As the massive I Love Nacelle weekend nears, we take a moment to reflect on Cairo's biggest party phenomenon with some of the most familiar faces at the club night. This is Nacelle's story by those who know it best...
Just typing that word results in some strange bio-chemical reaction. Heart beats just a bit faster, feet start tapping a 4 x4 rhythm under the desk, pupils dilate, there’s an involuntary fist pump and… I’m there.
A blur of motion and endorphines swirl around me; five hundred arms, raised in unison, awaiting the tension of a grinding synth to welcome back a mammoth kick from those now infamous Funktion One towers. It hits and madness ensues, partyers climb and reach out to the top of the decks like Orcs climbing the wall in LOTR, there’s a chicken head having an epileptic fit, a couple make out dramatically to my side and the flood lights abruptly blare, blanketing everyone in this illuminous light for a moment that lasts until Sunday morning, when you eagerly await the next Nacelle Friday House Sessions.
It wasn’t always like this though. As my brother, part-time recluse and hipster antagoniser, Adam always likes to mention, he went to Nacelle before it was ‘cool’. “Whilst you were all partying it up at a Black party, I went to the Parov Stelar night; there were people in sandals, revolutionists before there was a revolution, that kind of thing,” he reminisces with a grin. “And it was one of the most fun parties I had ever been to.” That was one of Nacelle’s first organised parties, atop the Shephard hotel, back when drinking 250 LE glasses of 7UP and BBMing on the corner table was the only way we knew to have fun. A lot has changed since in the country and Nacelle has reflected that change. You could romanticise it and call it a form of pseudo-proletarian escapism from the socio-economic turmoil that ensued; a result of the collective apathy towards our countries woes. Or, simply, a new generation of inter-connected music savvy kids, rising from the ashes of the last generation, casting off the shackles of their parents' more traditional conditioning. But anthropology and psychology aside - at the end of the day, the people behind Nacelle just know how to throw a kick-ass party.
Whether it’s their funky B-Side weekday staple, beach parties, Disco nights, or the phenomenon that are the House Sessions, the sound is usually immaculate, the crowd and team unpretentious, warm and always up for a laugh, and with their bookings, Nacelle were the first among many pretenders to bring in some of the world’s best in dance music (talking talent not fame), that would turn an Indie-Rock loving boy like myself into a recreational raver.
The annual ‘I ♥ Nacelle’ weekend kicks off April 4th with Aly Goede and Catz ‘n Dogz coming in from Berlin followed by a sun-in-your-face-life-is-awesome-dance-till-sunset party at the Maxim Boat the next day with Nickodemus, Safi, Tito and The Percussion Show live jamming. Ahead of the festivities we caught up with five Nacelle regulars who have been through it all to find out exactly, why you love Nacelle…
Do you remember your first Nacelle and how has it changed since?
Ahmed Hani: Yes, it was 3 years ago and I think I was put under a spell ever since by the vibe, I can say it was more intimate and laid back back then.
Silvia Semeria: My first Nacelle was in Yasso three years ago. The crowd's become bigger, that’s the most obvious change.
Mohammed Shaarawy: I can say one thing that has been changing in Nacelle… the venue. Other than that those people had one thing in their minds, MUSIC. Tito played it very smartly. He got us used to his very unique selection of music in Cairo Jazz Club and since then we’ve been following him around. I remember those days at Rithmo, Yasso, and Opium. The crowd was getting bigger every weekend and it’s still getting bigger now at the Pharaoh boat.
Amy Bilek: I met Tito right after he moved back to Cairo and overheard many discussions about how this party business would play out while sitting with the guys. First there were Rotations - held in Melouk and Rithmo and then came Nacelle at Stiletto. If I remember correctly - I was one of the first to host a now famous Friday Nacelle after-party in my tiny living room. A friend of mine wanted to hook up with a girl he just met so he invited everyone back to my place and I picked up more friends I ran into at the time. I guess what has changed is that at that time the party scene was broadening. There was more of an appetite from a more diverse crowd after January 2011. So you had new parties popping up that were tailored to more groups of Cairenes who wanted to go out and drink. It wasn't just the crowd who preferred Ganzoury's or Banna's parties. It was people who didn't need to be seen with their hair done or in the season's latest mini dress. These people just wanted a venue with fresh music - and a laid back atmosphere where they felt more comfortable dancing than standing at their table sizing everyone up. Now the scene is just that - we all go out to dance, listen to brand new tracks and have a laugh with the faces we've become familiar with week after week.
Karim El Sherbini: I can’t recall the date or the act, all I know is that it was in Stilletto and that I loved it! At that point the crowd was a bit different, they were mainly foreigners and few people were into the music. Now everyone is going to Nacelle and it became more about the music than anything else. The acts keeps getting better and the level of talent of the local DJs is ever increasing.
Favourite act to have played so far and why?
Ahmed Hani: Well they are two. Daniel Bortz and Elijah Collins. Those acts were flawless. The buildup was amazing and it was taking me on a musical trip with smooth ups and downs keeping me in the same musical highness, it was like they are giving me a break and KAPOW taking me higher again, not to mention the vibe and energy of the crowd.
Silvia Semeria: My favourite act was probably when Rayko first played at B-Side, I don’t know why that night was my best, I guess it was the energy in the place which made everyone want to dance and have a good time.
Mohammed Shaarawy: When Tito and Aly Geode join together, for that’s the best local combo. As far as I remember smash TV where crazy. Daniel Bortz, Adriatique and Francesca Lombardo too, of course.
