Raw grime music and surreal visual experience? Try Eskimo Dance.
ESKIMO DANCE is, without a doubt, one of the most famous UK underground events that lay the foundations of early 2000s grime, aiming to bring all the scene members under one roof to create unforgettable music and visual experience.
Re-established in 2012, the event regularly takes place in both England and the Netherlands as a part of a three-day Amsterdam tour. This year, I visited the special Halloween show in Croydon, South London, kicking off the fresh new rave season after the two previous cancelled instalments.
Boxpark Croydon, a massive hall with a total capacity of 2,000 guests, hosted this year’s autumn show. The venue looked quite prepared for an event of such magnitude with single stage, enormous dance floor and open-wide balconies as well as bars and food stalls. The inner modern look got transitioned into a mysterious, yet fascinating lair reminiscing Halloween in every corner. Striking flashlights played a massive role in terms of the overall design.
Before I entered Boxpark, I had noticed the catchy “EAT. DRINK. PLAY.” logo, which I kept on seeing everywhere hanging all over the place. Some super scary animations were projected on the stage – unbelievably detailed and scarily realistic, grabbing my attention throughout the whole night. Nevertheless, the visual effects could not empower the performances and distract me from what was coming.
Starting early in the afternoon, Eskimo prepared a bustling line-up that saw many infamous and newly emerging artists performing. Due to strictly observed 45-minute sets, MCs performed together at once, dynamically changing the mic in short intervals.
This pattern worked very well as the audience, especially true grime enthusiasts, could witness many great performances, ranging from old school MCs such as Riko Dan, Discarda and Flowdan to relatively new-coming artists like sbk, Duppy and more. On the other hand, the variety of artists might have disappointed those who expected longer sets from their favourites.
Jay Knox and Logan Sama kicked off the event alongside Tommy B, Mez and Yizzy, followed by the notorious DJ and producer Sir Spyro who supported names such as Footsie, Sharky Major and Flowdan, Discarda and others. Sian Anderson – DJ and presenter for BBC1xtra, also joined the rappers with her selection of the best grime & drill music.
Following Anderson’s set, the well-known Heartless Crew brought their infamous UK garage sound that eventually awaken the rest of the “sleepy” randomly-standing-in-the-corner visitors and helped them get into the right mood. At that point, the atmosphere was mad crazy, however, the best was yet to come.
Just before the clock turned 10, Rude Kid had started off his set. This well-known DJ and producer supported the headliner. Ghetts, dressed in white with a matching ski mask and angel wings, accompanied the DJ shortly after. Supported by applause, this East London artist unleashed a total hell of a night. The dancefloor was so overcrowded that one could barely move around without eventually getting lost in a mosh pit. At that point, the real show began.
Surrounded by screaming fans who dressed in all sorts of crazy Halloween costumes, I experienced one of the most emotional moments ever. It is hard to explain how intense, deliberating and passionate this was. I believe people around might have felt the same.
Suddenly, Ghetts dropped his wings and fully opened himself to the crowd. He began with some of his older records, however, the rapper also devoted his forty-five minutes of fame to his latest project ‘Conflict of Interest’ that was released in early 2021.
Ghetts had set the bar super high as part of the audience left after his show. The grand finale, however, was yet ahead. Spyro got back behind the DJ booth after playing his familiar “Sounds of the Sir” tag. Then, the Norf Face arrived.
Frisco, Capo Lee, Shorty and the infamous JME – I am talking about a collab that true grime lovers simply could not miss. Capo was the only one I saw performing back in Prague, supporting Smack One who considers himself the first grime MC in the Czech Republic. So you can imagine how gassed I was to see the rest of these legends performing. And the result?
Fans got what they had been waiting for – a brilliant show full of first-class performances, unique flows and hits such as Red Card, Way Back, and Man Don’t Care.
Eskimo Dance traditionally celebrated the immortal grime culture; the event certainly did not disappoint but rather reconfirmed its importance in the music industry. Such shows bring about a true euphoric excitement. I hope you grime heads who have not yet visited this event will soon find your way to Eskimo. The pure feelings and raw grime that this event served me are worth experiencing!