Buttoned Down Disco is only really comparable to putting frogs in a box with glitter and acid: The result is shiny, mental and something you are going to definitely going to tell your friends about.
Even though the club night celebrated its 13th Birthday in October, I am ashamed to say that I had not heard of Buttoned Down Disco until a couple of years ago, when I attended the beginning and end of summer boat parties. Needless to say, I was addicted from the offset — I mean who wouldn’t be? The combination of banging indie floorfillers, nautically themed fancy dress and a free shot of rum on arrival — who could ask for more? However, It wasn’t until I started attending DJ Dolly Rocker (Christian Laing) at his residency at KOKO in Camden, that the whole Buttoned Down Disco thing really started to make sense.
Built in 1900, the iconic KOKO is the gateway to Camden High Street, retaining its turn-of-the-century charm both inside and out. However, set out over four floors that all overlook the main stage, it is clearly visible from the moment you step inside that this is a huge venue, intended for theatre or live music — not an indie disco. It is therefore a credit to the well established name of both the DJ and the club night that on any month you choose to go (BDD is held on the first Saturday of every month) the night is packed to the rafters with revellers. However, as though the dance floor wasn’t full enough, DJ Dolly Rocker fills the remaining space with huge, human-size helium balloons that bounce among the outstretched hands of the crowd like psychedelic, latex based clouds.
The music, generally described as ‘indie, pop and electro’ is where the ‘box of frogs’ metaphor comes from: it is eclectic to say the least but also incredibly fun and carefree. Visit the Dolly Power website for an extensive — or rather exhaustive — list of every indie artist ever, all of which you can probably expect to hear played at least once but for a condensed introduction, expect anything from Blondie to the XX and everything in between. If indie-pop isn’t your thing, don’t worry the BDD crew have got that covered too. Visit the the top floor (If you think you’ve reached the top, you probably haven’t, just keep going) and check out DJ Antics, playing a selection of hip-hop, R’n’B and breaks and beats. The vibe up there is much more intimate, perfect if you want to get away from the mad, bad happenings of the main three floors. DJ Antics’ set is a small preview of his own nights at KOKO which generally happen on the second Saturday of the month but this is subject to change, so check the website for details.
The crowd is generally a mixed one, Camden is mecca for tourists visiting London which makes up a large percentage of the crowd, although students and loyal followers of the night also make up a big number of the visitors. Regardless, the crowd is fun and purely out for a good night, which is largely dictated by the strict invite-only policy on the door. To gain an invite, all you have to do is sign up on the website, adding you and your friends email address to the list. You should receive an invite back which will give you all of the details you need for the next party — it’s as simple as that! Alternatively, if you are a hardcore fan, a BDD badge will also gain you entry. Get there before 10:30 PM and entry is also free, any later and it’s ten pounds on the door.
Whilst I assume that the outcome of an acid-fuelled, glitter-covered box of frogs would probably be messy — Buttoned Down Disco is definitely good, clean, indie fun, check it out soon.
Buttoned Down Disco is on the first Saturday of every month, doors open at 10 PM, entry is free until 10:30 PM and is £10 thereafter. Invite only — Invites can be found on the website. ∎
(Photos via http://www.buttoneddowndisco.com)