elrow has rapidly become one of the most recognisable clubbing brands and institutions on the planet since it’s emergence from the Viladecans area in Barcelona. Coupling free spirited parties with the flare of the Spanish fiesta, elrow have captured the world’s attention with their colourful parties at their home of Row14. With the Spanish party starters hitting the the UK through the summer and spring, Josh Plews attempts to scratch the surface on how elrow has emerged from the suburbs of Barcelona to become one of the quintessential parties in the world.
With first sunlight comes first shine for elrow, one of the most exciting and entertaining clubbing outfits that is in existence today. Born in Viladecans, an area just outside of Barcelona, elrow is the epitome of a Spanish fiesta and has perfected its parties through a philosophy that captures the ears, eyes and imaginations of clubbers all over the globe.
elrow has never taken itself too seriously, but that doesn’t mean to say that the music you hear there isn’t some of the best there is. At elrow, a fully immersive experience that stays fresh is what has given it the stellar reputation it deserves. To learn more about the origins of the party, we spoke to Victor De La Serna, elrow’s bookings director, to provide an insight to what defines elrow and how their world dominating tour has been going so far…
“We started buying toys so we could interact with the crowd, throw confetti and just generally be silly and not take things too seriously. The rest as they say is history!”
Row14 is the place where the elrow story began, with the first parties being weekly club nights, which surprisingly didn’t take off. “It originally started as a night club opening weekly on Friday and Saturdays”, says Victor. “It wasn’t very successful and in fact was almost closed down before it was decided to try and have some fun and start doing after parties in the mornings. From there we started buying toys so we could interact with the crowd, throw confetti and just generally be silly and not take things too seriously. The rest as they say is history”.
The Viladecans venue where elrow was incepted is located at the other side of the airport to the city centre of Spain’s clubbing capital, Barcelona. The five-roomed indoor and outdoor space provides enough blank canvas for the promoters at elrow to fully transform the space into an otherworldly environment, the most extravagant and crazy of which can be seen at elrow’s famous Singermorning Festivals. Although these particular elrow parties, which are no holds barred and no expense spared amalgamations of world class music and production, have not yet been seen outside of Row14, elrow has recently taken its ethos on the road to host a number of themed parties all over the world. “We never had a grand plan to take over the world like some sinister bad guy in an Austin Powers movie. Promoters and DJs from around Europe were attending our parties in Barcelona and Ibiza and I guess they liked what they saw, which made them enquire about bringing the craziness that is elrow to their own venues and festivals."
Since departing on their grand tour last year, elrow has brought its flair, energy and of course its home grown residents to venues all over the UK, South America and other parts of Europe, to give those who haven’t had the opportunity to visit Barcelona just yet, a snapshot of what makes their parties so unique. Although some may argue that these tour dates at both clubs and also at festivals are not as impressive as a day at Row14, there are still so many elements of elrow’s special DNA that can be found whilst they are on the road, with each date being curated by a large team who spend an extensive amount of time ensuring the parties are as good as they can be, as Victor explained. “At the events we normally have an event manager, a couple of technicians from Barcelona and some stilt workers from Barcelona also. Then in every city we hire local actors, stilt workers, performers and other workers to set up and work throughout the event, but there’s always a core team of people from Barcelona who have been working with us for a long time.”
The music that has become synonymous with Elrow is high-energy house and techno designed for the dance floor, with momentum usually staying at a peak throughout the entirety of a party. The residents who have provided the club’s soundtrack over the years include De La Swing, George Privatti, Marc Maya, Toni Varga, Mario Miani, Bastian Bux, Baum and Eddy M, all of whom feature together in the programming in Barcelona, with selected residents playing at each international date. Usually the guests will play first, with the residents to follow, demonstrating the important part they play in the Elrow family.
"In every city we hire local actors, stilt workers, performers and other workers to set up and work throughout the event, but there’s always a core team of people from Barcelona who have been working with us for a long time.”
