Firstly, I would like to wish everyone a happy new year and thank everybody who’s been in touch via my social networking mediums or email over the past few weeks. Your kind words really mean a lot.
This instalment kicks off at the tail end of November, on Saturday 26th. It was a blustery night in the north east of England, containing a double header of gigs. The first port of call was Northallerton for a Koolwaters event. Pete and I arrived into Northallerton slightly unsure of our location and crept around the vicinity of the club looking for a parking space. When you park in unknown towns late at night, you tend to be selective about where you leave the car. This obviously aroused suspicion, as a few minutes later we were stopped by an unmarked police car, clearly viewing us as some kind of undesirables. Thankfully, as soon as they saw our innocent faces and sweet smiles, they let us go on our merry way with helpful directions to the venue. On arrival at the club there was a line stretching down the street and around the corner- always a good sign. The gig was great, and the DJ booth was fantastically situated -the perfect balance of not too near and not too far away from the dancefloor.
The next stop was just about a realistic driving distance, within the limited time allocated by my itinerary-ambitious manager. The drive from Northallerton to Scarborough was slightly unnerving due to the gale force winds and heavy rain en route. Really bad weather can sometimes take its toll on clubland, but thankfully the event is a long-standing 6-year success for its promoters, who are good mates. The Squatters are producers/DJs I’ve been supporting big-time over the past couple of years. Their musical style is a hybrid between wonky jacking electro house and trance. As fellow Judgement Sundays Ibiza residents, they really know how to tickle my musical taste buds. Unfortunately, due to my manager’s ambitious journey time calculations, we didn’t have much time to socialise when I arrived at Viva’s, but the set went very well. I can’t wait to see the guys back in Ibiza this Summer, I’m already getting excited…
It’s been one of the mildest autumns in recent European history. On Saturday 3rd December I headed for a Gatecrasher tour date at Kosmonaut in St Petersburg, Russia. I played this venue exactly one year earlier, and the difference in the weather was huge. I spoke to many folk on this Russian outing, none of whom could ever recall not seeing snow by December. It seems like we’ve gone from one extreme to the other.
En route to the gig, the driver had the car radio tuned into influential Russian dance station Radio Record, which was broadcasting live from the event. It’s always exciting to hear the live screams from he crowd before you’ve even arrived at the venue. Simon Patterson & The Thrillseaskers were also on the lineup and the arena couldn’t have been more jumping. Ironically, 36 hours later I was due to play 200 miles west in Finland. However, rather than hanging around in this corner of the globe, I decided to return home to London for the day in between, so I could spend a bit of extra time with the family. On Sunday 4th December I flew back from Russia to London via Helsinki. Strangely, even though they’re only 200 miles apart, Helsinki and St Petersburg have a 2 hour time difference. This means you land before you’ve even taken off.
Monday 5th December was the eve of Finland’s independence day, a significant party night in the Finnish calendar. In the boarding queue for the flight from London I bumped into Mark Knight. He wasn’t playing the same event but it was nice to catch up. That day saw the first snow Finland had received for winter 2011/2012, and, in keeping with many northern European countries, by law all cars have to switch to snow tyres for the winter season. The Scandinavians know how to deal with (and drive in) snow competently, unlike their friends across the North Sea. At the airport, I was met by promoter Kimmo Kapauchio (AKA K-System), who drove me the 100 kms north to Hameenlinna. The night took place in an old dance hall with a particularly thumping sound system, Kimmo’s own party called “Push Up”, running for 6 years. The atmosphere was fantastic, and on the way out I thanked Kimmo for the invitation. Early the following morning, I headed straight back to Helsinki airport en route to London for a couple of days in the studio, ahead of my South African mini tour at the weekend.
On Wednesday 7th December, I received some news that I knew would happen some day. After 14 years at BBC Radio 1, the station will be re-shuffling their Friday night dance output, meaning that I (amongst others) will be leaving the station in a few months’ time. The change will take effect from April 2012, and from then on I will be solely concentrating on my internationally syndicated radio show “The Global Warm Up”. You may have read about my plans to become an entertainment Lawyer. I have accepted a position in top London firm Sheridans, who represent some of the biggest names in music, including many huge dance acts. For the past 4 years I’ve been re-training as a lawyer part-time, and this has always been my long-term strategy. The main point I want to make clear is that (contrary to some emails and blogs) I’m NOT quitting DJing. I start with Sheridans in 2013, after which I’ll still be DJing, with their blessing. So for now it’s business as usual, and from April my Friday night gig diary will open up to areas I couldn’t reach before, because of my commitment to a live show. I would like to thank everybody for your support and kind words over the past month.
