The arrival of the August bank holiday weekend always sparks extensive excitement across the major cities, towns, villages of the UK. London was brimming with excitement, anticipation and itchy feet, primed to dance; boasting a pot of gold for world-class music events and all-round fun and chaos, especially with Europes biggest street party taking place across this weekendNotting Hill Carnival. 

This bank holiday weekend marked another major party aside from the 50th Notting Hill Carnival the 15th birthday of Secretsundaze, a series of renowned parties, run by the talented, much-loved duo Giles Smith and James Priestley. And boy, did they throw a party to celebrate their career milestone.

hard life x secretsundaze

Giles and James moved to London from Cambridge in 2001, and have been at the heart of the electro-house scene ever since they decided to start throwing parties initially just for their friends. This decision signified the birth of Secretsundaze.

Secretsundaze became an internationally recognized party, studio space and record label that attracts flocks of like-minded music and dancing lovers to events in the UK and Europe. In 2016 so far, Secretsundaze has thrown major parties across Europe including La Terrazza, Barcelona, as part of the Off-Sonar series, Casa Presei Libere Club in Romania, as well as London-based festival Found. The remainder of this year looks set to keep Giles and James busy as Secretsundaze set foot in the Moroccan party scene as well as returning to Panorama Bar, Berlin, ADE, amongst many other planned parties.

Basically, Secretsundaze owners Giles and James are certified pro’s at throwing parties, and their 15th birthday celebrations did not disappoint.


Setting the scene, I’ll start with the popular party venue that held their 15th birthday bonanza; Oval Space, East London, a 10-minute drive from 93 Feet East in Brick Lane – the venue where some of the first Secretsundaze parties were thrown. Unlike so many other bank holiday weekends in London, the weather blessed us with sunny intervals, and upon entering the venue, the roof terrace was flowing with Giles and James on the ones and twos. I found myself vibesing to the wax work of Danny Byrd – Stepping Into Tomorrow whilst eating a kebab bought from the terrace food and drink bar.  

So far so good, a day party at its finest, but as twilight beckoned, it was time to enter the space that gives venue its name. And this was the line-up I was to bare witness to:

From the outset, each of the guest DJ’s produced outstanding 3-hour house-tech sets throughout the evening. Jane played whilst the sun was still shining through the windows, adding to the light that reflects beautifully against the feature glitterball which hangs above the dancers of Oval Space. The smokey, glitterball scenery combined with records such as Teluric – Bright Light made Jane’s set something really special, and a great way to start the night.

hard life x secret sundaze

Photo Credit: Kristopher Adams 

By the time Jane had finished her set, it felt like Oval Space had already reached its capacity. Fully absorbed into Janes set, I was oblivious to the crowds that had herded in, preparing for what was to be an absolute stomper of a set by Prosumer. The atmosphere was intense, at just 8:15pm – the night hadn’t even begun. 

Prosumer was consistent, dropping a series of released and unreleased tracks. The audience moved as one, packing out every inch of Oval Space. A trip to the toilet was no longer an easy ordeal, as I began to prepare for Nick Höppner’s 3-hour extravaganza set.

Cheers and whistles erupted as Nick Höppner stepped up onto the decks. Nick perfectly prepared the dancers for the night ahead with his vast spectrum of musical knowledge and remixes. The German’s percussive and melodic mannerism evolved to deliver and encapsulate the crowd. Here’s one from Nick that sent the crowd popping, ready for Giles and James to hit up the decks!

The finale b2b set was a collaboration of exquisite talent. At a time where many would flag and meander their way to the back of Oval Space contemplating whether to leave or not, after hours in the intense, atmospheric heat was in fact a time which brought the crowd closer together.  

Secretsundaze, we thank you. We thank you for the last 15 years. We thank you for the creative input and support into London’s nightlife, especially in East London, extending into Europe!

Win tickets for the next Secretsundaze party, on sept. 10th at the Pickle Factory:

Words by Dre

Photo Credits: Daniela Fleckenstein