Alfresco Disco turns austere venues into exploratory rave haunts – Features

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Alfresco’s ability to effortlessly sell out parties is a testament to its stature as a Bristol institution and its consistency in throwing exciting and unpredictable raves year after year for nearly two decades.

After creating Bristol’s iconic house party, Buoyancy in 2003, some of Alfresco’s founding members, including Justin Gettings, Tom Hodgson, Luke Turner, Victoria Holden and Frankie Mann, staged their first illegal rave in the summer of 2004 .

“That original rave in 2004 was an unexpected hit,” says Luke Turner. “It was a free party by the river in an industrial part of Bristol and thousands of people came and really enjoyed it – but at the time it had no name.

“We used to have these raves once a year every summer and people started calling them ‘outdoor discos’ – it wasn’t really a name we chose.”

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In 2009, the Alfresco team began hosting legal parties at licensed venues so they could hold events throughout the winter, but they retained many key ingredients from their original unlicensed events. These included releasing location details at the last minute, confidentiality of programming, and using buildings that are not established clubs or venues.

Alfresco’s first licensed party took place in Bristol’s abandoned coroner’s court, with bridges in the judge’s cabin and techno in the basement holding cells. Since then, he’s held raves at dozens of previously unused venues, including an abandoned fetish club, a church, a leisure centre, a stately home, a tunnel and an abandoned Royal Mail building.

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