Behind The Event: Essence Of Chi

© Chelone Wolf Photography
Hello Keira from Essence of Chi! Let’s start from the beginning; how did it all start?

Essence of Chi started in 2004, I guess you could say at a real high point during the surge of soulful or ‘liquid’ drum n Bass. After attending the likes of Swerve, Movement, Metalheadz & Traffic – Chelone (MC LowQui) & I decided we wanted to do our own night with our own spin on it. We walked randomly into Plan B (now Phonox) in Brixton, and after much consideration – decided that was THE venue for us.

Where did you get the name Essence Of Chi from?

I came up with the name Essence, Chelone (LowQui) had already done a couple of parties with the name ‘Chi’ – we combined the two coz it’s all about the balance baby!

What did you want to achieve with EOC?

We really wanted to achieve something that included all the elements that we felt were key in putting on a regular party. Many of the line ups we felt at the time were focused too much one one particular style or label. Sure we embraced the lighter side of dnb, but also with a darker edge. Sound was a massive thing as well, we were fed up of shabby sound systems and promoters putting up with it – so if we didn’t like what was in a venue, we always tried to bring in our own (big up Funktion One and Ninebar every time!). We also loved making sure our brand and artwork stood out- and put a lot of thought into flyer design…I guess that’s the original raver coming out!

We started off very small, like 100-200 capacity midweek – mainly Plan B, before moving to Herbal a couple of years later. Things really took off for us after our first birthday- we sold our Scala (alongside London Zu- Sabre’s jam who we also worked very closely with). Moondance chose to have us regularly hosting their dnb arena and it all sort of escalated from therefore. Before we knew it we were being booked at venues outside London, going to Spain for Inno in the Sun, and doing much bigger events on more regular basis.

What else have you been doing within the dnb/raving scene?

EOC took a break about 2011, life and other commitments took over (mortgage, family etc !) but I was also quite heavily involved in Kane FM which is a community radio station based in Guildford where I live. I ran the events team there for about three years, but it was voluntary so kind of took the pressure off.

What has been the toughest in running your own night and what have you learnt along the way?

Definitely the financial risk. Putting on a night is effectively like putting your money on a horse once a month. You can do all the groundwork, promote this one as hard as the next one, and it still might not come in. But the toughest thing is keeping a smile on your face and not wearing your heart on your sleeve! You want the crowd to know it’s been a good one even if you know you’re gonna be eating 9p noodles for the rest of the month!

What is the BEST thing with running your own night?

Seeing the crowd going nuts on the dance floor at your own jam- after all the blood, sweat and tears that’s what makes it. In the words of MC Ken Mac “there ain’t no party if we don’t have you!”…it’s true!

I’ve seen you around on raves so I assume you’re a raver. How has the raving scene changed since you started going out?

I’ve been going raving for well over 20 years and yes it has definitely changed! The scene has diversified hugely, although the nights themselves have got smaller. There are far more festivals etc springing up in the summer. The internet has had a massive influence- we didn’t used to find out the name if a tune for about two years after hearing it on dubplate- now you can have that info in the palm of your hand, as well as messaging your favourite dj on FB or twitter- they used to be like untouchable Demi Gods haha!

Best rave you’ve ever been to?

I guess everyone always remembers their first rave – which for me was Dreamscape 15 v 16 at the Sanctuary, back in 1994. A friend I had met on holiday who lived in Milton Keynes convinced me to go. I had no idea what I was letting myself in for or what I was doing – but let’s just say it changed my life! I still listen to the DJ Randall set from it today and the tape pack takes pride of place on my bookshelf! I’m an English teacher by day so it sits well in amongst all the Charles Dickens and Jane Austen novels haha!

Dream line up?

I may sound biased but the Moondance Festival line up this year comes pretty close to my dream line up- honestly! Some of my personal heroes: Bukem, Rap, Randall, Mr C, Shades of Rhythm all on the main stage, plus the EOC crew repping in the D&B tent- it’s pretty much a dream come true.

We’ve seen lots of clubs closing down lately and it seems to be harder to find good venues, what do you think is going to happen with the raving/club scene?

You say that but new ones seem to be popping up and opening all the time. All day events and festivals seem to be becoming more widespread too- which means bigger crowds- which is a bit like what it was like back in the day.

The next event is on the 6th August August; what can you tell us about that and what can we expect from it?

Well, after having had about a 6 year break we are absolutely delighted to be working with Moondance again. We’re hosting the D&B stage alongside Son of Dance – who cater for the more upfront end of the spectrum. It is definitely the most diverse line up we’ve ever done. We’ve definitely gone for DJs that reflect our soulful vibe but can also smash a dance floor namely Storm, Total Science, Kane, Zero T & Al – interspersed with the likes of DJ Guv and Shadow Demon – it’s going to be interesting for sure! But we’ve made sure there’s a logical flow to the line up as well. We are of course absolutely gutted that Marcus Intalex is no longer with us, as he was originally planned to play- and is a influence on why EOC began. But he’ll be there in spirit for sure with Storm doing a tribute set and as far as I’m concerned the whole stage is going to be dedicated to him.

What’s next for Essence Of Chi?

I’m hoping EOC will be making a return in some shape or form in the near future- we have some venues in mind.

Any famous last words?

Watch this space!

Thank you Keira and see you on the 6th August! get your ticket to Moondance Festival where you’ll find Essence If Chi & Son Of Dance which will represent the full spectrum of drum&bass, HERE and find the full line up HERE

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