Descending into The Nest there is only darkness, and disco. Red lasers and lights barely cut the gloom, bodies whisper to each other in the club's seated alcoves, or writhe under the barely-clad ladies of 1970s sexploitation film posters on the walls.
All it needs is Blondie doing rails off the bar and trannies offering handjobs in the loo and it could be a time-warp to Studio 54.
Right on cue, 'Ring My Bell' puts smiles on faces, because disco is the order of the day; dubby disco and deep house from three acts who have that sound nailed.
Psychemagik's producer/DJ pair of Danny McLewin and Tom Coveney are perhaps most known for their epic remix of Fleetwood Mac's 'Everywhere', which has been the hands-in-the-air record for right-thinking DJs for years. But aside from their remix and re-edit work, their psychedelic disco sound suffuses their original tracks and the records they play.
The Juan MacLean, noise rocker turned house DJ, scored a couple of hits with 'Give Me Every Little Thing' and 'Happy House' in the '00s and is a well-known stalwart on James Murphy's DFA Records.
The new kid on the block is Medlar of Wolf Music Records, a label for whom 2012 was a vintage year filled with disco-dipped deep house releases with just the right amount of jack to keep the floor rolling.
Medlar builds up the tension with progressively tougher cuts from the Wolf stable, from the slice of summer that is 'The Sun' to the garage snares and hi-hats of 'Can't Stop', bolted onto a great wedge of organ that shuffles and grooves.
Medlar's sound blends the early '90s organ and wobbly basslines that Glenn Underground would approve of, with the crisp swing and swagger of a very up-to-date, UK rhythm where vocal snatches are ruthlessly cut up and played back as stabs.
Playing back to back, Psychemagik bring with them a few of the re-edits they're known for, a rich vein of '70s flavour featuring a touch of James Brown, although Fleetwood Mac doesn't get an outing tonight.
Suddenly the place fills up – boys in shirts and jackets, girls with dreads and noserings, Friday-nighters, all-dayers – everyone's suddenly down the front.
Fortunately the world's most uptight bouncer is here to ensure that nobody leans on the rail, puts their coat or bag down, or attempts to dance on what could generously be called the “stage”. That doesn't stop anyone from trying, however, which leads to a standoff during which no one can hear what the other is saying anyway.
For the last half hour, Tom Coveney roughens up the beats, building up from deep, dubby disco with layers of chattering snares and highhats. They're a fine double-act.
Lean, rangy, cropped-haired, you could imagine that The Juan MacLean would be pretty convincing wielding a guitar. But once installed behind the decks he switches up to heavy New York-inflected house, sweeping between tracks loaded with piano and sax, woven with acid lines and fidgety beats.
Who can guess what demands Hackney's licensing department make or what fear they put into venues that laying your bag at your feet is considered unacceptable, but as long as there's house music like tonight to move to it'll take more than that to ruffle the feathers at this Nest.
Words and photo by Michael Parker
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