Going out on New Year’s Eve is so *ahem* last year. Try telling #newyearnewyou that as you take another swig from the bottle of bubbles at 12.01 and your friends try and kidnap you into a disco-bound uber. But fair raver, stay strong. if you want to enter the pearly gates of day party heaven, hit the hay early on New Year’s Eve so you can cakey-wakey bright eyed and bushy tailed. Everyone knows New Year’s Day is the only way.
It all begins as you pull up to the gates of the heritage-listed property and you walk through fields of families enjoying picnics in the sunshine. This isn’t going to be your everyday walk in the park. There’s something very naughty about partying it up in the grounds of Werribee Mansion. As your brain cells go further west, running across perfectly manicured lawns, through bushes and trees to flawless, French-named, steam punk/meets treehouse stages becomes increasingly surreal.
Through a gentle and considerate security check – yes, happy new year to you too – we sought shade under trees from the high afternoon sun nursing our first drink, as one brave soul was already belting out her first projectile vom of 2019 in the bushes.
Stomping off to the Palace of Versailles stage, our day kicked off with Melbourne OG bass veteran Kodiak Kid dropping a mint early afternoon sunshine set. He nailed the warm up shift with Fatboy Slim and Chemical Brothers classics, interspersed with a mixed bag of beats and pieces to kick off the day. Drifting off to explore, Motor City Drum Ensemble had begun their 2.5 hour mammoth stint at the Bastille Stage. A steadily amassing throng were dancing through every layer of the spectrum from Detroit booty bounce to disco – in fact lots and lots of disco – while the unforgiving sun baked down like a giant yellow glitterball.
Beyond the trees and over yonder, Pounce DJs took the Bermuda stage somewhere tribal, as dazzled daydreamers climbed into a real ‘crashed’ plane (best stage prop ever) and magic mobiles danced and glittered in the sky. There was a paddling pool with no water, which people were splashing around in regardless. The giant bouncy black inflatable pillows were also a genius idea for chilling out on.
Back at the unofficial homage to bass stage, Bristol badbwoys Kahn and Neek were shelling down the Palace of Versailles with some seriously dark riddims. It was a sight to see 500 people dancing to straight fire dubplates, remixes and VIPs in a such a cucumber sandwich and rose petal tea setting. Cut to the Bastille, where Midland was upping the ante a million away from his iconic ‘Final Credits’ tune. Slamming out some delicious techno and classics (hello Steve Silk Hurley) the place began to explode to a really gutsy, upbeat set, that many singled out as the best of the day.
It was getting harder to decide which stage to be at, but that in itself is a testament to the quality of the event and the acts on show. Crowd wise, it just seemed to flow. Save some inevitable pockets of eeekkk, it never seemed too sardined or crammed in. People have claimed that even day raves are turning into an angry zombie convention come sun down, but this crowd was beaming bright. There was gorgeousness on so many levels; from earthy hippies shimmying to sparkly disco, to silicone sculpted barbies getting nice and dirty to nasty grime. It was a magical melting pot of dancefloor personalities, a veritable Noah’s ark of raves, where everyone seemed to exist in diverse harmony. Props to the organisers for the fantastic layout, where bar and bathroom queues were never too long – and even if you did have to wait you could always stare at the beautiful trees, or the lesser spotted disco birds stalking around the grounds. Also refreshing in both senses of the word to have alternative bevs to crusty warm pre mix cans. I certainly enjoyed a cheeky rhubarb gin and a few Pimms o’clocks… well we were at Werribee Mansion.
King of the after-hours set Nightmares on Wax played his signature eclectica spanning the spectrums of dub, disco and lazy afternoon house, wishing us a merry cosmos and a happy no fear, and possibly a taste of his soon to be released Back to Mine compilation. Could there be a DJ more emblematic of this genre? I don’t think so.
We floated off to sit under the prettiest fairyfloss coloured blossom tree, where we met three real life angels from New Zealand who joined our crew for the remainder day. And that’s what it’s all about. It was so good to attend an event where the crowd was genuinely lovely. Someone handed me a gin and tonic for no reason. Strangers kept telling each other they looked beautiful. You lost and found your mates perfectly through the ebb and flow of the crowd.
For some ridiculous reason it took us all day to find the Guillotine stage. We had to go and investigate at the information tent. They pointed a bee’s dick away to a clearing beyond the trees. This is a testament to our brainpower on the first day of 2019. It was well worth it when we got there. The crowds had all dispersed to a clearing in the trees where the inimitable Peggy Gou was belting out some deliciously heavy tekkers, before dropping her iconic Acid Journey mix of Shakedown, which turned into a massive karaoke sesh. Back at the Bastille, DJ Tennis kissed the last rays of sun goodbye with a stellar set. Thank you Tennis for the Timo Mass remix of Depeche Mode’s ‘Enjoy the Silence,’ a sultry moment of sundown perfection. As darkness veiled, the mansion was lit up with a rainbow of lights (which you can relive in this mid-set video Tennis posted on his Facey).
Come 9pm, the anticipation in the air was so palatable you could taste it. People were literally frothing at the mouth. Or maybe that was just me. Bicep LIVE blew my tiny little mind. Right at the front of the stage with some of my favourite people in the world, choked and blinded by the smoke machine, but still in plain sight of the boys doing their thing, wild this-is-gonna-be-the-best-year-ever-if-this-is-how-it-fucking-starts philosophies turned delirious cartwheels in my mind. Seminal tunes like Glue and Just, were teased out to perfection in flawless symphony. My friend was videoing, waited for the tumultuous drop so long with his phone in the air his arm nearly fell off. And I’d like to give the biggest props to the lovely girl who rolled me the tastiest menthol cigarette I have ever smoked in my life during the break of Just. So many angels. And so many goosebump moments in the perfect finale.
Why were there so many limos in the car park? How did the animals of Werribee Open Range Zoo feel about the bass shaking the foundations of the earth just next door? How the hell did our entire crew miraculously make it back to the minibus and back home together? And the infamous mansion afterparty? Who fucking knows. What is for certain is that we are not giving up sugar for 2019, we’ve still got cake crumbs all over our sticky little faces.
And I still believe this is going to be the best year ever.
Photo credits Duncographic