The chaotic evacuation of Bloc 2012 last summer touched many. However, many remain in the dark about the factors causing the festival's premature closure. In light of Bloc's recent return to London to a specially licensed East London venue last month, we sat down with Bloc's George Hull to hear the full story and more about the new series...
The Bloc 2012 catastrophe has been widely documented, speculated to high heaven by bloggers, journalists and hordes of self-appointed pundits on Twitter, but the concrete reasons for the event's failure — which resulted in mass evacuation before 11pm on the festival's first day — are a mystery to many.
The day the holding company for the festival's location, London Pleasure Gardens, filed for liquidation a month later, a candid interview (published on djmag.com) with a booker associated with the site revealed launch delays contributed to Bloc's demise, while constricted funding brought about LGP's eventual closure. Meanwhile, festival ticketholders left out of pocket by the premature closure rued the event's failure, unsure of where blame might lie.
Until now, DJ Mag is yet to hear an explanation directly from the event makers' mouths. With the event making a brave return to the city with a series of events at a specially licensed East London venue on Saturday 9th March with Model 500, however, eyes are back on Bloc, some questioning the decision to rear its disgraced head amid lingering negativity. In the face of suggestions that the toxic brand should be left alone completely, Bloc's George Hull has other ideas.
“It's not a brand, it's our name,” he says. “We've been putting on parties as Bloc since we were teenagers. We're not industry types with other business interests and various brand concepts to dip in and out of — I genuinely wouldn't know how to appear in public as anything else. At the risk of sounding pretentious, we don't really see Bloc as a brand as such — it's our whole lives, it's what we do and we don't feel ashamed for wanting to carry on with that just as it is.”
The turnout at the launch of the new Bloc London series with Model 500 this March went to prove big support is still there. Three excellent events at Butlins Minehead obviously still count for a lot, London's dedicated dance heads keeping the faith in one of the UK's most on-point booking forces despite last year's debacle. So what went wrong?
“I'll be frank. We were let down by the venue we had hired for the festival (London Pleasure Gardens) in the most brutal way imaginable and despite our best efforts, the chaos which ensued made it impossible for us to deliver the festival,” explains George. “We were kept completely in the dark about the delays to their build schedule and only at the last minute were we presented with the reality of the missing infrastructure on the site. As it turned out, the issues were insurmountable and our efforts were in vain, but no one had anticipated that.”
After reimbursing tickets bought with a debit/credit card through the Chargeback scheme — “if you came from certain countries outside of the UK, then this method wasn't available, which is gutting,” adds George — Bloc dusted itself off and threw itself to the wolves, announcing a 10-part series featuring the likes of Cosmin TRG, Green Velvet and Shackleton in a 500-capacity studio space in Hackney Wick. “We've booked a lot of acts who have given performances at Bloc that kind of went on to define the festival,” adds George. “There is a heavy focus on underground electro and techno. Since Bloc started, a lot has changed in dance music. We're just going back to our own roots and showcasing the music which got us here in the first place."
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