You know that feeling when a really good system hits you? The rumble in your stomach, the vibrations at your feet, the crystal-clear clarity of the sounds permeating your eardrums? Well, we thought we knew that feeling too. We thought we knew it all too well. But that was before we’d been to The Block in Tel Aviv.
Shifting through the crowd, trying to find that sweet spot that every dancefloor has, minutes before Derrick May’s headline set one Thursday night, we suddenly get just what everyone’s been telling us about since we arrived in Tel Aviv a day ago. With one record to go before May’s set begins, the resident DJ reaches into his bag and pulls out a well-worn classic. Putting the needle on ‘The Robots’ by Kraftwerk, he not only gives a knowing nod to one of the key influences May and the Belleville Three drew on when setting the blueprint for techno almost 30 years ago, he also gives us a rare insight into how damn mind-bogglingly futuristic and out of this world the record must have sounded when it first dropped in 1978.
If the sound in The Block is unusually good – even when compared with some of the world’s best and most famous clubs – it is far from a happy accident. Initially opened in its original and much smaller home back in 2008, the whole point of The Block was, and still is, an exercise in trying to build the perfect soundsystem.
“The problem I had with clubs in town was the sound was horrible,” explains founder and one-time local resident DJ Yaron Trax. “I felt like I was losing my love for the music.”
He was so dismayed with the standard of the average club system in his native Tel Aviv that after endless hours spent on internet forums immersed in the subject, Trax headed to New York to meet with David Mancuso and other luminaries of the city’s 70s and 80s party scene to find out just what had made the sonics at those parties so special. When he returned to Tel Aviv he went to every decent club in the city and suggested they could work together on improving their systems – and was laughed out of the room every time.
“They all said, ‘Are you crazy? Why would we invest so much money in sound?’” he explains. “They thought no-one cared, and that’s when I knew I had to start my own club.”