Nina Kraviz is already an hour into her set at Walthamstow Assembly Hall and everything is going well: the music is great, the lights are impressive and there are some Portaloos™ in the smoking area. After two hours of South Western Railways hell, my friend finally arrives. As soon as we get drinks, he points upwards and says, “Have you been to the gallery?” I haven’t. Are you kidding me? Heading up there takes the night to another level: dancing, good. Disco nap, great. But the disco sit? Incredible.
Clubbing often feels unnecessarily uncomfortable, a bit like a charity half-marathon run followed by a raging comedown and Deliveroo, rather than a GoFundMe page flush with messages of encouragement from friends and family. This club will be open all night long with an additional afterparty at a yet undisclosed east London venue? Perfect, I’ll probably leave at 3am, crammed into the back of an Uber pool in tatters like normal.
When the news inevitably comes round of a big-name DJ playing yet another torturously extended Sunwaves set, I rarely think “I really want to be there”, though I respect those steely, pie-eyed Goliaths who can manage them. But take a glimpse at snippets of Marco Carola’s 25-hour set in 2015 on YouTube. Amid the blaring Music On soundtrack, blazing Romanian sun and heaving Carolaphiles, something else made an appearance: the disco sit. Even Terminator-like techno fans need a breather once in a while.
At the risk of becoming the most geriatric 25-year-old ever to write about dance music, a lot of my love for the disco sit stems from my hypermobility syndrome, which, according to the NHS, means “your joints are more flexible than other people’s [which] causes pain.” Rather than becoming a gymnast, I’ve instead developed jammed hips and a gross ability to bend my fingers back further than most people, which doubles as an extremely mediocre party trick.
As a result, the disco sit is a thing of joy, a brief moment of respite that can keep the fire burning just a little longer for fragile losers like myself. Perhaps the biggest joy of the disco sit is actually being able to dance before and after it, to actually conserve energy for moments on the dancefloor without it developing into a tedious slog.
There’s also something about the way you connect differently to the music when you’ve taken 10 minutes on the couch. You feel the vibrations more closely, and as a gap in conversation between you and your mate opens up you just sit there, trance-like, staring absentmindedly at the commotion going on around you.
In London, you’ve got to pick your places for the perfect disco sit. In 2017 in Mixmag, Marcus Barnes decried the lack of chill-out rooms in clubs, which, he explains, “arguably fell foul to the increase in demand for space and higher DJ fees”, and as a result of the smoking ban in 2007, which drove promoters to focus their energies on crafting outdoor smoking areas.
Furthermore, stipulations around a club’s very existence can come into play, and threaten potential disco sit spots. On the Sunday afternoon of Fabric’s 19th birthday, bouncers patrolled the smoking area and barked at seated ravers – who were no doubt trying to reassemble their thoughts, feelings and general existence – to stand up; this was a result of the ‘loitering’ condition attached to Fabric’s license upon re-opening.
As a result, prime disco sit spots are few and far between, but when you find a good one, you’re onto a winner. While not technically a club, Walthamstow Assembly Hall and its formal yet comfortable gallery, is an absolute belter. There, you can soak up the music below from up high, without missing any of the action.
While Fabric’s smoking area occasionally resembles the staging area for an urban evacuation in a particularily bleak dystopian sci-fi, its seating options inside are among the best that the Capital has to offer. From the upstairs bar, you can hear everything taking place in Room 1, in one recent case a stunning running schedule of Sonja Moonear, Ricardo Villalobos b2b Craig Richards, Rhadoo and Apollonia. Its array of comfortable seating options also means that you can explore the labyrinthine club from a comfortable base, a godsend for hypermobile and otherwise overwhelmed ravers alike.
For too long, the ability to have a nice sit-down in a venue and thus properly appreciate a club night has fallen prey to bravado, belting marathon sessions becoming the by-word for an ‘authentic’ night out. As we begin to address mental health in dance music, we can’t neglect the importance that taking five can do for ravers physically (and mentally) going forward. Let’s hear it for the disco sit.
James Ball is Mixmag's Weekend Editor, and he just needs a moment
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