aespia takes over grow tottenham for a day of mindful mischief

The masterminds of immersive artistic experience have returned. Occupying Grow Tottenham for a sixteen-hour explosion of; paint, music, dance, spoken word, burlesque -and what can only be described as The Spectacle, Aespia’s London Take Over brought summer to a slamming conclusion.

We were first introduced to Aespia at Meadows in the Mountains, as a participant of their wonderfully curated blindfolded sculpting and foot painting workshops. Ecstatic to hear they were hosting an event on home turf, and admittedly a little too keen to re-live the meadows memories, we arrived within the first hour of the festival. I was greeted swiftly by familiar faces we’d fell in love with atop a mountain in Bulgaria. This was going to be a fun day. 

Past the gates you were met with a canvas corner inviting you to paint, along with brightly coloured installations surrounding the periphery. Being a green, plastic free event, you were advised to bring your own re-usable beverage vessel. Otherwise, there was an option to  purchase a white ceramic camping mug which you could doodle with sharpies provided. Or better yet, ask a new friend to leave their own special imprint. 

Inside a converted greenhouse, The Glass Theatre was host to an array of outstanding live performances. From a young lady sharing her personal, yet hilarious, experiences of modern online dating, to captivating synchronised interpretative dance. And of course, the loud, proud, saucy and seductive sequence of burlesque and drag acts. The Glass Theatre was a delightful, honest and intimate celebration of on-stage talent with inclusivity at its heart. Rarely was there a spare seat in the house and as day turned to night, we were on our feet grooving to some classic feel good tunes by courtesy of Tasty Lopez.

A little deeper into the outdoor space, through the tunnel of richly woven dream catchers, lies The Shack. Kitted out with towering speakers thrusting jungle beats and glowing diamond sculptures hanging from above, this was one dancefloor we were reluctant to leave. Adjacent to this bass monkey’s playground stood a huge blank canvas. Over the course of the festival it came to life as the artist’s vision materialised. Said artist captured our attention not only with her spectacular talent, but her vest stitched together from sacrificed teddy bears. Cuddlesome yet disturbing, we debated the ethical implications for hours. 

It was only later in the evening we stumbled into a dimly lit groove room, shimmering with sparkly attractions. The Cave was where the festival concluded, steered by resident DJ’s of Aespia; Jnr smooth, Late Nite Johnson and Keisuke. We heard whispers of a unique performance to take place in The Cave at a nightly hour. A gaggle of rave gremlins gathered to behold a display of flesh and bondage which would have your mother clutching her rosary beads. This was an unadulterated, filthy and fabulous spectacle of sin, as our sweet Juzzy Mandro was prepared for human sacrifice by a pair of undeniably sexy succubi.

Inevitably, the sun comes up and 6am rolls around. We return to the default world still smiling with a little groove in our step. It’s rare to attend an event offering such a diverse range of artistic aptitude. Through the Aespia family Jodie Powell has managed to create an ecosystem, in the midst of an increasingly divided world, where human connections flourish.  You’re welcomed to be the safe space and join the clan on the 23rd of November at Stour Space, where The Glass Theatre will be making a comeback. Grab your tickets and prepare to be “drenched in glitter and sweat”.

Photos by Sam Cooper

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