined my trainers - though it was just back to what one expects for a festival in England - crap toilets, long queues at bars (though not as bad as SW4 is) and a slightly annoying token scheme for drinks but I cannot begrudge them for doing so as it is safer - not so many temporary staff to have to trust with the takings.

Oh and why were girls using the male toilets?  I know you might have a bigger queue than us guys, but what would you say if I used your toilets?!  I'm not especially offended but it did seem a bit odd - especially considering the amount of piss they have to walk through!

Anyway, I'm being picky - bar far the most important aspect is the music and it was brilliant from start to finish.

The only other thing that would have made it more perfect would have been some of my beloved friends to have shared the special moments with, but I don't begrudge any of them for not coming, after all about 20 of them came last year and it gave me encouragement to speak to loads of randoms and I did meet some very nice people from as far away as Brazil, Italy, Glasgow...and Wakefield.  Quite a few people I spoke to at the festival had never heard of Cocoon, or even more shockingly, Sven!  How could they?  30 years behind the decks, after all :-)

Anyway, to the DJs which is what I love talking about.

Seth was superb, he played lots of really kind of low-slung bass-heavy slow house music, absolutely perfect warm-up and better than I have ever heard from him.  I had hardly heard of any of the tunes, so much new stuff - unsurprisingly I was dancing within about 2 minutes of getting a drink.

I did find myself dancing opposite Seth Troxler at one point, but then I realised that I had already seen two reasonably good lookalikes for him, and it being Leeds and the sense of humour that they have there, it could have just been an exact copy.  But whoever it was was an exact replica of Seth, if not actually him - same style, same hairstyle, same voice, same glint in his eye - so if was him then big respect for coming and dancing in the crowd and not staying in the VIP area - if it wasn't him then a superb effort at cloning him!

Next was Reboot doing a live set - I'm not a huge fan of his and cannot say that I especially enjoyed his live set.  I much prefer DJ sets to live sets, as I just hear a far higher proportion of tunes I enjoy but we did have the Caminando moment which was superb, glad to see that the DC10 whole crowd sit down happens in Leeds too - most of the crowd seemed to work out what was happening and it was a bit of a "whoooo!" moment.  Sadly for him he did suffer some technical issues near the end - he tried in vain to get it back on course but the flow had stopped, it just seemed to stutter and stumble from there and myself and a fair proportion of the crowd lost interest and went to the bar.

Next was Ricardo - and he was in the "Love is in the air" mood that he has reportedly been in recently - and restored my just marginally impaired thoughts of him following a not so good set at fabric in March, I think it was.  More than restored it in fact.  It is so hard to pick a best DJ from the night but I might just have preferred his set to Seth and Sven, not totally sure.

From minute one, he just had such a warm house groove going on, it was ridiculously sublime and feel good.  He did his usual thing of switching from something nice and housey to the strange tripped-out incredibly repetitive and boring tracks which I love, and work so well because you all of a sudden after 10 minutes of the same few sparse beats hear what you think is the beginning of, for example, Donna Summer's classic from 1977, I Feel Love - then a couple of minutes later think he is just teasing you, half the crowd get bored and start to leave, and then you realise you are in the middle of such an amazing track and the crowd run back to create another typical Ricardo moment.

And not normally one to be afraid of throwing a few curveballs to completely confuse everyone, he surprised many with the sudden inclusion of a classic hip-hop tune - I have about as much like for hip-hop as I do for having a cheese-grater to my ears but I admit, it was good.  Apologies but I haven't got a clue what it was.  A second hip-hop track would have been pushing it a bit far - a did hear a fair few "what the hell's?" from some rather confused people, ha ha!

Sven clearly read that message that I posted on his Facebook wall at the end of 2010 asking for a bit more techno in 2011.  His first track was a definite statement of intent, though he did calm it back down and teased us for a little while, but not too long.

Annoyingly, and you probably don't really want to know this but if you know me, you know that I have little shame - this was when I was rather desperate for a piss and the disgusting state of the toilets, the absolutely crowded-ness and the pressure to perform for all the frustrated people outside waiting for me to finish and the shaking vibrating loos in the ridiculous (but superb) bass made it very difficult and about 145 trips to the toilet later after spending the best part of 2 hours suffering - finally the best moment of the night and I could get back to enjoying the last two hours.  Cocoon - if you read - please take note!  It was not just me, there were probably about 200 people in there at any one time all hating it and quite a few people ended up leaving because of it.  Yes, I know I could have stayed sober all night so it is kind of my fault - but hey I like having fun.