As well as their world-renowned residents, guest artists keep the line ups fresh, with elrow’s choices never disappointing. Over recent years, prior to embarking on the tour, the outfit had entertained performances at Row14 from Luciano, Dubfire, Uner, The Martinez Brothers, Richie Hawtin, Adam Beyer, Ben Sims, Cassy and Chris Liebing, whilst tour dates so far this year have seen the likes of Skream, Eats Everything, Hector, Richy Ahmed, Jackmaster and Patrick Topping amongst a ton of others playing at venues that have been given the elrow treatment.
“When you see people smiling and dancing under a shower of confetti, you realise everyone gets it, no matter where you are… and everyone loves it. That’s very rewarding!”
When it comes to down to the production, this is where the brand really starts to shine. Anyone can put up a couple of banners and the odd balloon, but with elrow, it is taken to an entirely new level. Sure, there will be banners, mobiles and balloons a plenty, but you can also expect to see mermaids, a rolling pin in pursuit of a cockerel, giant mushrooms, sharks, giraffes that tower over you, very weird finger puppet shows and the famous yellow elrow chicken, which has toured the world with them. All of the themes that elrow has taken on over the years, have been the brain child of their creative team who are constantly cooking up a bizarre now adventure to indulge in. “Every idea, as crazy and stupid as it can sound, has the potential of being a great idea. And with us the sky is the limit! We like to make fun out of everything, so one thing you have to have here is a good sense of humour and know how to put that across in everything we do! At the end of the day we are all a family, so we all inspire each other.” The themes on the tour have varied, with a Bollywood theme in Birmingham and a psychedelic trip theme in Antwerp only scratching the surface. As the parties progress, things will continue to be an exiting mix of weird and wonderful. Confetti canons, inflatables, air horns, the list goes on. The best bit, being right in the middle of it all, so be ready for some fancy dress too.
Elrow really is a true relative of the Spanish fiesta and is arguably the closest thing there is to bygone, otherworldly clubs like Studio 54 and Disco 2000 at The Limelight. Not quite because of the style, but the effort the club puts in to creating something special. The ability to replicate this feeling in countless countries around the world is a hardy task, but one the Elrow team pulls off pretty much to a tee. “The thing I personally prefer about festivals is that 90% of them are day-time and Elrow is a party that needs light. You wont see us in small dark clubs, we like the party to be bright, full of light and happiness, so being in a festival gives you that extra that people have when they go to a festival, they are excited, is the summer, day time clubbing…”
“Leave your taboos and preconceptions at the door, elrow is an experience and you need to loose yourself in it.”
elrow 2016 UK club and summer festival appearances...
Saturday 28th May – Bollywood
Circus – Camp & Furnace, Liverpool
Black Coffee, Richy Ahmed b2b Yousef, Jackmaster, De La Swing, Lukas, Darius Syrossian, Nick Curly, Lee Walker, Lewis Boardman & Special Guest TBA
Sunday 29th May – The Trip
The Rainbow Venues, Birmingham
Eats Everything, Detlef, Marc Maya, Toni Varga, Lukas, Tom Shorterz, Arun Verone, Latmun, Lopaski, Reidy
Saturday 11th/12th June – Sabodromo do Brasil
Parklife Festival – Heaton Park, Manchester
Groove Armada, Eats Everything, Joris Voorn, Jackmaster, Andrea Oliva, Skream, Steve Lawler, B.Traits, Waze & Odyssey, Subb-an, Rob James, De La Swing, Toni Varga
Sunday 26th June
Hideout Festival – Zrce Beach, Croatia
Tuskegee (Seth Troxler & The Martinez Brothers), Eats Everything, B.Traits, Catz 'N Dogz, Skream, Waze & Odyssey, Artwork De La Swing, Toni Varga, Marc Maya, Lukas
Friday 15th July – Sabodromo do Brasil
Lovebox Festival – Victoria Park, London
Luciano, Joris Voorn, Richy Ahmed, Steve Lawler, Patrick Topping, B.Traits, Alan Fitzpatrick, De La Swing, Andres Campo, George Privatti
Sunday 31st July - Sold Out
Beach Party at Studio338
Saturday 17th September
Boundary Brighton - East Sussex
Words by Josh Plews
Photos courtesy of elrow