What’s the biggest house party you’ve ever been to? 100 people? 150? These numbers are nothing compared to the size of the raves that were once had at Aberdeen’s 530 King Street. Not just for sheer numbers either; more for the fact it was larger than life…
For five years, it was the place to go for a legendary get-together, hosted by a handful of students in their term-time home. While those days may be over now, the lessons we can take from 530 King Street live on. With a crate of beer, a sound bar and a blackout curtain, you could also host a night to define your own underground city scene.
We bet you’re curious to see what we mean, so let’s talk about the best student party you’ve probably never heard of…
The early curfew fightback
Number 530 King Street doesn’t look too special from the outside. Sat between a care home and a doctor’s surgery, it’s a grey, six-bedroom property – the typical place you’d find in second year. Beneath the façade though, this house has a story to tell. For half a decade, it was the best kept secret of Aberdeen’s rave community. 300 people or more would pile in, lose their minds, and listen to some of the hottest names in dance music.
This happened because of two things: circumstance and talent. Circumstance because Scotland has strict licensing laws, which meant that students were desperate for somewhere to go after 3am. And talent because Rory Masson – the guy behind the idea – framed it as a test run for his Event Management degree. “I first realised we could be on to something after we had an after-party for Âme [after they played local club] The Tunnels,” he told Vice in 2017. “Around 200 to 300 people came back, and that’s when we realised that maybe it had outgrown the house.”
What made it special?
Rory initially made contacts in and around Aberdeen’s (then) limited club network. Local promoter, Minival, called him one day when he was hungover. He’d sent them a picture of the house’s living room, complete with £5,000 DJ setup. They were keen to scope it out, seeing whether it’d be a place to keep the night going after their city events ‘officially’ wrapped up. “They had a quick walk around, checked out the speakers and garden, and then asked me to run after-parties for them exclusively,” said Rory.
530 King Street had several advantages. There weren’t any night-time neighbours, for instance; both the surgery and care home emptied out in the afternoon. On top of that, the thick walls and double-glazed windows dulled the sound from inside. The party could carry on for hours without anyone caring. Soon enough, Rory was seeing Bicep rock up to his front door, Denis Sulta, Fatima Yamaha… A host of house and techno artists came to play sets or just soak up the atmosphere.
“You’d think they’ve seen everything,” Rory reminisced of his guest artists, “so it’s always great to see the amazement on their faces when they walk into the house and see what’s going on.
Putting parties into practice
It was pretty common to see DJs scurrying around Aberdeen, moving vinyl to weird spots like 530 King Street. Rory and his friends always had an interest in running events, and they took the demand for their after-parties as a hint they should pursue it further.
They began to run their own club night, FiveThirty, at The Tunnels venue in 2014. It was a big success. But the house remained for the last – and maybe most special – stage of the night. 530 King Street still greeted hundreds of visitors when FiveThirty wrapped up. It was a tradition, and although the boys graduated in 2017, they’ll never forget what they accomplished.
In fact, they threw a final bash – a who’s who of big hitters. “I couldn’t have asked for a better send off for the place,” Rory said. “Loads of people from over the years flew up from various places to make sure they made the last one. Now that we’re all moving out and moving on to jobs, or whatever, we can officially say that 530 is done and over.”
With a vision and the ability to bring people together, Rory managed to redefine a city’s musical reputation. You can too – just make it happen. At the very least, take some pointers for arranging a party to remember – read our tips here if you want to shake things up at your own address.