Clubbing with a conscience at The Synergy Project
Reported by Adam Symbiosis
Submitted 31-01-07 21:32
“People have been asking if they can pay more to make sure they get in because they’ve come all the way from Germany.” How many clubs can boast that? But then again The Synergy Project isn’t just any club. Fusing music with more worthwhile pursuits, the Project is one of the most diverse promotions on the scene at the moment. And I was about to learn all about it over a few warming coffees in the heart of Camden Lock.
Down in the confines of the SeOne club, The Synergy Project has come into its own, providing clued up clubbers with an experience along with their music. Forget entering a bare room with the loudest music known to man blaring out, Synergy is a multi-room event showcasing the best in today’s electronic music while adding a holistic approach to clubbing. Sitting in front of me is one of the directors, Giani Fabricio and Danielle Ellison, a member of the steering committee, from the Project. “Next year will be our 5th year,” says Danielle.
In fact, I remember some time ago visiting and chilling out to the sounds and sights of Baraka in the cinema room, an experience quite unlike the hot, sweaty parties some other promoters put on. “Some of the main changes that have taken place within Synergy since then is in diversification,” continues Giani, “Starting with the psychedelic scene, we’ve been trying to open up the sounds, moving into different types of electronica. I’m doing a room this month with Glitch and IDSpiral, a more experimental room.”
They’d also like to feature live video performances, with live chat between clubbers and performers, taking interactivity to new heights. Having the five rooms of the party means there’s always a space to invite new collaborations with new sounds into the event. The structure of the Project becomes clear as it’s explained to me in better detail and it instantly seems more organised then most parties will ever be. The two directors, Giani and Dominic Schnelle, are helped by a five person strong steering committee. As Giani explains: “They are almost like a council that we run a lot of our decisions through, which they can veto and this keeps it more balanced. They act in a more advisory way as well so we can ask what they think of ideas, while the rest of the decision making is shared with the rest of the community. We have a group on the internet which members have access to and has a voice. We just want to share with our people and gather their ideas as well as there is such a rich group of diversity.”
Synergy takes its lead from other similar projects such as Warp or Megatripolis and could also be compared to squat projects, for example like the RampART Social Centre in East London. Giani again expands on this for me: “There were various things going on before Synergy, a lot of projects were generally coming out of communities, big squats round London, but they all seemed to fail for one reason or another, lack of structure maybe. There was no hierarchy or mission statement, so there were power struggles, a lack of organisation. The idea for Synergy was to have a club experience that was more fulfilling for the people putting it together and to do it in a way that would have a structure and so Synergy was born. From there the party went on until 2004 in a strictly not for profit way with the resulting money saved up for another charitable project. This resulted in the Synergy Centre, which has now been running for a year and a half in Camberwell, London.”
There were now two different organisations working together as one for the community, but on completely different fields. The Project continued to run as before, while at the Centre,activities were being operated for the community as a whole. Activities for children, classes for adults, workshops, as a charitable foundation through their pool of artists they are able to provide services to people who might not otherwise be able to afford them if the centre hadn’t been set up. “It’s very much a creative hub for artists and a centre for the local community engaging people in projects for everyone.”
In the future, they hope that there can be even more crossover between the two communities with artists and performers moving freely between the Project and the Centre, with productions, workshops and installations benefiting all.
Covering a number of different genres at any one event, you’ll find psy trance as the lead music. With psy starting to infiltrate hard dance, led by DJs such as James Lawson, Technikal and Ashley James, maybe now is a good time to start experiencing the full range of its sounds, as well as everything else that goes on at Project events. “Psy trance is the main dance element and will always be there, but there’s also the live element, the psychedelic chill out with dub or reggae, then world sounds, which brings in a fusion of cultures. We’re also empowering NGOs (Non Governmental Organisations) to do rooms as well.”
Today’s clubber is more switched on to world events, but sometimes the feeling is that with charity muggers on the street, pleading ads on the TV and constant world threats, people can get bogged down in a kind of siege mentality, blocking out the ills and problems of the world. While this might help the individual, the whole remains sick.
This is where the extra events at Synergy come in, providing a platform for important causes that aren’t forced down your throat but still beckon you to investigate in your own time. Previously you’d be able to walk round the club and find a number of stalls from organisations such as Greenpeace or Friends Of The Earth providing information and helping you to understand. Developing on this idea, a whole room can now be taken over by selected organisations.
