What’s the furthest you’ve travelled for a night out? Until last week, my record was Manchester or perhaps Liverpool – both two hours or so by train from London. Not very far, in other words. But now I can say I’ve travelled 1,283 miles to one of the most remote places on Earth. And it wasn’t to hike. Nor was it to go wildlife-spotting. In fact, I went to a disco.
Þingeyri, in Iceland’s Westfjords region, is the kind of place where news travels fast. This village of around 250 people sits on a fjord fringed by towering basalt mountains. It has a church, a café, a small hotel and, bizarrely, a co-working space. And for two nights only, the town hall hosted Detour Discotheque: the first in a new series of club nights in the world’s most unexpected places. It’d been the talk of the village (and the whole region) for months.
Safe to say they’ll be reminiscing about it for decades, too. Overnight, the population had ballooned to a hefty 400, with visitors travelling in from as far as Los Angeles and Boston. The town hall, usually host to meetings and the odd wedding, was decked out in technicolour balloons and sparkling streamers. A huge disco ball spun from the ceiling. The vibe was school disco, but with a lot more good music (and local Reyka vodka).
The first night featured resident DJs (founders Jonny Ensall, a former Time Out staffer, and Joss Bibby); the second an international lineup of Rahaan (a Chicago disco legend), Norsicaa (an eclectic disc spinner from London) and Hermigervill – a local hero whose joyous, ever-so-slightly silly Nordic disco proved the highlight.
But it was the surreality of the whole experience that made the event really worth travelling for. There were flares and there were blindingly colourful shirts. People limboed. Drinks were spilled, only to be mopped up within around 30 seconds. Nothing like this had ever taken place here before – as one local put it, ‘it’s amazing to see Icelandic people dancing, not just stumbling around drunk’ – and while the whole event felt rather safe and polite, that only enhanced its oddball charm.
The next Detour Disco is apparently pencilled in for 2023, and in a brand-new super-remote location. The mountains of Norway? The Colombian jungle? The Aussie Outback? Wherever the hell the party is, we’ll be right down the front, flared and glittered to the max.
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