Body Hammer: Clubbing, but not how you know it

Written by: Tavia Davies

As a chirpy 18 year old, I’d get on down in Leeds’ clubs every weekend, ending each night drenched in Red Stripe and smeared in burgundy lipstick, spiked knuckle duster rings ripping holes in my tights and eventually breaking my nose in a pair of flatforms. Ah, the wild days of youth. Now? I spend my weekends drinking homemade toasted almond cocktails and re-watching Stranger Things before slinking off to bed by 10pm. It’s cheap, it’s cosy and I can wear my fat pants. No double Jaegerbombs for £20, no sticky dance floors, no penetrating stench of piss and BO, no testosterone-fuelled ‘lads’ thrusting their junk in your personal space. What’s not to love?

Scott Fraser and Joe Hart

But last month I decided to try clubbing again. I don’t quite know what came over me, but I actually (brace yourselves) enjoyed it. I went to Body Hammer’s monthly party in Manor House and I’m here to tell you to go too, whether you love clubbing, hate clubbing, or really couldn’t care either way. #notspon

It wasn’t about seeing the next big headline act or bopping about to the most popular tracks, Body Hammer was about the entire experience. It sounds cheesy but if you go, you’ll know what I mean. Resident DJs Joe Hart and Scott Fraser played all night, spinning house, techno, jack and everything in between. The way they DJ’d felt real personal, real intimate – like they were our private DJs in a house party. It was somewhere near Manor House, just off Green Lanes, in a place called Low Profile Studios. Hundreds of people made their way down Vale Road, passing through a lengthy row of Victorian terraced houses, where we found ourselves somewhere between an MOT garage and a fenced off National Grid site. It was easy to miss if you didn’t know what you were looking for. Yeah, real underground. I’m officially part of the Cool Kids Club now.

Silhouette of two people holding a beer

Rocking up to this raucous queue filtering into a nondescript commercial building, we were pretty excited. We paid our £10, got stamped and headed upstairs, guided by halogen strip lighting. It felt unofficial, like we were trespassing into the staff corridors of a department store. Due to our Deliveroo diets and distaste for physical exertion we were tired by the time we got to the top, which is where we saw silver duct tape stuck to a wall reading ‘PULL’ and pointing to the handle of white door. Not creepy at all. We were enveloped in red and purple, a disco ball reflecting light across the room. Artworks surrounded us on every wall. A headless mannequin on the bar raised a balloon to the ceiling. CRT televisions flickered on and off in the corner. Ahead of us were Joe Hart and Scott Fraser with two turntables and a mixer set up at the front of the dance floor.

We’ll see where the night takes us
Back of persons head with cigarette tucked over ear

We were the first ones to arrive so we headed upstairs to the seating area and waited for the masses to descend. We sat together, cozied up on low-lying armchairs and wooden benches among orange lamps and a free-to-play Street Fighter arcade machine.

It was an interesting mixture of people at Body Hammer that night. Trendy twenty-somethings were dancing with burly middle aged men, artistic types wearing clothes hangers as hats conversed with rude boys in tracksuits and baseball caps. There were a lot of people dressed just like they were going to the pub with mates in shirts, jeans and trainers. It felt inclusive, like anybody was welcome. A hospitable atmosphere even for loners like myself.

Resident DJs Joe Hart and Scott Fraser were fundamental to Body Hammer and it would not have been the same without them. They curated the music for and in response to us, the audience, extending tracks, reducing elements and blowing them up at exactly the right time. They knew how to drive the crowd wild and they knew when the crowd needed to cool down.

Disco ball spinning gif

It was not a thumping, pumping, banger-after-banger six-hour smasher; it was a constantly evolving, adapting and mutating soundscape to our entire night.

Towards the end, when the dance floor was packed and people were absolutely in their element, Joe and Scott spun out a spectacular array of Giorgio Moroder produced and inspired tracks pointedly mixed with Phuture’s ‘Acid Tracks’ and Jesse Saunders’ ‘On and On’. They were plucking out the most influential sounds of Chicago house and seamlessly, subtly, smoothly mixing them with elements of Donna Summer’s ‘I Feel Love’ and ‘The Chase’. They played one track in it’s entirety, extending it with delays, fading it down to melodic elements, then chopping the drum beat back in to a flash of lighting behind the DJ table and a raring applause from the crowd who danced even harder than they did before. The crowd was unified, we were all moving to the same rhythm.

Body Hammer was a club night unlike any I had experienced before. It was a world away from the clubs I used to know. The focus was on the resident DJs, not a star studded line-up. The DJs played a carefully curated soundtrack, not the greatest hits. The audience was a community of electro fans, not an anonymous mass of people. The atmosphere was safe and welcoming, not uncomfortably close or teeming with danger. They have parties pretty much every month and I’m already craving more – Body Hammer is an addiction and I’m fully subsumed.

Join the Facebook group here to find out about their next party. Just don’t tell too many people, yeah?

Images by Michael Barry of The Barefaced Movement and Body Hammer.

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