This month is no different, with representatives from Silk Road Arts, who work via events, workshops and artists to build greater understanding between Muslims and Non-Muslims. Featuring a performance and workshop in Dabka dancing, a demonstration of Mongolia throat singing and a five piece ensemble called Taraweeh playing Sufi music along with readings, chilled beats, visuals and Middle Eastern food and drinks, this could almost be a club all by itself. “We want to move them from just being a stall into being a whole production,” Giani says. “When an NGO comes obviously they want to promote their cause or campaign but by giving them a room, rather then just having an info stall they now have the facility to book artists, have full visual installations and show short films.”
It’s a very holistic approach to clubbing, something that is very rarely seen even in some of the bigger yearly festivals. “Our parties are cross-generational,” Danielle tells me. “People take to it.”
But it doesn’t just stop there, because you’ll also find a series of presentations this month entitled “Night of the Counterculture, Past, Present and Future” featuring talks on 60s counterculture, The Rainbow Family, and the first in a series of sci-fi club radio plays called Megatripolis @ Forever. Across the whole of the club you’ll also find designated large areas clearly marked as non-smoking, a boon to those less inclined for a fag and in some ways getting clubland ready for July 1st. “The trance room is now a non-smoking room along with two other rooms. It’s all about mutual respect. People having an environment like that harbours a certain way of thinking.”
I wondered how it was perceived by the clubbers coming to the event. Danielle observes: “They are very respectful about it. Sometimes someone lights up in the wrong place, but one of the crew will go over and point out the area that they are in. Personally I am a smoker and I actually like it, especially on the dance floor as you can breathe while you are dancing. I’m not sure what will happen when they ban it completely but I really like the balance we have now.”
Until then, they’ll still go with installations that indicate where you can and can’t smoke and stewards that gently move you to the right place, rather than grab you and force you on.
“We’ve had a history of people coming in from all over the UK, not just London. We feel it’s a sort of gathering that gets people interested from all over the place. Everybody who comes finds something different for them in what Synergy represents. A lot of the older crowd may have got bored going to clubs that are just places for music and having a good time; something a young person might find it very exciting at the start but lose interest over time. These people can come and interact in different ways as there are different elements to it. Younger people seem to be attracted by the party, the top-notch production and the installations.”
Is it because there is a growing wave of people on the scene who are more clued up on other situations and world events and want to be exposed to new ideas and experiences? “Yes, there is a growing awareness of the world today. People feel comfortable about going out to party at Synergy but also they feel they are contributing or doing something good. The most important side of the party I think though is those people that don’t know or are not sensitive to these issues, they find a place where you can associate certain values and awareness of certain things with a cool environment, where a younger person can relate them to more than say at the local council or university.”
As Giani tells me more, we talk of a hypothetical young person not interested in being told what to think or do by people in an authoritative position. In the confines of the club the issue or message can be passed over without force and important points can be discussed or taken in. Already they’ve featured themes like climate change, sustainability and others presented in an easily and enjoyably digestible fashion and if that means one extra person starts thinking and telling others then the mission has succeeded. “It’s providing information so if you want to change you can. It’s not about being in people’s faces, you don’t want to be bombarded by images of death and war. We just want to find that balance.”
Throughout my conversation with these vibrant and enthusiastic promoters one word kept reappearing time and time again, something that reflected their modus operandi and the spirit of the party, the community. Through their work with the Centre and indeed the Project, artists and performers, ideas and messages have been brought into the scene and exposed to people that might not have heard it before in the club or in the outside world. London is filled with promoters out for a quick buck, the scene littered with the wasted dreams of clubbers that thought partying till the early hours with all its early promise of togetherness would somehow re-energise their lives and the world. In a little corner of London Bridge someone is fighting back and saying there is a different way, bringing you their message along with the little heard or listened to issues of the day. The Synergy Project is a reminder that we can all do that little bit more to make this world a better place, while celebrating exactly what makes each person so unique and exciting.
Photos courtesy of Francis Medina, photographicon.com and The Synergy Project. Not to be reproduced without permission.
