THE NIGHT WHERE IMAGINATIONS KNOW NO BOUNDARIES
FEED YOUR IMAGINARIUM
London is a place redolent with kink and imagination. Perhaps more than any other major city in the world, England’s capital is a thriving, happy place for sexual liberation and individuality. Even the nation’s recent sexist, prejudicial porn laws can’t hamper the fact that London’s multicolored underbelly has a lot in store for the creative, deviant nightlifer who goes seeking. And Imaginarium is definitely one of the places to investigate.
One of the freshest but fastest-rising underground club nights on the adult circuit, Imaginarium marries the lascivious liberation of fetish nights with the euphoric, all-as-one spirit and hard-hitting music of warehouse parties, subsequently earning it the billing of a ‘fetish rave’.
The club was founded in 2011 by art-squat artists and fellow DJs Lynch the Hangman and Rob Voodoo, the latter describing himself as a specialist in spinning ‘euphoric filth’. It was the duo’s aim to fuse the alt rave and fetish scenes with “the truly excellent DJing of the old skool variety.” So Imaginarium was born.
“There was nowhere we could listen to the calibre of DJs we wanted to, while wearing the clothes we wanted to and with an inclusive, positive, tolerant atmosphere,” explains Voodoo, an oft-futuristically-dressed revealer with a trademark Mohawk that changes colors more times then a chameleon. “I ran squat-art community ‘491 Gallery’ for more than 10 years, putting on hundred of events there – I honed my decks skills in pub shows, squat parties and bars, and eventually ended up regularly playing venues such as Crucifix Lane, Area, Hidden, and Coliseum. Most of which no longer exist but were huge clubs in their time.”
Lynch the Hangman, a DJ of 17 years, reveals similar aims behind the club’s effervescent inception. “I was involved in the fetish scene, the alt scene, the free party scene, the festival scene, and the London club scene,” he says. “I was looking for that place that had it all. I was fed up of the segregation of the subcultures and simply wanted to be in a place where all were welcome, to express their selves however they wanted and not be judged.”
Style, as well as the pounding music, is certainly at the forefront of Imaginarium’s unique, often sci-fi, occasionally macabre, aesthetic. To enter into one of its nights is to be besieged by truly extravagantly-dressed (or underdressed) individuals, who provide a befitting front to the club’s elaborate backdrop. Each Imaginarium party (or ‘episode’ as it’s termed by its owners) runs with its own unique theme. Themes thus far include ‘Contagion’ (body horror), Pirates, ‘Alien Safari’, ‘To Hell And Back’ (zombies), and ‘Planet Of The Rising Sun’ (all things Japanese). In addition to the inevitable heaving dance floor, increasingly high production values and mesmeric dancers, there is also a fully-equipped dungeon area, allowing for the more salaciously kinky to explore their desires – consensually of course.
“I think the ‘Carnival’ night was particularly memorable in terms both of depravity and sartorial excess,” recalls Voodoo, “spontaneous simulated sex on the stage, an insane buzz in the air and so many enormous feathered headdresses that we were worried that the RSPB might get the wrong end of the stick and start campaigning outside!”
The next night, happening at Islington’s Electro-werkz on Saturday 14 March, will be PUNK. For this rebellious episode, the story is being touted as ‘an intergalactic punk conference on an abandoned foundry planet’. Here the four main tribes of punk are termed ‘Classic’, ‘Steam’, ‘Cyber’ and ‘Bio’ with there being a huge array of minor tribes and individualists. A kind of punk through the ages if you will, past, present and future… The marketing material says “Your PUNK” and “punk is a state of mind”.
Voodoo can’t wait. “I think I’m most excited about the costumes,” he says with relish. “We’ve been excited about PUNK for months before we announced it! We’ve always known it would be a theme that would really excite our audience and give them a chance to get crazy with the crafting – throwing it open to all the different flavors of punk within our sci-fi-serial narrative and really the only limit is peoples imagination!”
Adds Hangman: “Punk is an attitude, a state of mind, and is so much more than just music. We all have a little punk in us and we felt it was time to celebrate – with our own take on it of course. Punk was something that began as very British but has now extended to all kinds of subcultures. Punk is still alive and well and growing all the time in many different forms.”
And so too does Imaginarium continue to grow. While other fetish-friendly nights seem to be falling by the wayside, often a result in the dwindling availability of welcoming venues (Vauxhall’s Coliseum was one of the latest high-profile closures, and for whom Imaginarium was able to throw its farewell party in March ’14), Imaginarium continues to look to the future. PUNK, for example, will be staged at Islington’s much-loved Electro-werkz, renowned as the home of iconic Goth night Slimelight and a key hub for the alternative clubbing circuit in London.
“Everything has evolved from the beginning – the performances, the music, the outfits, the decor, and even the show as a whole has become its own beast,” says Lynch, proudly. “Myself and Voodoo have learned a lot over the years and we take great pleasure in giving people what they need on a night.”
Voodoo has a final message for newcomers tinkering with the idea of popping their Imaginarium cherries: get your butts down to PUNK and unleash your dark-sides in rebellious style. “Newcomers can expect what is hands down the most welcoming crowd on the London alternative scene,” he promises. “We also have incredible DJ sets from across a wide range of styles, international ‘dark circus’ performers, beautiful walkabout and stage dancers and a chance to wear the most outrageous creations your imagination can devise! What more could you possibly want?”