Eskimo Dance: the Return – review

Proud2, London

Half a decade may have passed since the last edition of the grime rave Eskimo Dance, the former hub of the scene, but inside Proud2 it felt as though the selection of DJs and MCs assembled by Wiley had turned the clock back. A "greatest hits of grime" DJ set courtesy of Logan Sama set the scene for a night that had the distinct air of a school reunion: familiar faces on stage; the crowd exploding at the first notes of anthems from Kano's P's & Q's to Jammer's Murkle Man.

If the evening was only about the grime scene reaching its nostalgia stage, that would be worrying: as a driver of music, nostalgia is usually a worthless sentiment. This wasn't the case: Eskimo Dance's successful return is testament to grime's sense of community. That is evident among the performers – the sight of 20 MCs battling for their turn, frantically rattling out their bars before passing the mic on, is still electrifying, the ostensible anarchy belying a tightly regimented nature. It's also present in the crowd: the atmosphere is jubilatory and wholly good-natured, contrary to the stereotypes that grime raves have been saddled with. The return of Eskimo Dance is not an attempt at a revival – it picks up where it left off, with the pent-up energy on both stage and dancefloor illustrative of a scene denied outlets for too long.

It's also a reminder that the music was always worthy of the hype: from the imperious authority of Riko Dan to the irresistibly ridiculous human sound-effect machine Flirta D, tonight's MCs are in fine form.

Crucially, too, as well as celebrating the scene's past, Eskimo Dance 2012 also points to its future, from the steely brilliance of JME's new 96 Fuckries single to Marcus Nasty connecting the dots between grime and UK funky.


Alex Macpherson

The GuardianTramp

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