With MEGA NANCY’S round two to celebrate the end of Ego Rodriguez amazing solo show MACHO coming this Friday we’ve got a VERY special giveaway in honour of the artist! Not only can you dance to the sounds of Jim Stanton, Hifi Sean, Jeffrey Hinton and Pep Sanchez, but you can also win a limited edition print from the ’70s influenced MACHO show!
For your chance to win a print email the correct answer to firstname.lastname@example.org with the email subject “I’m a Macho Man.” by 10am Friday 8th August.
What is the inspiration behind MACHO?
b. Physique Pictorial
c. Readers Wives
Join us this Friday 8th August for Mega Nancy’s with Jim Stanton, Hifi Sean, Jeffrey Hinton and Pep Sanchez from 9pm – 3am.
Wayne Shires has been at the forefront of London’s underground queer culture for several decades. From the best acid house warehouse parties in ’89 through to legendary dance floors like Substation, Bar Industria, Crash, Area, The Cock and his current baby East Bloc. He’s also been busy preparing for this weekend’s massive Summer Rites festival. Superstore’s Dan Beaumont caught up with him for a cuppa.
Can you please explain the compulsion to throw parties and open venues?
I think it must be some form of masochism. It can be really tortuous but at the same time it can be very euphoric and satisfying and rewarding when you get to that point where you see people enjoying themselves, and you’re the one who’s created it. It’s not a vanity project. I just really enjoy people having a good time. I’ve always liked putting on a party.
You started putting on parties during the acid house era?
The very first party I put on was a Sunday night at what used to be called The Apollo, which was a rent boy bar in Soho, which turned into The Brain run by Sean McLusky [legendary London music promoter- Dan] and later become Trash Palace on Wardour street. I’ve been going to clubs since I was about sixteen – I met Princess Julia around then. I used to go to Heaven, Subway. Lasers on Green Lanes, Bolts.
I started going out in clubbing London and then I moved to America and had a had a stint there hitting the clubs. When I got back, there were warehouse parties and people were taking ecstasy, but there wasn’t really the music.
We used to go to Ibiza every summer. One year we went to Amnesia, I remember turning round and thinking “who are these people in shorts and smiley T-shirts, and what’s this music they’re dancing to? And they’re all off their heads!”
That’s when I met Terry Farley and Danny & Jenni Rampling. Jenni said, “We love you guys, you have to come to our club Shoom when you get back to London.”
I remember the first time I went to Shoom I wore jeans and a shirt.
Next week in dungarees and smiley T-shirt?
Dungarees, smiley T-shirst and little round glasses. I dived straight into it – this was ’88.
And the Boys Own parties, East Grinsted – the famous one – the one down on the lake. That party was like the Sex Pistols gig at the 100 club. Everyone says they were there but they weren’t! I was there. I can tell you who was there. We were going to all that and I was then going back into ‘gay world’ and thinking “gays would love this.”
We used to go to a club called Queens on a Sunday afternoon run by Phil Perry and we were like the little gang of gays, about five of us – the token gays – but they adored us. Suddenly I was hanging out with football terrace boys, Chelsea fans, and they were all pilled up and loved up and very accepting. I just thought it would be really good to put on a party where that lot met my lot and we just kind of merged it.
The first party (getting back to your original question!) was a Sunday night at the Apollo. We wanted somewhere on a Sunday and the Apollo really unusually had a 5 o’clock license on a Sunday. This was ‘89. So we did a party there called ‘Eclipse’ that both Phil Perry and Danny Rampling played at plus a budding DJ who used to badger me all the time called Ashley Beedle. I gave him his first gig!
And then you went on to do warehouse parties?
There was an arts space called The Diorama which is at the back of Regents Park Crescent and it’s a really beautiful hexagonal art space. There would be art happenings there and exhibitions. We hired it. It had ridiculous restrictions like you weren’t allowed to sell alcohol so you had to include it in the ticket price. It only went on til 2AM. When we did the first one there was this old guy who used to be the caretaker and actually lived upstairs in this room with an Alsatian dog. We were getting the stock in on the first one and he said “oh Red Stripe – my favourite drink” and we went “do you want a case” So we gave him a case.
Later on it got to 2AM and he was by the bar loving it and he said “Just go on.”
So we carried on til six in the morning. We got away with doing those monthly for about two years.
Were they gay parties?
