Step into the whitewashed, labyrinthine corridors of Factory Studios and the bitter Bristol winter instantly dissolves from thought, blown from the brain by the wall of rich sound resonating in the air at Shapes’s first offering for the new year. After being daubed with silver glitter in the cloakroom queue, my masked companion and I meander our way through the buzzing network of rooms and make our way to a small but perfectly formed space at the back of the studios, aptly named ‘The Lodge’. I say aptly because the atmosphere inside is throbbing with the feverish heat of an après-ski spot nestled just on the edge of an alpine cliff. The kind of secluded party place one might only access via ski-lift and secret code after being tipped off by a local Frenchman over a glass of wine the night before.
We join the fun just in time to catch the beginning of Mike Gill’s set, which thumps through the air like the kind of ‘Starwaves’ that provided the title for one of Gill’s stand out track choices, by Kirk Degiorgio. The deep, driving baselines of the record set the tone for the evening and provided the perfect underscore to the shimmering projection of snowy slopes and powder-carving, off-piste boarders at the back of the room.
Sufficiently warm and limbered up, we headed to the cavernous, white warehouse room that played host to the evening’s headline acts. Snaking our way through a sea of masked faces we stopped to discuss how many had been sourced or, in the case of the more fashion-forward, had been made. A memorable masquerade encounter included a guy called Barry whose balaclava and bowler hat combo, complete with fully functioning light bulb, paid a vague homage to Leigh Bowery and the club kids of the early nineties.
Moving into the main room was like slipping into a moonlit swimming pool with a hot and exotic lover on a balmy, Summer night. The sounds spiralling off the decks of Brazilian born DJ Anna were exotic and erotic to say the least. Her two-hour set incorporated hot, popping basslines and euphoric melodies that effortlessly transported the crowd a few hundred miles south of the equator to her hometown, Sao Paulo.
With her crowd sweaty, smiling and happy, Anna handed the reins to Dubspeeka who sent proceedings pumping nicely through till 4am when Fuzzbuzz took over for the closing set. Lost In A Moment was a beautiful choice of track as 5am approached. A delicious, tech-house number, laced through with those throbbing, exotic sounds and over-scored with a vivid, futuristic synth pattern that oozed across the beat like some iridescent alcohol one might find in a basement bar of Blade Runner.
As the Masquerade came to an ecstatic close and a set of wild and weary revellers tumbled out into the wet, icy twilight of a February dawn. The trans-continental heat that had throbbed through the corridors sent them sweaty, warm and steaming into a parade of awaiting taxis. We’d been glittered up and sent on a journey from the Alps to Sao Paulo and back again, swept up on the jet stream of hot, techno shapes. I for one was still lost in a moment as my ears reverberated with the beat of Fuzzbuzz’s beautiful closing track. A brilliant and beautiful evening.