On occasional day-long ‘business’ trips to foreign countries I feel like I should be wearing a suit and have a copy of the financial times under my arm. On Thursday 20th October I dressed rather differently from that, and headed to Holland for the annual Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE), the world’s most important dance industry conference. It’s a great opportunity to meet the people you speak to on email all year long.
Travelling with my Radio 1 producer Alex, it was an early start, as we were booked in to record a co-host show with Armin Van Buuren at 9:30am in his house in the town of Leiden. I set off for the airport at 5am for a 7am flight to AMS. It was a nice experience seeing Armin in his home environment – normally we only manage to catch-up at gigs on which we share the same bill. Armin was extremely hospitable, and after the co-host, Alex and I headed into the city to meet up with Tristan D.
At ADE, I was speaking on a panel called “Ibiza is… the new Ibiza”. Also on the bill were Mark Netto, who is the main booker and organizer behind Pacha Ibiza, Ben Turner (IMS organizer), and representatives of Amnesia and DC10 . At one point things got a little heated between some of the panelists and I, as we debated the justification behind Ibiza’s very steep club drinks prices. My argument was (and is) that if the clubs charged less money they’d actually sell more drinks. Simple economics and everybody wins.
After a catch-up with Big Nik from Ibiza in an Amsterdam coffee shop (where I didn’t partake… not my thing at all), I headed straight back to Schipol Airport for an evening flight to Manchester. My road manager Pete met me on arrival in to Manchester, and we headed straight for a gig at 53 degrees in Preston. Unfortunately the journey wasn’t long enough for a snooze, and after a brief spell catching up on emails we arrived before I’d even blinked. The event was promoted by “Taking Liberties”, who put on midweek student nights throughout the north of England. Following a loud gig, Pete and I headed back down to London, and after a near 24-hour day, needless to say I slept like a baby the whole way home.
The next outing was on Saturday 22nd October to Dunfermline in Scotland. It was a club I’d never played before, which always gets the mind ticking on how to approach an unfamiliar crowd. When we arrived I was ushered through a private entrance into a back stage room, so I had no idea how far we were from the crowd and the decks etc. I could hear the music but had no clue how busy it was, nor how the club was laid-out. After a few back stage drinks I was taken through to a packed venue with a jumping crowd – all systems go. A few hours later it was a sleep-free 6am flight, as I made part 1 of my journey to Los Angeles, via Amsterdam…
It was just as easy (and a lot cheaper) to travel from Edinburgh to Los Angeles via Amsterdam on KLM (as opposed to via London). I’m very lucky to be able to fly business class, but KLM is not the best airline – their seats are extremely uncomfortable. The only way to combat this and get decent rest was to bring a selection of pillows and cocoon myself into the seat. 11 hours later I landed in LAX, grabbed my hire car and headed for my hotel to meet up with my family (who had flown out a day earlier from London).
The first US DJ outing of the week was on my birthday, Wednesday 26th, in Orange County. OC is about an hour from LA, traffic permitting. Traffic did not ‘permit’, and it took almost two hours to cover the 35 mile journey to Anaheim. The Interstate 5 can be a horrendous freeway- it’s California’s version of the M25. Anaheim is mid way between Los Angeles and San Diego and is nicknamed the ‘armpit of California’, not because of the smell, but because it’s supposedly the hottest area of CA. The gig was at a fairly intimate venue, Heat @ Ultra Lounge. The benchmark for sound systems in US clubs is so much higher than the UK – I could feel the vibration from down the street.
The next gig was on Friday 28th, as I flew up to Las Vegas from LA. It’s amazing how many people from Los Angeles travel to Vegas for the weekend, with countless flights a day from LAX and a sardine-packed freeway for the length of the 200 mile route. I was booked to play a new club called Chateau, which is open air and directly under the Vegas mock-up of the Eifel tower. It’s always nice playing alfresco. Although Vegas gets quite cold in winter, the club had literally hundreds of stand-up gas heaters. I love Vegas and wish I could have hung-out longer, however Canada beckoned.
