When I first decided to attend Rumpus I had absolutely no idea what to expect. Their website held promises of bands with names like Sam the Womp, Penny Black Remedy and Perhaps Contraption, and attractions like the Rubbish Sideshow Circus and Jungle is Massive. Upon further investigation nothing became any less obscure; phrases like ‘art rave’, ‘secret garden meets Shangri La’, and ‘psychedelic tea party’ were thrown around, but that didn’t really clue me in (although it definitely excited me). Well now I’ve been, and I can see why it was so difficult to find a concrete definition of Rumpus.
I’ll start with the theme. “Dia de Los Muertos” – Day of the Dead. It’s a Mexican holiday dedicated to celebrating the dead. Upon googling it I found a lot of decorative skeletons.
Upon arrival I saw that others had taken it to new extremes. There were all kinds of skeletons walking around, devils, zombies, men in masks, women in catsuits, unnameable creatures, glowing things, bleeding things, and lots of things with tails! This could have been in part due to the stall that provided one with animal tails and backcombed hair should one’s appearance be lacking such adornments.
It was like stepping into a parallel universe. The traditional rules by which society governs its behaviour went out the window. Everyone was there to unashamedly celebrate art and music and (cheesy though it sounds) the freedom to be whoever the hell they wanted to be. I heard rumours of art and acrobats though never managed to see them myself, because with six rooms and endless corridors I was forever lost in the depths of the Islington Metal Works. But in the best possible way: I had no intention of being found.
There was a ball pool, about which I heard glamourous tales of “footsie with strangers under a blanket of bass and darkness”. There were chilli chocolate cupcakes, which were as hot as they sounded. There were entire rooms of people swaying to the beat as high-energy music pulsated through the air. Sam and the Womp turned out to be an excellent Balkan Gypsy Electro band (a genre that until that night I hadn’t even heard of but now I shall never forget). The deejays were brilliant, especially Osh J, whose audience Tavi Hirst, at Rumpus celebrating her birthday, described as “dozens of dead creatures wriggling to dubstep ska.”
I still have no idea what exactly went on that Friday night, but I do know this: if you like music, art, dance, self-expression or even just a jolly good knees-up, watch out for Rumpus Volume 7, because judging by Vol. 6 it will be a phenomenal experience you aren’t likely to forget in a hurry!