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Clubbing in the Castle

Szentek Moving Castle Reviewed

Amidst the unusual April gloom, Szentek’s Moving Castle event on Saturday, 6 April provided a glimpse into summer days of day drinking, music and fun to come. Held in Dundee’s Mains Castle, the event took advantage of historic local architecture with a playful Monty Python theme, house music, face painting, and a host of other eclectic activities. Described by the collective as a “sonic journey”, which invites its attendees to explore “24 hours of music within an 8-hour constraint” through its various stages, Moving Castle provided a diverse insight into the electronic scene.

It wouldn’t be surprising if there were some nerves in the days preceding the event from the Szentek committee - after all, the weather’s cruel influence has forced the cancellation of other fixtures this month. Seeing miserable kids touring the town this weekend with drenched guides in red gowns has certainly been a difficult watch. However, upon boarding the bus to Dundee in the early afternoon, the first glimpse of sunlight in days signalled good fortune for the party ahead. Meanwhile, as the coach rolled through the fields of Fife, a soundtrack of heavy dance music accompanied the pastoral scene. The club-level volume the humble bus’s speakers could project was unexpectedly impressive (next Szentek venue?), and this certainly set the tone for what was to come. 

One virtue of Szentek, setting it apart from many other events with minimal or ‘sleek’ decor is its use of art. What was almost an obstacle course, consisting of tunnels of decorated sheets and CDs swinging from trees, was a unique challenge. Szentek sees this perhaps as part of the immersion representatives of the organisations, explaining, “It brings us joy to see you interact with our upcycled Mediaeval handmade artwork.” All in all, the art gave the event a quirky, edgy feel, a particular highlight being Kafka-esque giant beetles looming in the eaves of the outdoor tent. Other installations, however, such as the painted bidet nestled in a corner required more of an intellectual stretch to appreciate its creativity.

There were, as in previous years, three main stages, each of which was host to a different style of dance music. Ranging from live jazz outside to intense beats inside the castle itself, Szentek provided a variety of soundscapes. In the committee's words, these ranged “from [the] colourful, nature-inspired and joyful sounds of the dome to the experimental, punchy and hypnotic beats of the inside stage.” The latter’s bass vibrations were so powerful that it felt as though the castle could crumble. Showcasing the talents of performers from the top-billed TAAHLIAH to lesser-known acts, the collective’s choice of musicians was excellent. Szentek described the selection process as very thorough, “bring[ing attendees] the most unique up-and-coming acts from the UK and overseas.” Fitting a music festival-level lineup into one day in a pokey castle is certainly commendable.

Other excitements included psychics, advertised in classic Szentek fashion as appearing “when the time is right”, face painting, arts and crafts, and tooth gems. If there were ever an event which exemplified the uniqueness of St Andrews’ alternative culture, it would be Moving Castle. 

As the first bus returning to St Andrews was scheduled as late as 19:30, those needing to leave early were thrown back from this mediaeval idyll into the reality of Dundee’s dual carriageway system, with a slightly convoluted one-hour commute home. Given the relative remoteness of the venue, an earlier bus option would have been opportune. Despite, the distance, the [venue] was a refreshing change from Falside Mill and Kinkell Byre and the event served as the perfect opportunity to celebrate the end of classes and the beginning of spring. On the bus home, after such an unusual day, it felt like waking up from a dream of a Moving Castle. 

Photo: Alex Barnard

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