The next day, Amanda and I flew to South Africa for a 3 date mini tour. Flying to SA from the UK can only be done on night flights, and we travelled with BA from LHR, arriving into Johannesburg on the morning of Friday 9th December. The weather in Jo’Burg wasn’t as nice as expected, considering it was their summer, so we spent most of Friday chilling in our hotel room. Since hosting the 2010 World Cup, South Africa’s infrastructure has improved beyond all recognition. It proves just what a huge deal it is when a nation gets to host a World Cup or the Olympics.
That night I played Sky Raiders, a one-off party in a large aircraft hangar- we could see a whole bunch of private propeller planes from the DJs’ green room. The only downside was that the sound crew hadn’t installed CDJ2000s turntables, which have USB stick capability. Most DJs (who don’t play off laptops) now use memory sticks instead of CDs to spin their tracks. Prior to travelling, I had been told that all three South African venues had USB-compatible equipment. I therefore only brought a small quantity of CDs with me, leaving the majority back in London. The situation left me unable to play all the tracks I would have liked to, but I really enjoyed the gig nevertheless.
On Saturday 10th December we flew over to Cape Town to play Trinity nightclub. Cape Town is a great destination for doing touristy things. During the day we visited the jaw-dropping “Table Mountain”, which involves ascending in a cable car surrounded by the most dramatic scenery imaginable. The gig that night was fantastic, with a screaming crowd from start to finish, and lots of positive social media feedback over the following few days.
The next day we hit the Victoria & Albert shopping mall, before heading back to to Cape Town Airport to fly over to Durban for a Judgement Sundays event at Cuba Lounge, part of one of the giant football stadia built for the World Cup. Arriving into Durban a little delayed, we had to pretty much race straight to the gig (a daytime event). En route, the promoter told us a succession of horror stories about South Africa’s dangerous security situation (with carjackings etc) and how it had affected him personally. It put the wind up Amanda, but we were in a very safe part of the city centre. The venue was partially outdoors, which always makes for a special atmosphere. The gig was very rowdy and it was a great end to a fantastic South African mini tour. We spent the rest of the evening at some friends’ house, having a few drinks around their pool and letting off steam until 3am.
On Monday 12th, Amanda and I headed back to Johannesburg en route to London. Jo’Burg airport has improved massively since my last visit, and we did a little last minute shopping before boarding the flight. After such a hectic few days we both slept for the entirety of the 11 hour journey, not even stirring as our plane overflew Ibiza, as most South Africa-UK flights do. Pictures of the tour can be found in the “Gallery” section of the site.
On Saturday 17th Pete and I veered 180 degrees away from South Africa, driving from London to Hull. Promoters come and go, and it’s nice to see folk I’ve worked with for a long time staying strong and ultimately owning their own venue. Such has been the career path of Terry, who now owns “Stereo”. On arrival at the club, Terry took us upstairs to a small secondary room that wasn’t very busy. Terry was quick to explain that this wasn’t the main room and that downstairs was packed. He wasn’t kidding – the place was wall to wall and everyone was very much up for it. After my set I felt bad that I couldn’t hang around, but I was flying to Thailand at 8am from London (having finished in Hull at 3.)
Our trip to Thailand over the Christmas period was three quarters holiday and a quarter work-orientated. We stayed in Koh Samui, which neighbours the famous ‘full moon’ island of Koh Phangan. Former Kiss 100 DJ Graham Gold now lives on Koh Phangan, and on Wednesday 16th December we ventured over to see him. Accessible only via speedboat and ferry, we spent, an afternoon at Graham’s hilltop house in the middle of the Thai jungle. Even though I’ve been to Thailand at least 10 times, I’ve never been there on date coinciding with a full moon party- it’s an ambition I’m determined to fulfill one day. It was great to see Graham, and the following evening I flew from Koh Samui to Phuket to DJ (by chance, Graham was performing in another Phuket venue on the same night). The weather in different Thai islands varies massively, even though the distance between some is relatively short. In December Phuket is a much dryer, whereas Samui was in the midst of its rainy season. I played at Seduction in the resort of Patong, which was packed. After a few more days of doing relatively little by the pool in Samui, on Christmas day we flew back to London for our first UK Christmas dinner in a few years at the in-laws’.
More next time, including my final gigs of 2011.
Whatever you did this Christmas I hope you had a great one. If you have questions or anything to chew the fat about, please feel free to get in touch, it’s always nice to hear from you. firstname.lastname@example.org