Without sounding too clichéd, all good things must come to an end. And so it goes with radio. I joined BBC Radio 1 in 1997 when a Labour government had just been elected and dial up Internet at 56KBPS seemed like unimaginable luxury. I never thought for one moment that 15 years later I’d still be on the station. On Friday 30th March I wrapped up my weekly Friday night show.
It’s been the most amazing 15 years on Radio 1 and I’ve enjoyed some of the best memories of my life, especially the large scale outdoor events such as ‘One Big Weekend’, ‘Creamfields’, ‘Homelands’ and ‘Radio 1 in Ibiza’. I’d like to thank everybody involved in the show over the years. However, it’s by no means over for me as a broadcaster. I still present a weekly radio show and you can catch your weekly dose of sonic action via ‘The Global Warm Up’. The GWU goes out to over 70 stations worldwide and is a two hour run down of the biggest tracks in my box. To listen to the Global Warm Up or to Subscribe to it as a weekly Podcast simply CLICK HERE. Just to snuff out any rumours- I’ll still be DJ’ing for a long time yet and the mighty Judgement Sundays Ibiza will be back with full force from 10th June 2012!
I start this trip with a mild reference to the above-mentioned ‘Global Warm Up’. On Thursday 8th March I flew to New York City on a brief 1-night stop over, en route to Arizona for a Friday night gig in Scottsdale. The reason for pausing in NYC was that Tristan D and I had a meeting on Friday morning at the Sirius XM HQ in the Rockefeller Plaza in Manhattan. Sirius XM is the biggest national radio network in North America and features two exclusive dance stations ‘Electric Area’ and ‘BPM’. The meeting was regarding scheduling the Global Warm Up on Sirius XM, which will be broadcast twice weekly from later this month. Tristan and I felt very “Wall Street”, heading to the upper floors of a New York skyscraper for a breakfast meeting. Later that day I headed across continental US to Scottsdale, Arizona, sister city to neighbouring Phoenix. On arrival I didn’t have much time to spare, as I’d caught the latest flight possible out of NYC to allow for shopping time. The gig was noisy and busy, and the venue was super classy. I took some pictures, which we’ll aim to get on the new site ASAP. (I hope you like its all-new redesign by the way…)
The next day (Sat 10th March) I caught a one-hour hop over to Los Angeles on cheap-and-cheerful Southwest Airlines. With such a deeply entrenched dance culture, LA’s somewhere that’s very close to my heart and one of my favourite cities in the world to play. On this occasion it was a Judgement Ibiza event at the legendary Circus, just off Hollywood Boulevard. The visuals around the club were fantastic and I tried to capture the vibe in as many pics as possible. A keen ‘shirtless’ fan insisted on gatecrashing the stage on a few occasions, which made for an entertaining set. On the subject of ‘shirtless’, the dancers at Circus wear nothing other than small nipple cups, much to my wife’s horror (but my amusement). I really enjoyed the gig, and the next day crammed in as much shopping as possible in the short time remaining. To top the trip off nicely, Jono from Above & Beyond was on the same British Airways flight home as Amanda and I. A&B are amongst the fellow DJs that I’m closest to, and there was plenty to talk about en route back to London.
The next outing was on Thursday 15th March to Stockholm, Sweden (amongst other locations). It was the ‘Monday Bar Cruise’ which travels from Stockholm to Helsinki and various other locations on the Baltic sea, depending on the specific event, all on board a gigantic car ferry. If you’re not up for a party then MBC definitely isn’t the trip for you. Imagine lying in your cabin and hearing so many different types of music at various BPMs coming from adjacent floors and cabins that they all blend in to one sea of thumping noise. Partygoers bring their own sound systems on board, and you’re talking nightclub-sized stacks of speakers that need to be wheeled in by trolley and piled into individual cabins. In addition to the in-cabin action, the ship housed four different dancefloors focusing on a range of music styles from trance through to extremely banging. I played after Eddie Halliwell, which meant I had to work hard to keep the momentum of the gyrating dance floor going, as Eddie’s always a tough act to follow. I had a rockin’ time and it was great to see so many DJ friends on board, including Eddie Halliwell and his brother Simon, Kutski, Markus Schulz, BK and The Tidy Boys. The following day it was back to London with a big smile and throbbing head.
The next outing was on Saturday 17th March to Madrid. Mainland Spain is somewhere I’ve only played on a few occasions, as the core Spanish music style is usually techno. In the past 12 months though this seems to be changing, hence an arena event with a sizeable trance contingent on the bill. Amnesia Ibiza resident Brian Cross hit the decks before me and Marco V followed, both guys I know well, so I was in familiar company. The promoters put the DJs in the must amazing designer hotel called Puerta America. In over 100 nights a year of hotel stays there is always one hotel that sticks out over and above the rest. Puerto America was the one for 2012.