Amy Bilek: I really liked Chopstick & JonJon - the first time, Noir, Genius of Time and most recently Francesca Lombardo. It's all about how the DJs react to Cairo and the crowd. I appreciate a DJ who is happy to be with us and is showing it. I am also a little bit of a critic with the music selection so if they bring all they've got to the decks and are having fun - not playing it safe - I'm satisfied.
Karim El Sherbini:Hot Since 82 definitely. The vibe was perfect and everything was going just great. The music was awesome, he played an amazing set and it ended with the sunrise so it was pretty amazing. Also there was this incredible harmony, it was the closing of the perfect season and everyone just came for one reason... PARTY!
Weirdest thing you've ever seen at Nacelle?
Ahmed Hani: The weirdest thing I have ever seen actually happened to me. Whilst Francesca Lombardo was playing someone threw up all over me. I mean what are the fucking chances?! Thank God there were no solids but still, fucking Ewwww!
Silvia Semeria: Perhaps people dancing with masks on? But that’s pretty standard these days.
Mohammed Shaarawy: Overall at Nacelle nothing is weird because all people accept each other there. As I told you, the main reason to go there is music not show off or any of that crap that you see somewhere else.
Amy Bilek: A girl's thong ended up on the floor a couple weeks ago. Ask Aly B about that, he's the one that found it! And we have photo evidence.
Karim El Sherbini:It was actually quite a memorable experience. I walk into the bathroom and find Hossam soaked in some drunk guy's puke! He's covered from head to toe. He hadn't even the slightest clue who this guy was, he basically stood in front of him and puked all over him! Honestly, I couldn't help but burst out laughing! I went to my car and got him a clean t-shirt, luckily I had one quiet similar to his so we were able to go on with the night but he smelled like shit hahaha!
Do you have any special rituals or preparations before going to Nacelle House Sessions?
Ahmed Hani: My rituals are very simple. Play some music to warm myself up with a few beers and maybe dancing in front of the mirror haha.
Silvia Semeria: No, no rituals, I just make sure my bloody girl/boy ratio is right.
Mohammed Shaarawy: Of course. I prepare my boots I clean them. I get my tshirt ironed and I wear as many rings as I like. That’s what makes me comfortable.
Amy Bilek: My Nacelle ritual belongs to my company at Nacelle parties. I usually hang out at the table next to the booth with the original crew - or what's left of them - and usually pre-party with the same group every week. It's 'our time' together.
Karim El Sherbini:Well I always power nap for three hours in the afternoon because it's always a long night then invite a few friends over to pre-drink. It's a good way to start the night.
Have you ever found love at Nacelle?
Ahmed Hani: Nah… Not really. Just feeling the love and the warmth of the staff and the people I got to meet there.
Silvia Semeria: I've found awesome fun people.
Mohammed Shaarawy: I asked my girlfriend to be my girl in Nacelle.
Amy Bilek: Of course. I met hundreds of people I have in some way or another fallen in love with. In the more traditional sense - no.
Karim El Sherbini: Hmm, Nacelle is where I met some of the coolest people ever, the friends I made there are by far my favourite. We were a bunch of random strangers to each other, some were nothing more than casual acquaintances but somehow we grew to be a huge group (people call us "the Nacelle family"). We've become inseparable ever since and I personally grew extremely fond of each and every one of them.
What do you think makes Nacelle so special?
Ahmed Hani: Well. It is a combination of many factors, from the moment I’m at the door I find the staff themselves with a big smile on their face and warm greetings (not any Hulky Bulky dude with a list in his hands), the concentration on music and purely the music, few lounges and a huge dance floor to get your socks knocked down. I feel Nacelle peeps are really interested in improving themselves and they are always asking for feedback. I believe that Nacelle became more like a family and it really shows more at the B-side nights.
Silvia Semeria: I think the reason why I like this place is because it broke the monotony of Cairo's nightlife. It gave an alternative to the usual fancy dress up parties in terms of crowd and music. I'm not belittling the latter or saying it's less worthy of the clubbing scene, Nacelle just started catering for people who were looking for something different that wasn't offered back then and found people were open to change.
Mohammed Shaarawy: In the past years I met so many people that I really love and are really interesting. I don’t think I would meet that many in only one place. I think that’s why I love it and what makes it special to me; I like being around fun interesting people, all that. I think even Nacelle founders and the people that work there are amazing, from the entrance to the stage, the bar tenders, the sound engineers. Everyone.
Amy Bilek: It's special because of the people who attend each and every week and also because of the guys - Tito and Hisham. I think Tito had a very unique and fresh vision when he came back from Canada. He wanted to create a space where music, style and freedom wasn't compromised and like-minded Egyptians had a place to come, dance and let loose - and we all needed that desperately!
Karim El Sherbini: After all this time I can no longer tell if its Nacelle in itself or if it’s my experience with Nacelle. Nacelle is undoubtedly an awesome place to be and hands down the best clubbing experience available in Cairo but to me it’s a lot more than just that. It is my ultimate outing every week, I anticipate it and impatiently wait to hear who's playing next and what new things they're planning. It is also the one single place where I see all my friends at once and where we have the most fun all together and dance all night carelessly. I have to say that the nacelle group themselves have become great friends of mine and I very much enjoy their company! They are a beautiful group of people and they make the nacelle experience that much more enjoyable! After a while, you really feel like you belong there.
P.S. If you Tweet or Instagram your favourite Nacelle moments to @Nacelle_ with the hashtag #ilovenacelleweekend you could win free passes or gifts from the bar at the party!