There aren’t many modern entertainment institutions that can trace their roots back beyond the last few decades, but Elrow has a lineage that stretches beyond the last two centuries. Here’s the story of the oldest party in town.
Elrow has now become a byword for the extravagant, all-day (and all-night) parties that dominate festival line-ups during the summer months. There are also a series of standalone events that tour around the world, and Culture Trip caught up with Elrow music director Victor De La Serna ahead of their London shows to find out more.
“The Arnau family has been in the entertainment industry for a very long time and Elrow is just another creative idea that came out of all those years of experience,” explains Serna.
Indeed, the story begins back in 1870 when Jose Satorres, who came from a traditional farming village in Spain, opened a café. The Café Josepet became a local meeting point, and it was that social element of bringing people together that evolved into Elrow as we know it today. However, as Serna tells us, it hasn’t always been plain sailing.
“Its funny as people know Elrow now as the success story they see, but its not always been sell out shows… Elrow was almost closed as people were not coming to the club. It was very challenging but the team kept working hard trying to innovate and bring something different and slowly it turned around and grew into the monster that it is today.”
The concept remained in the family and the aforementioned Arnau, relatives of Satorres, took over the café and soon the operation evolved to include a popular theatre and a hugely successful cinema. Entertainment, across all forms, was promised by the venue. The 1920’s were a roaring boom period.
“The history plays good for us as we know how to entertain people and understand the ultimate goal of a promoter – make sure people are having fun. If you are only in this for a quick buck you might not be around for a while. Longevity gives you the knowledge of working for your costumers as they are the ones that will make you big and will keep you at the top, so you always need to be at the top of your game for them.” Serna asserts when telling us about the past of Elrow.
In 2010 the concept of Elrow as we now see it was born. Originating from the “slightly illegal” Sunday sessions, the unique hook being the morning starts which were quickly transported to the party island of Ibiza. In recent years Elrow has held sessions at Glastonbury and Tomorrowland.
“We haven’t invented the wheel, we are using different elements from various avenues of performance art, circus and music and joined them all together to make this happy mess we call Elrow,” says Serna.
At festivals, such as the popular Electric Castle in Romania, Elrow offers something different to the usual DJ sets and headline acts. They are essentially a mini-festival within a festival.
“We like to separate the event in four parts, 25% decoration, 25% performers, theatre companies, etc… 25% in confetti and FX and 25% music.”
Elrow is certainly a party like no other. The scale and scope of the event is startling to see up close, but it’s heritage is what gives it a particular resonance.
Elrow London Town takes place on August 18 and 19.
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