Before Saturday, I had only experienced Belfast’s techno scene vicariously through friend’s Facebook feeds, as I chilled at home in my pjs eating ice-cream. Don’t get me wrong, I love a night out, and over my last four years living in the city I’ve made the rounds of the Belfast clubs. While there’s normally a great night in store, I’m never expecting anything new; chart remixes, a few drinks and we’re all having a good time.
I started to pay a little more attention when my classmate, Kristian Glenn, started to get involved. What’s lacking in knowledge of techno music, is made up for in a love of visuals, and Kristian was delving into a space that was combining the two. I’ve worked with Kristian from foundation year, and his artistic and technical ability has crafted a body of work that would stop you in your tracks. Needless to say, I bought my ticket to Lumen 002.
Follow the thumping sound that paved the streets of the Cathedral Quarter, and I found Lumen. The entrance doesn’t look like anything special; there are a bunch of smokers out the front and the foyer looks like any other ticketed event. I’m greeted by a sign that says, ”Strobe lights something something” on a piece of A4 paper stuck to the door, which is probably to tick a legal safety box, but it makes me smile as I wait for my name to get checked off the list.
There’s something about the unfinished, grungy vibe of the Oh Yeah Center that fits an event like this. You feel like you’re part of some underground movement that not many people know about. I walk in and the crowd is front facing; dancing to the music that’s so loud you can physically feel it. There’s not the normal club vibe where creepy men pinch your bum as they pass you. People are there for the music, the visuals, the experience. All that’s left to do is join in.
The visuals create an atmosphere that rise and fall with the music. Abstract video pieces sit behind the DJ, with timed LED lights and strobes filling the remainder of the space. The pacing of the lights in sync with the heavy pulsing of the sound calls for a room of people lost in themselves, dancing with inhibition, having an absolutely cracker night. My only complaint is that I wanted to see more; I would love to see video fill more than one wall, which could add to an even more immersive experience than Guerilla Shout have already created.
Leave the main hall and follow the fully lit corridor of the Oh Yeah to reach a set of projection mapped visuals hiding in the corners of the smoking area, illuminating an otherwise dreary car park. Coming from an immersive dance experience and out into fluorescent lights felt like someone had turned the lights on too early and I wouldn’t have known the additional visuals were there if I didn’t make it that far (I’m not a smoker so I’m probably a minority in that crowd). None the less, these little easter eggs are lost if people don’t see them; connecting the two areas with lights, or similar visuals could ensure as many eyes reach them as possible, as well as creating a more cohesive experience between the two areas.
I love this city, but this did not feel like Belfast…and it was good. If Lumen was a taster of what a small team could achieve with a small budget and heaps of ambition, I cannot wait to see what is to come in the future. All I know, is that there will be a hell of a lot of yeoooooos.