51st State Festival 2021 Review

North London's annual house music celebration returned in emphatic fashion

London’s annual celebration of “real house music” returned to Trent Country Park last weekend in emphatic fashion. Two years in the making, the 6th edition once again joined the dots between seminal figures of dance history and the new wave of rising artists.

Featuring performers from the roots of electronic music in gospel, soul and disco, through to the rise of acid house, 2-step, garage and more. 7 stages of music were in full swing on the day, packed with globe-trotting talent ready and raring to get back to it.

Image credit : Sarah Ginn


The festival took place within the picturesque Trent Country Park. The North London location is situated within 413 acres of rolling meadows and ancient woodland which forms part of London’s Green Belt.

Accessible by tube & bus, the site was just a short walk from Cockfosters. A pre-paid car park was also available, although you’d need to add on another 20 minutes to walk from there to the festival. Arriving by public transport ourselves, the festival grounds were just 5 minutes away from the park’s entrance so we’d recommend leaving the car at home.

The walkway into the festival grounds

Efficient, friendly and just as excited as we were to get back to the rave. Queues for entry were minimal throughout the day thanks to a well-organised team on the door and drinks served in seconds with armies of bar staff on hand to quench our thirst. The only large queues seen on the day were from the wristband top up stands, with many in attendance opting to load their money on the day rather than beforehand. Some additional top up stands may help reduce the wait on these in future.

With such a vast amount of sounds on show, the festival attracted a variety of people from different backgrounds and ages. However, generally speaking the largest share of the 15,000 in attendance were 25+, with many being veteran fans and having a great knowledge of the music they were listening to. Nothing but positive energy and smiles could be seen throughout the day across all stages, with thousands letting off 18 months of cooped up rave energy!

Even rain didn’t couldn’t stop the electric party atmosphere! Image credit : Liam Simmons

Multiple bars on site served a variety of alcoholic and soft drinks, as well as a separate cocktail stand. All bars took only cashless payment using the festival wristbands, however you could cop a soft drink from an ice cream van on site using cash.

E1 Brew Lager and Strongbow (Apple or Dark Fruit) – £6
Single mixer – £7, double mixer – £9.50
Wine – £6.50, bottle – £27.00
Soft drinks – £2.50

Likewise with drinks, food on the day was also cashless and had a large menu on offer. Everything from the classic burger vans, to crispy duck wraps, ice cream, dirty fries and our personal favourite – cheese on toast.

Production & Sound
As with any festival, event, club night, or even the afters – the sound is important. When it’s crisp, clean, and loud, there’s nothing quite like it. During the opening sets of the day, there was some muddying between the seven stages, as the sound engineers worked to balance the levels as more and more punters rolled in. The main stage was particularly great, as the basslines rumbled your chest – oh how we’ve missed that! Especially important when DJs like Body & Soul opt to use high end rotary mixers.

Large LED screens, lasers, moving beams, strobes, and spot lights all featured throughout the 7 stages with the full spectacle seen as the sun set and the darkness creeped in. Large screens either side of the stage were linked up with the videographer sharing highlights of the crowd dancing too. A particularly nice addition were the disco dancers – decked out head to toe in mirror glass like a disco ball, and the carnival angels – delicately dancing to the disco sounds.

DJ Sets

Nico & Dean Detached
Easing us into the day on the acid stage were classic house DJs Nico & Dean Detached. A set full of flair, with spinbacks and loops, with an upbeat energy. A great start to the festivities and getting the crowd hyped for what was to come.

Dave Lee
House & disco mainstay Dave Lee was on main stage duties as we moved into the peak day time slots. The industry legend has been in the game for decades, known for his soulful, disco-tinged vocal records. Opening his special “vintage house & disco” set with Ten City’s 1989 classic “That’s The Way Love Is” was a sign of things to come for the next groove-ridden 90 minutes. A standout moment came towards the latter end of his set, with Move Your Body by Xpansions lighting up the crowd with cheers all around.

House Gospel Choir
Next up with a short but more than sweet performance was the incredible House Gospel Choir. Slowly easing us in, the Opting to slowly ease us in, the vocal group comprising of live singers and their own DJ erupted soon after, firing their powerful voices on all cylinders. Renditions of “Promised Land”, “Show Me Love”, “Precious Love” and their very own “Salvation” with Adelphi Music Factory rang around Trent Country Park in emphatic fashion.

Roger Sanchez
The 4 four deck wizard was back doing what he does best, with a show-stopping set of tricks, flicks and spins. Keeping the energy on an upward trajectory following House Gospel Choir, the US artist treated us to Mele’s funk-filled Pasilda, before drawing on the crowd’s vocal chords once again with Armand Van Helden’s “Professional Widow” and “Lola’s Theme” by Shapeshifters. We definitely needed a sit down after that.

Kicking things off early in the day was UK house DJ Bontan. Known for his smooth and stripped back deep house sound, he set the pace with a fun minimal set. His 2018 record “Call You Back” had the heads nodding the shoulders bopping, as well as the 2001 classic “It’s Yours” by John Cutler.

Body & Soul
Originally starting in the nineties as a New York house party, Body & Soul – made up of Danny Krivit, Francois K, and Joe Claussell set the stage alight with their unique concoction of soul-fuelled house and disco. Rare to see these three play, we were eager to get dancing to the esteemed trio. Even though it rained a bit during the set, this only enhanced the feel-good vibes as the sun appeared through the clouds as Marshall Jeffersons “Move Your Body” dropped. A stand out set for me

Masters At Work
Finishing up the day with the legendary “Little” Louie Vega and Kenny “Dope” Real, AKA Masters At Work was a special moment. Effortlessly blending a heavier mix of house and disco, we didn’t see a single person standing still for this set. Cool to see them with their own set of CDJs and mixer, transitioning between themselves independently – a true test of their unrivalled talent. The recently released on Nervous Records, Louie Vega re-edit of “Another Day In My Life” sent a flurry of hands in the air – and a flurry of foot moving.


What a day. With a line up oozing old school, new school house and disco flavours, we had a wicked day. Despite a little rain, some mud in the walkways (glad we wore wellies!), and reasonable queues to load up cash on your wristband, we left the event with smiles on our faces. An outstanding array of music, friendly staff, fair drinks prices and a fantastic crowd set the tone for an exciting start to the festival season. 60,000 steps and some sore feet later, we’re already looking forward to next year’s edition.

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