the warehouse at sunburst 2023

On Saturday, September 9th, in a warehouse in South Denver, Sunburst had a reunion, and they invited Philadelphia DJ Josh Wink to set the sounds. On a busy weekend in a busy city, with events happening in all corners going for all hours into the long night, I found myself heading towards an industrial space turned into a studio known simply as Void.

The city lay to my left as we drove past broken-down buildings and deserted neighborhoods deeper into the part of the city few tourists would venture to see. That was the point of the warehouse movement in the ’90s and early 2000s with crews like Sunburst and DJs like Josh Wink. They set out to create memorable experiences in the parts of civilization that the rest of society did not want anymore, and to make music the backdrop of a night spent with friends and strangers looking simply to let go.

Fill the void 2023 at sunburst

A lot has changed since then, and you could tell immediately as soon as we arrived at Void Studios, a warehouse converted to an art studio used as an event space for shows like this. The idea is still the same as when we were younger, just altered in some ways. As we arrived, we found a sprawling main room with giant stacks of speakers and the walls set up on both sides of the warehouse with visuals that can only be described as psychedelic retro.

Various pop culture clips filtered onto the walls throughout the night with themes that ranged from Dr. Evil from Austin Powers to some of my favorite characters from back in the day, the Teletubbies. I still remember the day I went to a warehouse rave as a teenager, took a hit of acid, then went home and watched the Teletubbies for hours that morning. The entire night felt like a flashback to when warehouses ran the rave world.

telletubies visuals at sunburst

The longer the night went on, the more people saw faces they recognized and friends they had not seen in years. Stories were shared, memories relived, and this night at the warehouse felt as much like a reunion as anything I could remember. Many of the people attending grew up at the rave, committed to this music and this life perhaps more than anything else we’ve ever experienced. Having the chance to go back and see it all again is bittersweet and yet still so valuable.

As Josh Wink finally took to the decks sometime after midnight, he started with a darker progressive style that tested the sound system. What I find interesting about DJs like him is that many times, the people on the dance floor can feel their emotion as they play. Halfway through his three-hour set, he switched up the music and began to play breakbeat and acid house.

josh wink at sunburst 2023

Said genres were massive during the glory days of rave, and it was a solid moment to relive there in that warehouse as Josh Wink played a sound seldom played nowadays. After that, L.A. native and Moontribe artist John Kelley took over the main room as he mixed even more breakbeats with the high-energy style of house that made him influential as a member of Moonshine Records, a record label that signed artists like Carl Cox, DJ Micro, and one of my favorites, Donald Glaude.

It was fun reliving that feeling of when nothing else mattered but the rave and the music we would find there every weekend. As time goes on, the dance floor isn’t as full as it used to be, and we see each other less and less often. It’s not so easy to hang onto it like we used to, yet there are some nights when we see it again like it never left. Sunburst gave us that for one evening. They also gave us a bunch of places to sit, which becomes more important the older you get.

My favorite moment of the night was sitting outside and enjoying the night air as the train rolled across the street and smoke slowly poured out of the factory in front of it. I remember thinking that no matter where you go and who is playing, you always find the places you’re meant to find. I was thankful to relive a moment I thought was over. A chance to see a quality DJ in a setting I could once only dream of is something for which I will always be in debt to Denver.

outside sunburst 2023

We finally agreed to leave as the sun slowly began to creep up in the morning hours, and Kelley was still going strong. The city was now on my right as the taxi quietly took us back to our hotel and into our waiting beds. It is the nature of electronic music and the culture of it to change and evolve, and you could feel how much had changed on this night. The warehouse rave may not last forever, and those of us at the show on Saturday night may be getting older, but that feeling will never leave, and for that, we must keep going.

The warehouse wasn’t perfect, but it didn’t have to be. It just had to be real, and it was. Sometimes Denver makes me feel like I’m back in ’99. On September 9th, Sunburst and Josh Wink took us back to that feeling again. It was exactly the reunion we needed. See you at the next warehouse.

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