Our contributor Mark Davis recently spent some time in Poland and documents his experience, sharing how clubbing is advancing as the world enters a phase of living with COVID-19. He attends the iconic Polish gabber party and Collective, ‘Wixapol’.
With the world slowly opening back up, we are seeing the much eagerly awaited return of nightlife all over the world, but for us residing in Ireland it is a different story as we are currently awaiting Government guidelines and a roadmap to return.
Here in Ireland, EU membership presents a loophole in the easing of restrictions which means when an individual is fully vaccinated or presents a negative PCR test, they can travel to any EU state or to the UK with absolutely no restrictions on movement on arrival. Within this loophole an individual can travel from Ireland, where we see the strictest and slowest moving COVID-19 restrictions in all of Europe, to other EU states which have very little restrictions and are all places which have seen nightlife and festivals open for nearly two months now. Makes sense, right?….
With this being said, I am writing about my experience of travelling abroad for parties in the current era of COVID-19 we are living in and delve into the legendary Polish gabber party ‘Wixapol’ and why we need to see more relentless and unapologetic hardcore in Ireland!
I had decided to travel to Warsaw, Poland as soon as the green light for EU travel went ahead, just to get out of Ireland for a few nights and to travel to a city which is less touristy than most. Upon arriving, I was told by a friend that Wixapol were doing parties again and to make sure to check them out. I found out they were hosting a party at Warsaw institution ‘Warszawa Główna Klub’ that Friday night. Wixapol, if you don’t know is a Polish collective that is basically responsible for bringing back the gabber/hardcore sound to Poland and have been responsible for its extreme popularity there since 2014 with their unapologetic and often ridiculous performances. I had been a fan of Wixapol and the Polish hardcore sound for a while now, with artists like Indecorum and Eargasm God catching my attention in particular. I also had loved previous releases on the Wixapol label, their previous Boiler Room Hard Dance streams and releases by adjacent artists on French imprint ‘CASUAL GABBERZ’ too.
What I really love about this sound is the unpretentiousness of it all, with relentless saturated kick drums, upbeat trance like melodies, ridiculously high BPMs and high pitched vocals, but with a distinctly Polish take heard through the vocals. I felt elements of cringe worthy (in the best way possible) ‘hyperpop’ in the tracks I’ve digged through and that really appeals to me so I have been rinsing them in my mixes and sets for a while now. I also loved Wixapol’s content output of just ridiculous memes (albeit all in Polish) on social media and their values to maintain Wixapol as an all inclusive night and a safe space with absolutely no leeway for homophobia, transphobia, and racism. This was refreshing to see in a thriving collective, especially in a country which has unfortunately regressed on LGBTQ+ rights in recent years and is a trend which is seeming to continue with the ultra conservative Polish Government. Despite facing these conservative pressures, in my experience of the night I felt a new generation rise above the institutional discrimination, who congregate with a simple love for gabber.
Upon entering the night, there was no restrictions in place despite capacity. Nightlife has fully reopened in Poland regardless of COVID-19 status, but attendees were advised to stay at home if symptoms had displayed and to regularly sanitise their hands. This may seem too lax for events to run safely, but in Poland the average daily case numbers has been recently averaging 100 cases in a country nearly four times the size of Ireland with a population of 40 million people, which has seen high uptakes in vaccination. Due to this I felt at ease and safe and very excited to get back to a party, also helped by the fact everyone in the club allowed each other their own space to dance.
The first DJ I saw was Ukrainian born ‘Techno Batyushka’ who mixed classic hardcore tunes with the new, and finished with some slavic belters. He has also kindly provided a mix to me for Crane Club after I got in touch, which you can check out here!
I straight away felt that I was at home at Wixapol with the pelting beats, strobe lights and every single person doing the famous Hakke dance which is a gabber staple I quickly learned. Next up was Mikouaj Rejw who I had known from Boiler Room before and provided a set full of EXTREME pop and commercial club classic bootlegs. My personal favourite was the ‘Michael Grey – Out of Touch’ bootleg, the energy was unmatched and a throwback to collective Mi of Sound compilations as a yungun’. Next up was Carollė Süss which was a set I literally lost it at! The set was comprised of blends of jersey club, Gabber, DnB and Experimental sounds and included some of my favourite releases in recent times from TNGHT, SOPHIE, HDMIRROR and Gabber Eleganza and Shygirl and Sega Bodega. I don’t think I had ever related to a set so much and it was just pure ecstasy to hear SOPHIE’s ‘HARD’ in a club finally after her tragic passing. Next up was Heckboy who provided a set featuring dark Industrial and Hardcore Techno and then DJ Sporty Spice and Torrentz.Eu closed out the night with some more meme worthy hardcore, and of course distinctly Polish twists on the genre.
To be able to finally club again, albeit in a different country, was an unparalleled feeling that was well-needed after the last difficult 18 months. The experience was heightened by unlocking a local gem in the Polish scene by going to a Wixapol party. Hearing so many genres and tracks that I wouldn’t have usually heard in Ireland was also incredible. I truly believe that Ireland would benefit with more people running all inclusive hardcore parties or even just multi-genre parties at fast BPMs. Perhaps, a Gabber and Cans party is in order as soon as we can?