The Big Snow festival is an event I’ve played a couple of times in the past, previously in Andorra, which involved flying to Barcelona and driving 4 hours up into the Pyranees. This year they changed location, and on Monday 26th March I headed to Souze de’oulx in the Italian portion of the Alps. Souze is 90 mins’ drive away from Turin airport- much more manageable than Andorra. I’d played the resort before, and last time brought the family for a bit of a ski holiday. This occasion though, there was no time to hit the slopes. The event was intimate, packed and fantastic. On the way back to the airport I shared a mini bus with about 8 other DJ’s including Majestic and Kamuki, both of whom I’ve booked for the backroom of Judgement Sundays Ibiza this summer.
After a few days’ rest back home in London it was time to hit the sky once again, this time to the United States. On Friday 30th I flew London – Miami to spin in Fort Lauderdale, which is around 10 miles north of MIA and pretty much adjoins its neighbouring city. I played at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, which was a bit of an eye opener. I was under the impression that American casinos could only operate in Nevada. Apparently not, as the Hard Rock felt every bit like a Vegas Casino, and its adjoining nightclub Gryphon was rammed and rocking. I was so well looked-after by my hosts that I had two drinks constantly on the go during my set.
The next day I flew from Miami across the Caribbean Sea to the island of Grand Cayman, just south of Cuba. On the departure monitors at MIA I noticed a couple of flights to Cuba, which was news to me. I thought it was illegal to travel directly from the United States to Cuba, so without my noticing, something must have changed.
If you know why please let me know: email@example.com .
The gig was part of a Ministry Of Sound tour and took place under the stars on the beach. Over the past couple of years I seem to have picked up the habit of swearing (in a nice way) to the crowd on the mic, just to gee them up. Not knowing that the Cayman Islands are of very strict Christian faith I screamed out the usual “What’s Up Mother Fuckers”, only to be immediately chastised by the promoter, as the Police were outside, unimpressed by my potty mouth. I’ll choose my words more carefully next time… Apart from that the gig was fantastic and the location was a first for me. I’d love to return in the near future and spend a bit more time on the island as it looked extremely beautiful. The next day I flew back to London via New York City.
Immediately on my return into London I met up with the family, and we headed straight to Ibiza for a few days. The timing was ideal, with Easter holidays and the need for some Judgement Sundays pre-season planning. Our flight was delayed by five hours, and with two small children in tow, the experience at London City airport had ‘Hell’ written all over it.
Back in the UK, on Friday 6th (beginning of the Easter weekend) I flew up to Aberdeen to play the Priory. It was an awesome venue set in an old church, which delivered a great atmosphere. The following day I headed over to County Clare in Ireland to play at Queens club. With the bank holiday being so busy the gigs seemed to blend into one. Again the club was rammed and I always love a loud Irish crowd.
The next day I flew back to London for a mammoth night of Easter Sunday DJing. The first port of call was Wolverhampton for an early evening set at a daytime ‘beach’ party. If you’re unfamiliar with British geography, it should be pointed out that Wolverhampton is nowhere near the sea. However, the promoters had carted in plenty of sand for authenticity. The event was surreal but good fun.
The next stop was Preston. It turned out to be the ‘wild card’ gig of the night, an interesting outing that probably won’t be repeated in the near future. The final port of call was Sheffield for a ‘Back to 99’ Gatecrasher-style unofficial reunion. I don’t normally do ‘classics’ sets but Sheffield was one of my longest standing residencies back in the day, and my time at Gatecrasher holds a huge place in my heart. It was great to see so many familiar faces in attendance, still looking relatively fresh after more than 10 years’ passage of time. Due to a low-ceilinged DJ booth, I repeatedly smacked my head during my set. Whilst it must have looked quite funny from the dance floor, it hurt like hell. With so many memories, I could happily have carried on playing all night, and reluctantly handed over to the next DJ when my set time drew to a close.
We arrived home around 7am, where I was only able to sleep for a matter of hours before hitting the road again, or ‘air’ should I say, back to Ireland. The Coach occupies legendary status amongst Northern Irish clubbers, and deservedly so. Although they haven’t booked such a large volume of guest DJs in recent years, the place was packed for my visit. The Northern Irish have an extra public holiday on Easter Tuesday, making for an extra night of partying. It was an outstanding end to a strong Easter period. Boy did I need a rest once it was all over.
Unfortunately a rest was not immediately forthcoming, as I flew back into Heathrow from Belfast and immediately transferred onto an Emirates departure to Dubai (Tue 10th). Although my gig in the UAE wasn’t until the Friday, Dubai is a guaranteed opportunity to kick off your shoes and grab some sun. I don’t know the stats, but surely there can’t be many places in the world with more sunny days and such consistent temperatures, even in winter months.
Having done my best to recover and grab some early nights in the three days running up to the gig at the XL Beach Club in the Habtoor Grand Hotel, it was all systems go on Friday 13th in the open air on Jumeirah Beach. My original 10pm set time was knocked back as the place took some time to fill up, but once it did things went off like a rocket in the open air. My Ibiza pre-parties excepted, I probably play no more than 10 open air events per year, and there’s something tribal and primeval about dancing under the stars. I returned to the UK a very happy guy, having been incredibly well looked-after by my hosts at XL Beach Club. The place was heaving.
That’s it for this instalment… If you’re a regular reader of this column I’d love to hear from you, it’s always nice to know how many of you are reading my rants on clubland… firstname.lastname@example.org . More next time…