Applying something as bourgeoisie and mainstream as a “review” to an event as consciously subversive as Szentek seems to undermine some kind of unwritten rule in the history of underground dance music. But needs must when the devil calls, and I’m never one to turn down a chance to pen a piece of journalism which I am definitely not qualified to write.
What is Szentek?
Now in its third year in St Andrews, Szentek is a night of electronic music and art which bills itself as an “intimate arts experience”. The intimacy is what makes the event truly special. In this town of grandeur and ostentatious frippery, the organisers somehow aimed to turn the cavernous barn of the Kinkell Byre into an intrinsically personal space – and it worked! Even the main dance floor (packed for most of the night) was framed by smaller areas such as a makeshift cinema projecting psychedelic shapes onto a large sheet which conjured up the feel of a small club rather than a large event venue. Art pieces on display, often made of junk, created individual points of beauty which gave the space real character. Perhaps, for this reason, I found myself spending more of my time by the two smaller stages than on the largest one.
Room 2 had a great atmosphere all night, with a small rest area nearby offering a place of refuge for those who needed it. Chaos in the CBD, in particular, had a great set which did not disappoint. The genius idea to have a stage outside by the entrance gave a unique and fantastic space for dancing, drinking and conversations to spill out to, and on this surprisingly mild November night it was full the whole night. The familiar St Andrews presence of Wax Collective here for part of the night was a great addition to some of the professional acts going on inside.
Logistically, the event seemed to go smoothly, with regular shuttle buses (not available for all events at Kinkell) efficient in keeping the flows of crowds moving. The decorations were aesthetically pleasing, and queues at the two bars were never too long. I didn’t make it to the food stall, but it seemed to do brisk trade, and I heard no complaints about the coat check.
All in all, the event achieved exactly what it set out to do: provide an alternative to the humdrum of normal St Andrews balls and parties. The nature of the music and the clientele meant that normal classism and gender roles were, if not eradicated, then at least minimised. The main thing that I loved was the amount of unfamiliar faces I saw around me. This can only indicate to me that this was a space where people who are maybe less fussed about whether they got a ticket to a black-tie event could come out – and shine.