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Earlier this month Somerset House Studios‘ annual access all areas party returned in style, showcasing some of the best creative talent the city has to offer in one of its most historic buildings. Blending DJs, art installations and live performances with rare access to off-limits areas, the night proved to be a great success bridging the gap between those that appreciate the arts and those who make it.
Upon arriving at the huge venue, it quickly became clear why the event is one of London’s biggest house parties. Free to meander through the hallways over three floors at your own will, the evening had a great sense of flow to it and steadily transformed from informal art gathering to all-out rave as the drinks continued to flow and people began to find their feet within the maze-like corridors.
Maps were adequately dotted about the place showing what was on and where to find it but it seemed the majority of guests were more intrigued by the prospect of drifting about, uncovering the magic within each room on their own accord. Across the evening, Somerset House’s ground floor hosted an array of installations and movement-based works including a late opening of SERAFINE1369’s time-deconstructing We can no longer deny ourselves exhibition, which housed a slowly evolving durational dance piece from multi-disciplinary artist Rowdy SS.
Happening just once a year, AGM showcases the work of Somerset House Studios’ resident artists and allows people to see the building like never before. Performances over the evening took place in an old rifle room, snooker room, basement, balcony and many more spaces that are usually out of bounds for the public. The “access all areas” feel to the night made it inviting to take in the sights and absorb the atmosphere of the building without ever feeling as if you were being rushed along. People were free to sit down, socialise and drink where they liked and despite not every room being open to the public, the event never felt restricted.
After descending into the lower levels of the building, where attendees gathered in the mid-basement to watch Sin Wai Kin’s experimental Somerset House Studios’ film commission The Story Cycle, the corridors naturally led into the outside courtyard where the party really took shape. Towering above the crowd of people, a DJ booth sat in an illuminated, centuries old archway backing onto the Thames, where a number of selectors orchestrated the dance floor over the course of the night.
Kicking off proceedings with a DJ set from Black Artist Database co-founder and South East London electronic music powerhouse NIKS, the decks then made way for Angolan-born, Manchester-based DJ Nazar, whose politically-charged, experimental music centres around his personal experiences with war in his home country.
Legendary Chicago producer and selector RP BOO headed up the basement stage with his frenzied, high-power dance anthems. Commonly cited as the inventor of the footwork genre, a frenetic, fast-paced kind of house music, the DJ got everyone moving with his infectious energy and transformed the courtyard into one massive rave.
After the outside performances came to an end, the crowd naturally funnelled into the building’s snooker room, which despite being made party-proof to maintain the integrity of the tables, managed to keep most of its interesting charm. This is where the event reached its liveliest thanks to the team of MCs and DJs keeping the party alive with their nods to Sound System culture and lively blends of dub, reggae, dancehall and jungle.
Overall, AGM 2022 provided a rare opportunity to explore and let loose in one of London’s main creative hubs, immersing yourself in a night of art, music and culture within the walls where the studios’ artists-in-residence make their work.
Check out more shots from the night below: