A great time had by allTurf Halloween all-nighter Facebook page

For many second-year Cantabs, their relationship with their college children largely extends beyond a seldom-used Facebook group chat and a share bag of Maltesters in the pidge in week five. For the brave few, there may be a tepid conversation about how first year is going over an overpriced Fitzbillies. For me, it felt important to start as I mean to go on with my (part-time DJ) son at that classic Cambridge institution: the Turf All-Nighter.

For me, it felt important to start as I mean to go on with my (part-time DJ) son at that classic Cambridge institution: the Turf All-Nighter

Topping the bill this term at The Junction was Berghain resident Fred P, whose deep, minimalist techno felt refreshingly at odds with Turf’s 2017/18 roster, the bulk of which was made up of lo-fi house selectors. Turf’s event page boasted “reinforced soundsystems”, and, given the nature of the material played, they certainly delivered. Perhaps even too much so; a minor complaint came via the acoustics of the main room, which, at the start of the night, verged on discomfort. At times, what should have been a progressive mix of contemplative underground dance music felt more like the skull-penetrating grind of a dentist’s drill. Equally, having watched several of Fred P’s previous sets on YouTube (including an uncompromising deep house set in Mixmag’s Lab), some of the selection left a little to be desired. It felt at times pedestrian and unchallenging, almost as if the music were an afterthought to the party rather than its raison d’être. On the whole, however, Fred P delivered a generally solid set which kept the Junction crowd going downstairs.

The real highlight of the night for me was upstairs, in the venue’s sweat-drenched loft, where Cairo-based selector Dina took up the reins from 2.30am. Invited to go back-to-back with dance music’s current golden boy Mall Grab on his Rinse FM show over the summer, you may not have heard of her, but her Turf set was the latest in a string of successes for the Jordanian-born spinner. The term “eclectic” used in reference to dance music feels perhaps a little hackneyed and trite by now – I am a firm believer that all the best DJs are inherently eclectic by nature – but Dina delivered a pacey set of house, techno and disco that proved popular with the crowd without veering into ‘safe’ territory. From barnstorming disco house (Soulsearcher’s ‘Can’t Get Enough’) to modern classics (Brame and Hamo’s seemingly perennial ‘Roy Keane’), there was a palpable shift in mood upstairs in Junction, reaching its crescendo with a carefully timed curveball in the form of Kylie Minogue’s ‘Can’t Get You Out of My Head.’ Divergent, perhaps, to Dina’s production output – but monstrously effective.

Dina delivered a pacey set of house, techno and disco that proved popular with the crowd

The main draw for many, however, came in the form of 2017 Mixmag breakthrough Saoirse, who traded headline slots at Bristol’s fabled Motion and Manchester’s Warehouse Project for a drizzly one-night-only in Cambridge Retail Park. Whilst largely sticking to fluid and hypnotic techno, Saoirse showed more ambition in deviating into other genres than Fred P, all without losing sight of the restless programming which has seen her grace lineups alongside Ben UFO and Midland. She cut her teeth on harder house records and this showed, with an increased BPM and flashes of breakbeat classics like SL2’s ‘DJ’s Take Control.’ It wasn’t remarkable, and at times it seemed like a battle to maintain the attention of a waning 5 a.m. crowd, but it was good, solid dance music – the order of the night at Turf’s Junction dates.


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As we sank into our six o’clock Uber, I did feel in some ways it was mission accomplished on the ‘college child’ front. Cambridge is not a cradle of electronic music unlike many university towns in the United Kingdom, but with the Turf All-Nighter, it has a damn good crack at the whip

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