The next day, I flew up to Calgary in Canada for the final gig in this US mini tour. As an artist, Canadian immigration can be very painful. With a work visa that has to be collected on arrival, one can sometimes be waiting for up to 3 hours to see an immigration officer. They put you in huge line alongside students and families immigrating to Canada for the first time. For workers like me, who are coming and going within 24hrs, I think they should create a new system and have a separate line. Luckily, for the first time ever I didn’t have to wait too long and sailed straight through. The gig was at the BMO Centre in Calgary and very much a trance orientated event- just my thing. The crowd were fantastic and it would have been impossible not to have a good time. I’m trying to track down some pictures from the gig to put on the site, so if you where there then please whack them over firstname.lastname@example.org
Friday 4th November saw a long-awaited return to Gallery at London’s Ministry of Sound. With the chaos of the Summer, in recent months I hadn’t got to spin at my regular London gig as much as I’d have liked to. So I was very excited for Friday 4th. I finished my live Radio 1 show at 1am and headed straight down to the MoS. Gareth Emery was on before me and the club was the busiest I’ve seen it for a long time -wall-to-wall. I managed to catch the majority of Gareth’s set, which was faultless. Simon Patterson was on after me, and we left the club with big smiles all round. I recorded my set, which you can download it via the “Mix Sets” tab on the site.
Bonfire night was the next outing (if you’re not from the UK, Google it to appreciate the historical significance of the date, November 5th). Pete and I head up the M1 to Northampton for a regular haunt of mine, Fever. Traditionally I’d only done Fever on Fridays, but promoter Simon had suggested that I played on a couple of Saturdays. I’m glad I did, the club was rammed with a big line outside. Things rocked at Fever, and it was great to see the multiple fireworks displays as we headed up (and back down) the M1 motorway from London. Does anybody know when the annoying 50 MPH limit is going to be lifted and the roadworks finished on the M1? It goes for about 20 miles and is painful in the extreme, let me know… email@example.com
On Thursday 10th November it was back to Heathrow, en route to Dubai. I flew BA from T5, departing at 9:30pm on the Wednesday evening. The beauty of a night flight is the ability to get a semi-full night’s sleep and arrive relatively refreshed into your destination. With the UAE being 4 hours ahead of the UK, I landed at about 8am and headed straight for my hotel (The Atlantis). I dropped off my stuff and hit the Karama market- I had been sent on a mission by Amanda to find her a new bag. I’ve got plenty of friends in Dubai and went out for dinner and bars before the gig at Atlantis. With Dubai being relatively strict on nightlife, all of the clubs are within hotel complexes, making it very easy to get from your hotel room to the dj booth. The only down side is the strict “no drinking behind the decks” policy. Luckily, a friend kept providing me drinks just outside the booth. The club was busy, with a large expat crowd in attendance. The next day (Fri 11th) I had to dash straight back to London for my live BBC Radio 1 show.
Friday 11th was the first of three consecutive weeks of trips to Skegness for reunion parties. For those of you that aren’t familiar, ‘reunions’ are sold by the UK youth tour operators to clubbers during their summer holidays. The first of three was for Twenties’ Naughty Reunion. It’s surreal recognising so many of the faces you see at the resorts in the summer reunited in Skegness. We’re having one the mildest Novembers in history. I remember doing this exact same gig last year and there being a foot of snow on the ground.
The next day was a double header, taking in Blackburn and St Helens. The first port of call was St Helens, about 30 miles east of Liverpool, at “The Venue”. We arrived with about 20 minutes to spare and enough time for a quick drink with the promoter, before it was time to hit the decks. The next instalment was about an hour’s drive north, in Blackburn. Unfortunately, not enough time for a snooze, so Pete and I assumed our default position and discussed the day’s football results. The Blackburn show was at Warehouse One, a new venue with a corking sound system. It took me back to the early days of DJing with its basic raw feel. After a fantastic night on the road I rolled into the car and slept the entire way back to my front door in North London.
Friday 18th took in another long drive up to Skegness. Pete picked me up straight after my Radio 1 show and raced us to Skeg in great time. Week two of the reunions was the first of the “Big” reunions, completely sold out in advance. We skipped into Skegness with seconds to spare and I jumped straight on the decks, after Example, always a difficult act to follow. The atmosphere never fails and pictures will be posted on the site imminently. After a couple of interviews and downing a few drinks, Pete and I headed back to London.
More next time…