Kenzo celebrates club culture in spellbinding new dance film

Inspired by an Angolan dance form known as kizomba, Club Ark Eternal pays homage to nightlife

In the last ten years, nearly half of the UK’s clubs have closed – a phenomenon which has been particularly acute in London where venue after venue has shut down, largely thanks to gentrification. But nightlife is an important part of our culture; it’s how we figure out who we are, meet people like us and, for a lot of us, simply how we let off some steam. There a political element to it too, which is explored in Kenzo’s new film Club Ark Eternal that celebrates club culture as “a powerful source of alternative energies against racism, sexual oppression and class violence.”

Directed by Partel Oliva and with movement direction from Grammy-nominated choreographer Ryan Heffington (who directed Maddie Ziegler in Sia’s “Chandelier” video), the film features a series of solos – moments that symbolise the times when you’re first (or last) on the dancefloor and caught up in the music, or the times you’re simply dancing on your own in your bedroom.

For Partel Oliva, who have created a total of five films for Kenzo, inspiration for Club Ark Eternal came when she was in Southern Africa. “Back in October, we shot a young model from Angola. As we were discussing kizomba, their amazing version of zouk, they told us: ‘I wasn’t put on this Earth to dance’. It almost became the title of this film.”

“It’s a film about dancing but we approached it with the idea of not taking dancing for granted. So we sat with Ryan and the dancers, showed them a video of a man, clearly not a pro, dancing with such abandon that he seemed deep in thought, on the brink of discovery. It’s about dance as pleasure and privilege,” they continue. 

“We wanted the film to shift between modes, like a dancer searching for steps or roving kids looking for a party. We also drew from research we did on trance states for another project. The structure of the film mimics moving through planes of experience: induction, breathwork, ecstasy, convulsions, sensory illusions, visions. Sometimes the dancer reaches the light, sometimes she doesn’t.”

A highly compelling watch, Club Ark Eternal is yet another example of Kenzo’s brilliant approach to fashion film. Having collaborated with a string of acclaimed directors (such as The Doom Generation’s Gregg Araki, Tangerine’s Sean Baker, Portlandia’s Carrie Brownstein and Her’s Spike Jonze), they use the medium to do more than just showcase clothes – to tell stories and express ideas. Because of that, we’re always excited to see what they come out with next.