The Synergy Project
Friday 9th February
22:00 - 8:00
Advanced tickets are available for £15 plus booking fee from our website or for £20 on the door, £15 concessions are only available on the door with valid proof
Online tickets are available via the online shop @
www.thesynergyproject.org or also www.accessallareas.org
Order over the phone from +44 (0) 20 7267 8320
Physical Tickets from:
Access All Areas - 2nd Floor, 30c Camden Lock Place, London NW1 8AF 0207 267 832
Psychedelic Dream Temple – Camden Lock
The Synergy Centre – 220 Farmer’s Road Camberwell SE5 0TE
Tel 0207 7931083
Click here to buy tickets
Synergy is a magical indoor festival, combining musicians, Djs, Vjs, performers, and artists from all corners of creativity, joined by various proactive NGO’s and charities with the expressed aim to make a difference.
Synergy strives to create an optimistic approach in raising awareness on the many crucial issues affecting our world today. The events gather some of the UK’s leading creative multimedia organizations supported by international NGO’s such as Oxfam, Survival, Speak, WWF, Greenpeace, Arc, Campaign Against Climate Change and many more.
In a society which generally perceives clubbing as a form of escapism associated with values of transgression, Synergy re-invents the clubbing experience by transforming it into an ‘educational’, awareness raising tool. Although Synergy has a vibrant cross-generational and multi cultural following it aims to target primarily today’s youth with its inspiring message, an audience that might otherwise be reluctant to receive, respect, and incorporate such information, in particular when proposed by conventional sources.
Now in its 3rd year running and with a wealth of experience and depth the Synergy Project continues to inspire people from all walks of life to re-evaluate their views on club culture and beyond…
This new event will host an incredibly varied mix of different elements, from the far eastern cultures to the now and here art of electronica…
In the cream room we proudly present…
Silk Road Arts
We live in an age when unprecedented contact between peoples seems to throw up more borders and suspicion…
The legendary Silk Road is an example of age-long exchanges between peoples – Jew, Muslim, Christian, and Buddhist – from Moorish Spain to Arab peninsula, across Central Asia to China. In their trade they left traces in each other's dance, song, poetry, beliefs.
SILK ROAD ARTS is an initiative to foster greater harmony by offering events, workshops, and artists inspired by the Silk Road.
One of the areas of our mission is to re-introduce Muslim and non-Muslim to a spiritually tolerant expression of Islam and wider view of its arts. Showcasing brilliant, indigenously trained artists and groups, SILK ROAD ARTS brings an ancient power to move and illuminate our rootless three-minute culture.
The room will be hosted in collaboration with Kazum! – Organizers of OrientExpress live music and club nights with a focus on Turkish and Balkan music.
In the Blue Room…
Striving to constantly evolve and explore new horizons, Synergy introduces a new alternative style of chill-out, venturing into contemporary realms of fresh and experimental forms of electronic music. The room will be hosted by collaboration between IDSpiral and Pixel Addicts, supported by Boltfish Recordings to present a cutting edge multi media environment that will take you on a journey through an eclectic mix of IDM, Glitch and Melodic Abstract Electronica
In the Red Room…
United Tribes of Dance
After ‘Spirit Dance’ at Sunrise 2006 comes: ‘At The Speed of Love’
A Sacred Dance space where the Tribes of Dance come together as one, dedicated to personal and planetary transformation.
United Tribe of Dance is a conscious and intentional dance space of the highest quality, dedicated to personal and planetary transformation, and to creating and sharing a sense of the sacred. At its core is the creation of a friendly, open and heart-centred vibe through the alchemical synthesis of the intention, music, lights, décor and people.
In the Grey Room:
The Little Green Planet presents
The little green planet crew has gained their reputation through legendary outdoors parties in magical locations throughout the Uk. This will be the first of two indoor events planed for this year bringing together a storming mix of uplifting Psychedelic Trance artists and a full immersive psychedelic vibe!
Closing the circle the Deep Blue room will feature the immensely popular:
Small World Stage
A musical treat deep from the heart of the venue. A top draw line up of intense, beautiful and inspiring artists from the UK's Alternative Folk and Underground Acoustic scene. Also hosting the Synergy in-house healing temple – a refuge for all troubled souls in need of comfort and support…
To enrich our events even further we also promote
Hurriyya (Live & Workshop)
23:00-00:00 – in the Cream Room hosted by Silk Roads
Hurriyya (‘freedom’) is a ‘dabka’ dance troupe performing Palestinian and Middle-eastern community dances. After a shortened performance Alia Alzougbi will lead a workshop ideally suited to the Synergy gathering. The ‘dabka’ dance is a line step dance often danced at weddings by men and women, young and old alike, from the Arab world to Turkey and Greece, generating great community togetherness. No experience necessary!
