The word is “dodgy”, and it smacks you like a punch in the face as you enter ‘The Rio’, a dilapidated building that has been abandoned for over thirty years. The creaky, cobwebby grill gates provide the perfect entrance to a horror house, aptly manned by the crypt keeper. A short walk in brings you to an unsteady bridge which could give way any minute, all the while fearing the possibility of a rat or two running across.
So who’d want to party here?
Pretty much all of the Colombo ravers – a group that’s growing ridiculously fast and whose party habits are increasingly outrageous.
Apparently partying at beaches and houses got a little boring and, perhaps even too mainstream for our non-conformist party lot and they needed something out of the ordinary. For those starved of something ‘out of the box,’ the remedy came in the form of The Pettah Interchange.
So, we have a dodgy location (the older lot may even say ‘seedy’) and bunch of party maniacs on the lookout for something different. Say hello to underground raving. Though this is the 3rd party of its kind, none have been of this magnitude or engaged as many people willing to embrace even the ‘dodgier’ version of raving.
It was like reading a novel where you could decide which direction to steer your story. If you chose to brave the bridge and proceed towards the Hotel side of the Rio, you would find rooms illuminated with the sinister glow of fluorescent lights, which ultimately led to the open air arena where the DJ had cozily nestled himself into a corner to drop some groovy, funky tunes. A little further down was an empty pool which had the patronage of those who wanted to just chill, or were the main source of income of the bar that had been cleverly placed there.
I know I had your attention when I said ‘bar in an empty pool’ (I may have gotten some of your attention at ‘bar’).
On the other hand, if you chose to flip to another page to guide your story, you would make your way to the cinema side of the Rio which, though enclosed, seemed just as spacious. A cinema of questionable hygiene by day transformed to an ideal underground party destination by night, seemed to be the place which screamed everything that underground partying was about.
Starting with the music- the low ghostly tones that set the initial somber mood which gradually escalated to carnage within hours seemed to bear the essence of this type of raving.
A massive pedestal adorned the stage to place the source of the party- the DJ- at the helm of his territory, backed by the massive cinema screen used to display some trippy visuals, which had been mellowed down compared to the graphic visuals of the past parties.
The expanse of an empty cinema was the party animal’s playground as they reveled in the increasingly dangerous tunes spun by Om Mega and Turmspringer the highlights of the night, while local legends Asvajit and Shiyam stole the show towards the end.
If their mission was to incite interest in all types of partying, ones that transcend the norm and embrace the extraordinary, ones which merge music from Karachi to Berlin, ones which test the waters for the scope and spectrum of this kind of partying, then it was a stark raving success.
With each element neatly complementing the other, the efforts of the Border Movement in collaboration with the Goethe Institute made the vision a reality. Resurrecting the iconic Rio to a newfound sense of purpose, Jan Schöning De Saram and Co. had outdone themselves in this unique venture which burst with absurd novelty.
My sympathies to those who missed it. To those who made it, even though there was reluctance towards underground raving before,it’s evident why this one has been hailed as the rave of the summer.
(Photos courtesy of the Bordermovement event page)