Over the past few years the idea of ‘going for Brunch’ has evolved into something much greater than a bunch of bougies sitting around for poached eggs and avocado on toast. ‘Brunch’ in the capital is now an experience, and thanks to Hip-Hop LDN it has become an immersive musical experience wrapped in whole lot of nostalgia, food and cocktails right up until 5pm. Having successfully created themed brunch events around influential musical eras, Hip-Hop LDN are the curators behind Hip-Hop Brunch, Disco Brunch, 90s Brunch, and Garage Brunch. Garage Brunch celebrated its 1st birthday last weekend, so I decided to dust off my gun fingers and get ready for some mid-day euphoria.
So picture this…It is 11.50am on a Saturday morning and I am standing in line outside Café de Paris in tourist-heaving Piccadilly Circus waiting for the doors to open for Garage Brunch. If the team behind this got one thing right it’s sticking me in a time machine to literally the same location and long queue I found myself in 15 years ago to hear and see the same artists from a movement that shaped so many of my experiences as a youth in the late 90s early 00s. Ok two things were different — it was a lot earlier in the day and 15 years on I didn’t need my fake ID.
12pm doors open and a swamp of ravers and bubblers head to the bar to commence one hour of free bottomless rum cocktails. We had DJ Policy on the mic keeping the crowd hyped up and DJ Lonyo on the decks spinning anthem after anthem. My feet were moving to classic garage remixes like ‘Love Shy’, ‘The Boy is Mine’, ‘Favourite Girl’, ‘Do you really like it’ and ‘Garage girls’.
At 1pm we were instructed to head to our allocated seating as the main course was being served. A generous portion of fried chicken and chips was served to most of the room, sadly the option for vegans differed to what was listed on the printed menu and was not as enticing or flavoursome. Maybe a kitchen malfunction as I am certain that previous events did have a much better vegan option especially judging from what was written on the menu. However the main course coincided with a game of Garage bingo so our minds were too engaged to worry about our stomachs! The Garage Bingo kept us on the edge of our seats, as we patiently listened for each number with the hope of winning a bottle of prosecco. If you attend in a small group, it is also a great way to break the ice with others sitting on the table, which was definitely the case with us.
I accidentally (believe me!) signed myself up as a contestant for Garage mastermind. To have a whole room of people engaged in Garage trivia was a testament to the amount of die-hard UKG fans that were in the club, shouting the answers and getting involved. Whilst I only got 4 correct (in my defence I lost to DJ Charlesy) it was a really fun addition to the brunch.
The Garage Brunch 1st birthday was only going to get bigger, throughout the afternoon we were treated to a massive line up of live PA’s including MC Creed, Swiss, Sticky and Wookie. The whole experience was different to any brunch I had previously endured, the organisers did a great job at decorating the venue with posters of our favourite legendary Garage icons, and with a dress code encouraging people to dress like the era I saw the return of big hoops, leopard print, Burberry patterned clothing and Reebok classics. I was taken back… Garage was such an influential genre, from the style of emceeing, the DJ’s and the dance moves; the Garage era had a major impact on UK youth culture in the 90s to the point where every other guy happened to be an emcee or a DJ. The stage presence of a Garage emcee has always dictated the situation on the dancefloor, from chanting to skank-offs – DJ Policy definitely kept the crowd hyped as they yelled out “Oi Oi Oi’.
Garage brunch is a reminiscent daytime rave, the first brunch I have been to where I really wasn’t there for the food. The crowd-pleasing bangers, Garage legends in the house and audience participation added to the feel-good factor of the whole day. If it is your birthday you are made to feel extra special as you are summoned to the stage for shot of tequila with all the other birthday party-goers. I noticed the large groups who attended for a birthday, hen or stag –this is a really good way to celebrate any occasion in a space filled with fellow Garage heads who also lived through the era. Whilst the 90s is currently trending (according to the outrageous price of an Ellesse t-shirt now) I can assure you Garage brunch is for the old-skool massive.
A Saturday well spent, Garage brunch is a great way to start your day or end it depending on how much you decide to ‘turn up’. I certainly spent the rest of my Saturday replaying old-skool Garage anthems and practising my moves for the next ‘skank-off’.
Happy 1st Birthday Garage Brunch. We are lovin’ it lovin’ it lovin’ it… Next stop – Hip Hop Brunch!
To grab your tickets for the next Garage Brunch visit www.garagebrunch.com