For a first timer, the Warehouse Project sounds like an incredibly daunting place to visit. There are stories about evil security stripping and grabbing people’s balls, drug dogs at most corners, and a drug overdoses around all the others. Man, who’d want to deal with all that? Well, I wanted to see M.I.A so I guessed I’d just have to deal with all that. I gripped my balls, told myself not to look any animal in the eyes, and to always be aware, lest a drug fuelled maniac would come and beat me to a pulp. I wasn’t even planning to be on anything at all, yet here I was, full of paranoia because of some internet stories.
Which turned out to be just that. Stories.
The atmosphere was friendly, the security didn’t look likely to suddenly drag anyone into a brightly lit for some thorough searching, and the single drug dog was too cute to even come across as threatening, I was expecting Omen dogs! I don’t know why such stories exist to try to put people off, maybe they are products of the government to deter people away from a venue which does have its fair share of drug users, but then we’re just getting into silly conspiracy theory stuff.
The warehouse is a really cool location for a dance driven night, looking like some back streets from a dystopian Blade Runner future. It was exciting just to walk up and down, discovering all the rooms which held different DJs to suit all flavours of musical taste. Room 1 I honestly didn’t quite understand, though it was by far the busiest throughout the night, and it made me worry that perhaps I was suddenly too old to get it, turning 27 at some point during the event. When briefly checking it out each hour, it all seemed to be the sort of stuff that would come out of a Brass Eye drugs special. No, I’m just old.
Room 2 was where I spent most of the night, offering up dance that was easier for my old ears to digest, the sort of thing some hip dance lover would probably own on a CD, and whilst I was an awkward dancer at first, once the song that always plays at the gym I frequent came up, I was in my element. It’s just like pumping weights, it’s just like getting sweat in your eyes! A series of DJs played throughout the night, offering their own variants on high quality dance, but I couldn’t separate them all and tell single any out, the official website didn’t help me put together a room by room list, nor did my memory of the night, for I was so incredibly overwhelmed throughout the night.
The Warehouse Project is a great venue because it has choice, because it has atmosphere, because it always brings a full house, because larger acts like to take part, and because it runs from nine till five. For someone with Asperger’s syndrome, like myself though, it was part of the challenge to enjoy it all whilst dealing with a number of these factors.
I don’t like to go on about such a thing, but I found the large crowds suffocating, the constant flashing of lights distracting, the smoke suffocating on a literal sense (though that was an asthma thing rather than an autistic thing), and the time span breaks my strict routine. If you also dislike these things, the Warehouse Project probably isn’t for you, but it isn’t like a personally dislike these things, my mind wants to enjoy music in live venues as much as possible, of all genres, it’s just that my trigger switch or whatever is that makes me so mentally different likes to power on without any say.
There was at least forty minutes of the night spent trying to keep myself together, people looking at me like I’d taken a bad batch of something, and there was a point in which navigation was like a dream, my mind blank, and each person passing through the smoke dancing looking like spirits rather than anything tangible. I wasn’t there, I was disconnecting myself quickly from the place to defend myself, to ensure I was being no trouble for anyone else. I programmed myself to badly dance, badly smile, and badly move, each touch of someone else’s skin being part of the air rather than anything physical. I had to put rules in place, and eventually I could appreciate the music, adapt to the atmosphere and start loosening up on some of these self-imposed defence tactics.
Then we had M.I.A. M.I.A’s rap dance music, or however else you’d describe it, was ideal for such a venue, and Room 1 was full to the point that I had someone’s arms resting on my shoulders, someones hair resting in my face, and I think I swallowed every breath because there was no free space to breath. But I’d already sorted myself out and was starting to fully embrace the night for what it was, and M.I.A’s music played live, pulling out the best of her material, though only playing a little off her latest album ‘AIM’ which felt a little unusual considering how tours tend to go post album launch, made so much more sense than it often does on record.
It also looked great, when I managed to catch a glimpse of something, with bars separating the sound team from the singers and the fan taking selfies whenever he could, who was invited on stage for some reason. I’d have loved to be closer, loved to be able to see it all, but the music was enough, it made the challenges I had to undertake worth it, and for a minute, just a minute, I thought I could dance like the rest of them.
Though after the show, people began to clear in large numbers, and there I was again dancing back in Room 2, realising just how much of a poorly programmed robot I actually was.
It was time to go home.
And that was my Warehouse Project story.