by Hope Wisechild
The last bank-holiday weekend of the summer is the perfect excuse for a festival blow-out, and there are plenty to choose from. While rock fans set off for Reading or Leeds and tourists flock to Notting Hill, those in the know will be donning their dancing shoes and heading to leafy Clapham Common for London’s increasingly popular South West Four weekender.
About to celebrate its tenth year, this urban gathering of the dance faithful started life as a frenzied London house party and was launched as the SW4 all-dayer in August 2004. Gaining stages and international support along the way, in 2010 it would become a two-day event featuring crossover smash Fatboy Slim alongside DJ superstar regulars. Veteran Carl Cox said of the event: “It’s part of the community and it’s something that London can be proud of.”
Over the past two years it’s made a serious impression on the wider festival scene, winning DJ Magazine’s ‘Best British Festival’ at the 2011 Best of British Awards as headliners Pendulum and Underworld continued to broaden its appeal. Last year it welcomed dubstep trailblazer Skrillex and proudly hosted a 25th-anniversary appearance by hip-hop pioneers Public Enemy. It now regularly draws crowds from not just across the UK but throughout the world.
The tenth event, on Saturday 24th and Sunday 25th August 2013, will feature stages hosted by hugely-respected stalwarts Pete Tong, Carl Cox and John Digweed, while old favourites like Sven Vath and Laurent Garnier join headliners Armin van Buuren and Example on two independently strong bills. “South West Four is the best festival in the UK, ” says Armin van Buuren. “The atmosphere is incredible.”
Originally conceived as a London party, the festival doesn’t offer camping, but does help those from further afield with accommodation tips and discount deals. For those with energy left after Sunday’s mayhem, there’s an after party, South West More, at Electric Brixton, providing a chance to dance into the Bank Holiday Monday in the capable hands of SW4 DJs including Pete Tong and Eric Prydze.
It wouldn’t be a festival without the odd mud-bath, and last year’s Saturday crowds maintained high spirits in the face of stormy skies, creating a great party vibe in the tents or dancing with colourful umbrellas at the main stage. This year, those nice folks at the met office seem to have arranged clear skies for the all-important Saturday night, but if you’ve managed to nab tickets for this predictably sold-out event, don’t forget your waterproofs just in case.
(Thanks to Hibri Marzook for the photos from SW4 2012)