Since the monumental return of Eskimo Dance, it has been a real whirlwind of a ride. This year alone, we've sold out a regional tour, graced the stage of Red Bull's Culture Clash whilst making our festival debut at Bestival in the UK and across the rivers at Germany's Splash event. As a core member of the team, I'm usually rushed off of my feet, wiping the sweat off my brow before, during, and after shows; I usually take the next day to reflect on the goings-on, trailing through footage, pics, and general fan feedback. This time, though, I felt such a rush that it got my senses tingling with the need to write about why this may have been our best Eskimo to date.
As a true grime member (yes, we're like a cult), it's been beautiful to watch the growth of our scene, our sound, and some of our key players. However, it's also resulted in less-educated ones throwing the word around like a trend—using it to describe any UK artist—and it actually really pisses me off. In turn, that has made our team effort to keep grime authentic and alive even stronger. As most of the world knows by now, east London is the birthplace of grime; most of the scene's events tend to be in the East End vicinity. Boxpark in Shoreditch has become a spot where we all have meetings, lunch, and just generally hang out. So when we heard that they were building a spot in Croydon to host events, we didn't think twice to accept the offer to host their grand opening.
Seeing how so many south London acts are getting recognition for their talent, as a south Londoner myself, it was a goal of mine to make sure this show was one to remember. We sold out two weeks prior to the event. The gas levels were rising as we drew closer to the day and I was so excited about it that I invited my mum, who I later lost in the mosh-pit as she became further intoxicated. On arrival, the space was almost daunting—it is absolutely huge in there. The team gathered as we set up, opened doors and let the first few DJs spin to get the crowd warmed up.
As MistaJam hit the decks, the crowd were at their peak, bubbling to the classics before the place turned into a zoo when he ended with "Are You Really From The Endz?" by Endz Productions. Sian Anderson started off the MC sets, giving us a dose of 140bmp rawness with Merky Ace and Big Zuu shelling it down, followed by the ever-energetic duo of Elf Kid and Blakie who jumped into the crowd. "To see so many people who love grime come together to create multiple mosh-pits right on my doorstep was beautiful," says Sian. "The Boxpark venue is flawless as well; really well thought out."
Jammer, Mez, Prez T, P Money and Solo 45 all equally shelled the stage, but when the dynamic Rude Kid and Ghetts entered the ring, it was something out of this universe. Ghetts told the crowd that "grime lives in my body" and he exploded into his wealthy catalogue which proves why he is still, and will always be, Top 3 Selected. "Eskimo Dance is stage-show-don central," Ghetts told me after his performance. As the night continued, we promised special guests and, of course, we always deliver. As it was in Croydon, we thought Section Boyz were a perfect fit, and it was a literal Lock Arff situation when they hit the stage. "It was sick to perform in the ends on a secret guest one," says Inch Section. "This needs to be done more often."
As if that wasn't enough, and with Wiley stuck in Cyprus, we decided to up the bar just a bit more and brought out none other than Jme to close out the show. Grime fans know just how much Jme has scaled down his appearances, so it was an honour to have him bless us with his presence. What made this the best Eski Dance so far? Overall, the intensity of the day proved just how alive and kicking the genre is right now. With such a diverse crowd, and energy to burst pipes and shatter mirrors, it's clear to see that grime is the true sound of the British Isles. Here's what went down in pictures, courtesy of Jordan Curtis Hughes.