Anyway, back to Papa - the most influential man in my life apart from my real papa, of course.  I do wonder how many more years it will be until my dad wants to come to Cocoon - he is 60 now after all, and the delightful Vamanos was about the same age when he first discovered Sven!  But it will be another 5 years before my dad reads my blog so I don't have any expectations.  It took him about 15 years from when I first introduced him to Kylie Minogue to appreciate her and I have not yet introduced him to Sven - Christmas present perhaps?!

I digress.  What did you expect?!

So, as I said, Sven has read my message to him - or perhaps with his magical powers, he just read my mind.  I do prefer house to techno at the moment, but I fell in love with Cocoon for its unique style of, dare I say it - sexy techno, and it is what I want to hear a fair amount of, especially from Sven, and over the last year or so he hasn't really been playing much techno whenever I have heard or seen him.  I got a taste of his re-found love of techno at fabric in May, but I have to say I have probably never heard him in such devastating and destructive techno form in my life - it did actually get a bit much for me at one point and I had to go sit down to gather my marbles a bit!

But it was superb - Sven at his absolute very best, in his own very unique way.

And to top it all off, he got on the microphone towards the end and had a bit of a chat to us!  It was a nice touch - a few people moaned about it and were like "just keep playing music and shut up" but the absolute vast majority, 99.9% appreciated it, and I already knew this but you could tell his true affection for the city of Leeds and his love for it - much of the crowd probably weren't born when he got his first ever DJ residency in Leeds, back in 1991, at The Orbit.  The special spirit that you get up north in places like Leeds probably helped form who he is now.

I do kind of feel very much at home when I go up north - it is a much simpler way of life than living in Reading/London.  I might have had to spend a total of approximately 16 hours travelling - 9 of those on the way back, including 2 and a half hours at Paddington station where I managed twice to very briefly pass out but suddenly wake up when I realised that I was pouring Red Bull on my crotch - how classy am I?!  That and the trainers soaked in other people's urine.  No wonder the homeless kept coming to talk to me in the station.  That and the people who kept sniggering at me and asking if I was ok...hmm.  Again, I have no shame, I love being me and a big part of who I am is my ongoing love affair with Sven, Ricardo, everyone who contributes Cocoon...and ever-increasingly Seth.  I really could not think of a better set of DJs for me personally over the day - and the set lengths were perfect to get a really good grasp of what each DJ could do.

Cocoon never let me down with regards to the soundsystem at their events, or the production of the event, and it was even better than last year.  I liked that the speakers were hanging so that whenever the wind blew, the speakers blew too so there was absolutely no effect on the crystal clear booming loud sound - when I was sat down it actually felt like the hill the site was on was going to collapse and slide down, such was the power of the soundsystem.  Not so sure I like the glowing red stands that the speakers on stage were attached to and the smoke and fire visuals which for a minute or so worried me dreadfully that the stage was on fire and nobody has noticed - it did freak me out for a brief moment - but just Cocoon being Cocoon - messing with my head.  And there were some other questionable visuals like pictures of naked women and male strippers...erm...someone has a rather strange sense of humour!

I had decided during my traumatic hour or two that I wouldn't be coming back next year - but Sven personally asked me if I would come back next year (ok and the other 10,000 or so) - seriously - how can I refuse?  I don't think anyone could.  Cocoon In The Park was the best day of 2010 and so far, is the best day of my 2011.  No question about it.

End of my clubbing now until pay-day - 28th July Nicolas Jaar, Soul Clap and Gadi Mizrahi are all at fabric, and 30th sees the return of Ricardo, along with the fabulous Deniz Curtel and Craig Richards.  Anyone wants to join me, I would of course, be delighted.

Oh, I haven't mentioned the weather - the clouds were really quite ominous as we approached Leeds, getting increasingly large and thundery-looking and it started to rain just as we queued to get in.  But then it stopped after about 5 minutes and was gloriously sunny the rest of the day.  With a nice breeze to stop it from getting too hot - as you would expect when Sven is controlling the universe - it was perfect!

I am going next year - there is no doubt about it.  I love Cocoon and everything about it - Sven and Ricardo especially, but also particularly the crowd and the ridiculously feed-good factor, the amount of really friendly and lovely people there - and the amazing music.  I cannot recommend it highly enough and I hope at least one of my adorable friends joins me on the adventure next year, especially those who didn't go last year.

See you in September, Sven, and the whole of Cocoon and 6000 other beautiful people - so pleased that they have Nina Kraviz playing in the main room - someone who I absolutely adore - along of course, with Sven, with Seth and Loco Dice playing in the terrace - could I ask for any more?  Oh yeah, I nearly forgot, please feel free to invite me and my very good friend, Matt, to the after-party - I have never been to a Cocoon after-party in Ibiza, and it would make my world.  Ta, much love.  And sort the toilets out for 2012 please!