Portraiture Workshops hosted by Wendalena
When did you go out clubbing last and ended up sharpening your artistic skills by drawing in a live model class? Wendalena is certainly not your usual club culture performer and with her vibrant charisma she has managed to draw in audiences far larger than the live drawing circle can hold. The classes’ start at 11pm and finish at 3am and take place in the Silk Roads space – don’t miss it – all materials provided!
A series of presentations hosted by Jeff (GoodJeff) Lester will be held in the Small World area (deep blue room) from 10:00 to 01:00
‘Night of the Counterculture, Past, Present, and Future…’
Sue Hall has been involved in the English Counterculture since the sixties. She will present a series of historical photos from the Sixties Counterculture and talk about the influences that led up to it. Sue will tell us what it was like to be at the legendary Alternative Sixties club UFO as well as the legendary sixties 'happening', the 14 hour Technicolour Dream She will then be happy to take questions from the audience. Sue recently gave a well-received talk on LSD in Basel at the 100th birthday of LSD inventor Albert Hoffmann.
Lee Harris, familiar to many as the owner of Britain's legendary 'headshop' on Portobello Road, Alchemy, described himself as a 'foot soldier of the underground'. He will share his vast knowledge of the Sixties Counterculture with us by recounting in his inimitable fashion various scenes and tales from that time. LEE, now an 'Angel Headed hip hop artist' is still very active in the Counterculture and in Jimmy Hendrix's words is 'keeping the freak flag flying high'.
The Rainbow Family the biggest community of Alternative people in the world (anyone can join) and the amazing Rainbow Gatherings have gathered people from the Counter culture together since 1972. Su and several other Family members will recount the history of the Gatherings and talk about the philosophy behind them, taking questions from the audience as well.
Megatripolis @ Forever: first chapter in a series of sci-fi club radio plays by the legendary Counterculture impresario, Fraser Clark, inventor of Megatripolis (at Heaven) and The Warp Experience (SE1). Enter here (at your own risk) for the great time travel experiment. Starring: Kate Alderton, Funmi Olowe, Leigh Kelly, Mitch Davies, Luci Boccino, and Camden Macdonald. Directed by Camden Macdonald.
Host: Jeff (GoodJeff) Lester has been an Alternative Culture activist from the Sixties to the present, both in both in America and Britain. He specializes in creating talks and debates on issues of interest to the Counterculture and Rave Generation. His passion for the Neil Oram's 23 hour theatrical Counterculture opus The Warp led him to bring it to Fraser Clark's club The Warp Experience (SE1) in 1999.
Synergy – inclusive to Smokers and Non-Smokers alike…
As most of you will know Synergy is one of the pioneering clubs that supports the peaceful (and healthy) coexistence of smokers and non-smokers alike. To this effect we are designating large areas that are clearly marked as non-smoking. We have received much support for this attempt – thank you to all who help us achieve this not always easy goal.
Trance. Psy Trance. Deep House. Prog House.
In the cream room: Silk Road Arts
Michael Ormiston (Live)
DJ Seb and DJ Moody
In the Blue Room: Glitch-Out
Vector Lovers (Live)
Infinite Scale (Live)
In the Red Room: United Tribes of Dance
Sean Holland (Live)
Zetan Spore (Live)
The Bee (Kimberley)
In the Grey Room: The Little Green Planet presents ‘Dream World’
In the Deep Blue room: Small World Stage
Hush The Many (Live)
Jamie Woon (Live)
Edwin's Encyclopaedia (Live)
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Other Features By Adam Symbiosis:
Godskitchen Xmas Party: Reviewed
The Big Chill: Reviewed
Tiësto at Victoria Park: Reviewed
Lilly Allen: Reviewed
Digital Society May 2009: Reviewed
The views and opinions expressed in this review are strictly those of the author only for which HarderFaster will not be held responsible or liable.