SZENTEK 2018: Reviewed

I remember a laughing crowd, celebration and delirious youth. Then came the hugs; the warmth of human contact in the Scottish winter. A quote from the moon landing was proudly displayed on a banner turning into a photo wall. Everyone was dressed like they were from the 1980s. “Boom, Boom, Boom” – welcome to Szentek.

Once again, Kinkell Byre was transformed into an immersive musical and artistic installation, inviting guests to wander from one mood to another. Szentek created a sensory overload experience: from the bright music to the loud lights, I felt like I just dissolved into the crowd. The main stage was a rave, with cardboard piled to look like Pink Floyd’s wall, splashes of neon, and everyone dancing: this year’s committee outdid itself yet again, welcoming big house names such as Kornél Kovács and Chaos in the CBD to our little seaside town. They were certainly a hit with dancers, weaving their way through the rooms in an intoxicated chain.

The second room was darker with lampions floating from afar. The third atmosphere hosted the local DJs Wax Collective, who were brilliant. There was a sense of relative anonymity, with couples intertwined under loud deep house, giving off a darker and more intimate feel compared to large gatherings such as Christmas Ball. There was also a back room with some projections, the perfect place to sit down after almost three hours of dancing.

There was something poetic and almost calming in the idea of being able to dance again and again, meeting friends after friends, and trying to make sense of the many artworks spread around. The most eye-catching ones were the infamous Hillary and Donald kiss, the fluorescent phantoms floating in the smoke, and a portrait shaped like a Rubik’s cube with a simple question on top: “How do you feel?”

Szentek managed with brio to provide great music and an almost psychedelic immersive experience where one can escape reality. Still, there is a bittersweet irony in the commercialisation of the uncommercial; the underground spirit of an underground rave is by essence anti-conformist, where pictures are not allowed, the drinks are cheap and entrance is almost free, clashing with flashes of iPhones trying to make a social statement about their edginess. However, there is something to be said in that all proceeds went to charity, and that the event offered a much-needed alternative to the often dull music scene of St Andrews. Owl Eyes looks forward to seeing how it evolves in the coming years.

Photos by Channing Cook for Szentek.