- I vividly remember my first Half Baked. It was four years ago in one of those small but brilliantly shabby tunnels in Shoreditch. It cost £6 to enter and was mostly a residents affair. Nobody can deny the party has changed a lot since, and it's worth reflecting on the journey it's taken over the last few years.
In London, a city where rents have risen steadily and licensing has become even more prohibitive, it's an achievement to be able to celebrate a five-year anniversary. In that time, Half Baked has gone from being little more than a Sunday afternoon warehouse party for East London's super hedonists, to a full-blown brand, encompassing a record label and a restaurant. Plenty cause for celebration, you could say.
In far-away Greenwich, the huge and relatively new Studio 338 was where Half Baked set up camp for their 18-hour birthday party. The usual motifs were present—flamboyant decorations, hyper-enthusiastic regulars, and, of course, that illuminated bicycle attached to the ceiling. Split across two rooms, the extensive lineup encapsulated the sound Half Baked has endorsed over the last five years—simple, honest, groove-heavy club music. Upstairs, two of East London's more talented local selectors, Georgio Oniani and Matteo Manzini, played a smart set just as the venue began filling out.
Populated by palm trees and platforms, the main expanse of Club 338 is best described as Ibiza-esque. Everything funnels onto a wide central dance floor, which, after a forgettable back-to-back set from residents Greg Brockmann and Robin Ordell, dOP dominated in their unique style. Back upstairs in the second room, the prospect of Birdsmakingmachine's live set was too good to resist. Fans of the producer's deeply hypnotic instrumentals weren't left disappointed, as he dropped some of his finest cuts, among them the gorgeously evocative "Rulers of Bohemia."
And there was still so much more to come. Hold Youth (Seuil & Le Loup) captured the essence of the occasion perfectly with their distinctive blend of stripped-back deep house. Though they're practically part of the furniture at Half Baked, their set was anything but pedestrian, highlighting the genuine quality of the operation. But while we could go on all day about the importance of great resident DJs, few can rival the quality of a guest like Zip. Taking over at 2 AM, with the party well into its fifteenth hour, he did what he does best: weave chunks of his formidable record collection into a unique and brilliant narrative.
Photo credit: Here & Now / Larry Jordan