Talk of the Town: elrow Town Edinburgh preview

Clubbing extravaganza elrow Town makes its Scottish debut at Edinburgh's Royal Highland Centre this month, bringing with it all its usual weird and wonderful themes. Creative producer Zoë Wellman explains how these themes come to fruition

Feature by Nadia Younes | 10 Jul 2019
  • ElrowTown Antwerp Festival

Giant babies and chopsticks, walking showers and dancing dragons; these are just a few of the wacky characters you’ll be able to see roaming around Edinburgh’s Royal Highland Centre as elrow Town makes its Scottish debut in the capital this month.

Following elrow’s official Scottish debut at the same venue back in 2017 with its Halloween Haunted House event, which saw sets from the likes of Richy Ahmed, The 2 Bears and Mall Grab, the festival’s organisers will be bringing its elrow Town series north of the border for the first time on Saturday 27 July.

Well known for its madcap themes and wild sights, the festival is a clubbing experience unlike any other and has won numerous awards for its various strands, with the London edition of elrow Town most recently winning the award for Best Festival Production at the 2018 UK Festival Awards. “Our dream has always been to see all of our themes in one place,” says creative producer Zoë Wellman.

“We wanted to give people the most immersive experience imaginable – a chance for our audience to think about which elrow world they wanted to be a part of,” she continues. “Every year we want to make sure we are offering our audiences a new experience, so we try to use themes that haven't been seen at the festivals yet. elrow's lead creatives come together to discuss which of the remaining themes could be blown up to have the most impact in a festival environment and a final selection is made.”

The Edinburgh edition of elrow Town will be headlined by British electronic duo CamelPhat, with the line-up also featuring a DJ set from Basement Jaxx and further sets from elrow regulars Detlef, Joris Voorn and Paco Osuna. Meanwhile, performance collective Little Gay Brother take charge of the Absolut Pink Cathedral, bringing their queer rave to the festival, while satirical online publication Wunderground host the Rescue Stage, following a recent outing at Terminal V’s spring party, The Rising.

As for the festival’s themes, the outdoor stage will centre around the Singermorning theme, with stilt walkers, inflatable games and activities, while the indoor stage, held in the warehouse, will feature ping-pong players, karaoke and sumo wrestlers, following the Chinese Row Year theme. “Singermorning is created around a comic book full of crazy characters called Cantamañana. It's about not worrying about yesterday or thinking about tomorrow, but living in the now,” says Wellman. “We felt for all festivalgoers that this is something that they can relate to – the feeling of letting go and being free.

“There are many crazy, fun games that can be played, where revellers can win Singermorning money for some hilarious prizes. It's a real wild ride,” she adds. “With the Chinese Row Year theme, we allow our audience to celebrate with that special New Year feeling every time… Expect the unexpected because nothing is quite as it seems.”

With 18 themes in total and more currently in the pipeline, elrow’s creative team are constantly pushing themselves to develop new and exciting ideas for their upcoming festivals. “The new Rowmudas stage is mind-blowing,” says Wellman. “Our newest theme, Growenlandia, is also a favourite, as each year we are growing bigger and better, continually striving to create an elevated experience.”

elrow Town takes place at Royal Highland Centre, Edinburgh, 27 Jul