It’s a great privilege doing my Radio 1 show and exposing the tunes I love to a huge audience. I hope that my passion for all I play shines through. The one disadvantage of the weekly commitment, and the finishing time, is the radius of Friday night gigs I can reach afterwards. On Friday 16th September I concluded the show at 1am, and my driver Pete whisked me 110 miles away to Evesham, which is about as far as I can realistically get to for a set after the show. It’s always a worry that I’ll turn up and the club will have thinned out, as Friday night crowds tend to go home earlier than those on Saturdays. Despite arriving at 2.30am, the club was packed and loads of people had hung around to hear me play.
The next day saw a trip to the seaside. Brighton is my favourite coastal town, sorry “city”, in the UK. I spent a lot of time there from 18 to 21 years old, as one of my closest friends was studying at Sussex Uni. Brighton is a location that never disappoints – first stop of two gigs in the city was the Shakedown festival in Stamner Park. I was booked to play the VIP arena for Hat Club, which is one of Brighton’s longest running club nights.
We arrived at the event, only to be blocked-in backstage by a sewage-emptying tanker lorry, sucking away at festival goers’ effluent through a long tube. The weather was pretty awful outside and we could hear Example on the main stage as we tried to negotiate our way past the ‘shit sucking’ truck. In the end we gave up, and walked the remaining few hundred yards to the VIP arena where I was DJing. Loads of old friends joined me during my set including Ben Gill, who was the first promoter outside of London to book me back in the early 90s. Everybody had few drinks, and when it came to the end of the event Ben and a couple of his mates tried to squeeze in my car. This wasn’t going to happen as we were already full to capacity. Ben managed to get into a hilarious state, and we waved goodbye to my old friend. As we drove off we saw him vomiting in a quiet corner.
Later that night I was booked to play the official Shakedown after party at the Honey Club. There were a few hours to kill between sets, so a group of 8 of us went for Thai at a restaurant Tristan recommended in Kemp Town, Brighton. The owner kindly kept the place open later than usual before we headed down to the Honey Club, where my set was at 1am. On arrival at the club it was a little bit quiet, but as people made their way over from the festival ground (which is the other side of Brighton) the place got heaving and bounced nicely. I left the club immediately after my set, heading up to Gatwick for a 5:45am Easyjet flight to Ibiza for the closing party of Judgement Sundays.
With the Pound at its weakest in years, unprecedented competition, and a very shaky outlook to the global economy we have had to work harder than ever, not only to make Judgement Sundays good value for money but a true night to remember. With great attention to detail, 2011 was one of our strongest seasons to date. The line up for the closing party was massive, including Eddie Halliwell, Simon Patterson, Tristan D, Howard Donald (and of course me).
I was joined at the club by some of my old school friends. It was their first trip to Ibiza and their wide-eyed amazement at the island’s magic took me on a trip down memory lane back to my first visit to Ibiza roughly 20 years ago. It was the busiest closing party Judgement has ever had, which says it all. I can’t list everybody I’d like to thank for the season in this short column, but my biggest thanks go out to you guys for making 2011 another spectacular year.
Thursday 22nd September was the start of the Student Freshers’ season. It’s always a nice buffer at the end of a summer in Ibiza to know I’m going be travelling the length of Britain playing student events for 4-6 weeks in late September and October. On Thursday 22nd I headed to Liquid & Envy in Portsmouth. For UK DJs, the student market is bigger than ever – I was chatting to a booking agent for some of the Radio 1 daytime presenters and he commented that there’s never been such a packed schedule of student events around the beginning of term time. The club was absolutely rammed – a Thursday night that felt more like peak time on a Saturday.
The next outing was on Saturday night to SYN in Derby. Since the demise of legendary night ‘Progress’ about 10 years ago, Derby has (as far as I’m aware) somewhat fallen off the map for promoters and DJs. I’ve got some amazing memories from the city, and was naturally happy to return after a long while. SYN was the first club outside of Judgement in Ibiza in which I played a complete set using memory sticks on Pioneer CDJ2000s. Once again, the way we DJ has been revolutionised. You can carry your entire set into the club on a tiny 16 gig memory key, although for now I’m still bringing my CDs as back-up, in case of disaster. The club was packed and can’t wait for a return visit to Derby.
The next day felt very strange. I jetted off to Ibiza for the closing party of Eden in San Antonio (the club’s seasonal closing, as opposed to my night Judgement Sundays, which had closed a week earlier). Unlike other summer Sundays, when I fly directly to Ibiza at the crack of dawn on a Sunday morning, I flew from London Gatwick on an evening BA flight. This meant I could spend an extra few hours at home in London for my daughter Phoebe’s 7th birthday at a pony centre near the M25.
In Ibiza, I played just one ‘pre party’ around 11pm at Ibiza rocks bar (for Judgement I’m used to doing 5), then heading home for a sleep before my set. It was a strange luxury and I didn’t know what to do with myself. Mauro Picotto, Claudia Cazacu and The Squatters were also on the line up. I played after Mauro, and Alex from the Squatters joined me on stage. He said he hadn’t heard his tracks in a big trancey arena, so I played a montage of Squatters tunes, which put a huge smile on his face. The club had a very different feel to the Judgement closing party a week beforehand. The next day, Amanda and I had lunch at our favorite restaurant before heading home to London.
Did you make it out to Ibiza this year? If so tell me what you thought of Judgement Sundays, is there anything or any DJ you’d like to see in Summer 2012 or any improvement we can make? Let me know, email@example.com
More next time…