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DADult Life | July 22, 2019

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I went to a day party without a baby in sight – here’s how I got on at Garage Brunch

Garage Brunch review

When you’re out out, is there anything better than day drinking? There’s something so liberating about starting when the clock still says AM, even if it’s 11.59am, and continuing the consumption until the sun goes down, whether that’s at the airport for an early flight, Christmas when the concept of time goes out the window or otherwise. And as the saying goes – it’s 12pm somewhere. Plus, you get to avoid all the other drunks that come out in the evening because you’ll already be fuelled up and heading home with a kebab as they’re only just going out.

Course, my opportunity to knock a few back, especially during the day, is a rarity now and I’m sure other parents can relate. So when the Garage Brunch team got in touch to see if I was interested in reviewing one of their events, I said “It’s time for action” quicker than you can say “Boom boom boom selection.” It was timed especially well because my boy Neil is now almost three months into fatherhood himself, so it’s safe to say that he was keen.

But let’s re-rewind for a second. What is Garage Brunch? Remember the Pure Garage CDs? Basically, it’s a live event filled with tracks from those gems but complete with drinks, two-course meal and a whole lot of people in the mood for nostalgia. The event is from the same family as the award-winning Hip Hop Brunch, so it’s safe to say the organisers have got the formula on lock.

Booked in for Saturday 16th February, it turns out the brunch venue was Dingwalls in Camden – you don’t find out until the week of the event y’see, which was a strong way to build buzz in the run-up. Only 50 minutes by the train from home, I got dropped at the station by Jenna and waved the girls off. Admittedly it felt odd to have the nappy and snack-filled backpack I’m usually lugging when out with Roma replaced by a carrier bag containing cans of Kopparberg to crack open at 10.45am. But it was also familiar and a wave of remembrance crashed over me as I relived the usual practice I employed when heading out to a festival and got to quenching my thirst.

Maybe it isn’t commonplace to predrink before going to a brunch but as we parents don’t get out much you’ve got to make the most of these opportunities when they present themselves, right? In any case, Garage Brunch kicked off at 12pm with bottomless cocktails for an hour and I’d never go for a sprint without warming up beforehand so it’s kinda the same thing really. Isn’t it?

As instructed by the team, we arrived on the cobbles of Camden Market outside Dingwalls slightly before 12pm – where there was already a party-hungry crowd queuing – so that we could be shown to our table comfortably before everyone charged in. We were the first ones inside and got handed a glass each on entry, which we were told to keep hold of as that would be the vessel with which we’d consume our cocktails.

Although down to guests to get refills from the bar as and when they wanted, Bronte, one of the hosts, got the ball rolling and asked whether we wanted a rum or gin-based option and the former won the battle. Tasting largely like a fruit punch, it went down with ease and we were at the bar soon enough for a re-up but this time went for gin – though it was hard to distinguish the two to be honest. Regardless, it went down just as smoothly as the first. And the beauty of drinks being free for the hour meant there generally wasn’t a queue because the bar staff only had to pour rather than take payments. 

The venue quickly began to fill up as the doors opened to make way for the rush of garage-loving ravers who were all eager to get their skank on. I was in my element as banger after banger got dropped – no really, look at the video below – and spent much of my time on my feet rather than at the table. The 16,253 steps I notched up that day confirms as much.

With themed games including Garage Bingo and Garage Mastermind on the menu, I did wonder just exactly how they’d manage to convince the crowd to pay any mind to what was happening on stage when they were drinking the bar dry and skanking hard. Simple – calm down on the tunes with some lesser-known instrumentals, lower the volume and everyone suddenly wants to sit down. It was a hypnotic stroke of genius.

Food was brought out to tie in with the kick-off of bingo, which had people on each table battling it out for a bottle of Prosecco in-between mouthfuls of fried chicken and chips. And although we didn’t win, given the circumstances we were there for, Bronte and another host called Lauren were kind enough to hook us up with a bottle nevertheless to keep the party going. Garage Mastermind saw a few contenders have their UKG knowledge put to the test on stage, while a skank-off had a handful of girls go to war on the dance floor to decide who would be crowned victorious.

Of course, with music the focal point of the day, So Solid Crew’s Swiss and Summer of Love singer-cum-DJ Lonyo were in the house. And let’s not forget the performance from Denzie, the vocalist on Monsta Boy’s Sorry, belting out the song to show he’s still got it 20 years later.

As the event was coming to a close, a really nice touch orchestrated by Swiss was a moment of silence for Cadet, the London rapper who recently passed away in a car crash en route to a gig. Although some people in the crowd didn’t grasp the gravitas of the moment ­– they were quickly told to shut up – it was a thoughtful thing to do ahead of the grand finale, which was 21 Seconds being pumped out and spat live by Swiss who took on the role of all 349 members of So Solid.

So Garage Brunch – do I really like it? Is it, is it wicked? Overall, the day was on point. The atmosphere was live, the guests were on a level and the staff couldn’t have been more helpful if they tried, so I’ll definitely be heading back in the future. And believe me I’m being true – that’s straight from the heart.

Tickets to Garage Brunch can be booked now, with availability right up until the end of 2019.

Related posts:

Raver Tots Outdoor Festival 2018: The event party-loving parents have waited for

Standon Calling 2018: When you have a toddler but it’s festival season

Big Fish Little Fish: Interview with the genius inventor of family raves

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