Open Decks at the Vortex

Second outing after rebirth a few weeks back! I’d been trying to get onto the lineup for the Open Decks at the Vortex event for a couple of months, but either it was full or I was away. But this month the stars aligned in my favour and it was time to cross the river, for a one-hour set in Gillet Square. I like that square, there’s always people drinking or smoking weed at any hour of the day, but it’s friendly and chilled, no menace or aggro, not that I’ve ever seen anyway. The presence of a few jerk shops and the NTS studio seems to inject a measure of calm. On this day local parents also had a temporary playground with some toys set up, so as the afternoon wore on more kids were running joyously riot in the middle of proceedings. Like last time at the Four Quarters my stomach was an unnecessary and unwelcome knot of nerves. I mentioned this to the organiser Soxee Sioux when I arrived and she laughed, wisely told me to relax and just enjoy it.

Of course I need not have worried. Open Decks at the Vortex has been running for six (!) years and Soxee has built up a lovely community vibe around the event. I was on 3-4pm and took over from Soxee who’d been playing some reggae sounds. The crossfader on the mixer wasn’t working (argh! panic!) but using the volume control on the faders was OK. Started off with some cavernous dub techno of Kit Clayton and switched gear to deep, introspective house courtesy of the likes of Burial (his single house track, Rodent) and an older Andy Stott tune, then bumped it up another small notch with the likes of Thrillogy and Homero G. I managed not to completely fuck any of the mixes up although one or two of them were a bit shaky. But most important of all I was really enjoying it, playing out on a loud sound system was great, and also I had a surprise accompanying percussionist Naima, who added an extra later of beats and rhythm, we were feeding off each other during the set and getting into the vibes together. She was really friendly and positive, and this helped me to coast on my nervous adrenaline rather than it being a hindrance. I finished up after what seemed like a very short hour and was full of endorphins (naturally!) from the whole experience.

I was on early, but later on much more people arrived and got dancing into the grooves, drinking and eating out on the square. It was really nice to see such a varied crowd coming along to listen to music from the selectors on a Sunday afternoon. I chatted with some of the other selectors, and cut loose a bit much after I’d wrapped up, knocking back a good few beers in too-quick succession staying until after seven, stumbling home late to the babysitter with a guilty, bad parent drunken slur of thanks. I was in a ridiculously good mood all week after the chance to play, and I’ll definitely come back to it again in the coming months, even just to listen to others. Soxee deserves huge kudos for putting it on for so long and developing it into something special. Here’s a link to the set that I played, one or two shaky transitions, but I hope you get a small fraction of pleasure from listening to it of what I felt from playing it at the Vortex.

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