They were mixed. We had Kinky Gerlinky drag queens with Terry Farley, and we merged the whole thing. That’s when we started integrating people like Princess Julia and all those DJs in with the West London house DJs. You’d have drag queens dancing next to Chelsea boys.
Was your first foray into venue owning Substation?
I had one before that called Bar Industria which was off Regent Street. Fat Tony did a night called ‘Abba’ on a Tuesday. Linda Evangalista DJing, stuff like that. I went up to her and said “Can I get you a drink?”
She said “Yeah bottle of tequila.”
Are we in the ‘90s now?
So this is supermodels and glam house?
Basically. George Michael used to come. It was fun. That only lasted a year and then we did Substation. Everything I’ve ever done has been inspired by a two year period when I lived in America. Every reference I have ever used is from that. So Bar Industria was Boy Bar, so it was very light, trophies on the wall, table football, checkerboard vinyl flooring, kind of a boys club. Very municipal, like a working men’s club. So there was that and then we went on to do Substation, which was Stallions before, and then became Ghetto after. We were there for five years. That was kind of Anvil/Mineshaft New York. Oil drums, chain link fencing, gay porn vodeo shoot style.
I remember pop videos being shot there?
Yeah quite a few.
I was hanging out in New York a lot at the time, hanging out with Rob di Stefano from Tribal Records and met Danny Tenaglia through him. I did a party for them down at what become the original XXL venue. Danny used to play Substation when he was in town. It was quite a special time, really.
Then we did Substation South in Brixton, which was a sort of South London version of the Soho one and you’d get away with a lot more there! That was Queer Nation’s home for many years. And it suited it and was perfect.
And then you invented Vauxhall?
I don’t know if I want to be credited for that right now! Substation moved to a bigger space on Dean Street – high ceilings, 600 capacity, we had it for about two years. When we were in the original venue you could open Monday Tuesday, Wednesday with like a hundred people in and it would look great. But the Dean Street venue needed like four hundred people in it and we couldn’t do that Monday to Thursday. We survived there for about two years. We had a lot of shit from the police. They would turn up and there would be a sea of boys with their shirts off and they would say “Your license says people need to be properly attired, tell them to put their shirts back on.”
I would stand at the door arguing with the police saying “You go and tell ’em to put their shirts back on!”
I got taken to court! Basically one Friday night we got a visit from the club squad. About five of them turned up in trench coats– it was all very bizarre. And they came in and said, “Can we just walk around?”
So we walked through the back way and literally as we turned into the dance floor this guy dropped to his knees and started sucking this other guy off!
I just whacked him round the back of the head and said “Security! Throw them out! And if they have memberships, take it off them!”
We all carried on walking and when we reached reception the police turned around and said “Mr Shires you are not obliged to say anything…”
I was done for running a disorderly house and ended up at the magistrate’s court. My business partner at the time had grief from the police for years. He wasn’t having any of it so he got the best barristers and we got it thrown out.
Substation South was running and Lambeth police had a lot more to deal with and were quite happy that there was a safe place the gays were going and had a different attitude. So I loved Lambeth and I suddenly started working really proactively with Lambeth police and the council.
When a railway arch came up in Vauxhall I opened Crash. Which was my version of Tunnel. So that’s the next New York reference.
And that was the first club in Vauxhall?
Yeah you had the Royal Vauxhall Tavern and the Market Tavern, which was a pub in the Nine Elms tower which was great. That was really cool, but it wasn’t a club per se. It was a pub for the traders of Covent Garden Market so it had one of those weird licenses. At one point they used to have an after hours there but you had to buy a bunch of flowers to go in!
Hang on. You were worried about being able to fill Substation in Dean Street so why did you take a massive railway arch in Vauxhall?
Substation South was doing incredibly well and that only held 350/400, it was rammed. Also I knew South London would be a lot more accommodating and Vauxhall was literally on the border – the closest you could get to the West End and the West End was the place to be. Heaven was there, all the gay bars were there. There was nothing East really. I wanted that big superclub! I wanted it to be really underground, I wanted the music to be cutting edge. We were very much into Tribal and Twisted. I was living with Tom Stephan and he was the main DJ from Substsion so it was a platform for his sound. It was all Murk, Tenaglia, it was that whole sound.
Give me one legendary night at Crash. What sticks out in your memory?
Yoko Ono performing.
Yeah. I mean getting a phonecall in the office going “Yoko wants to perform in your club but you can’t announce it.”
It was quite special.
How do you feel about Vauxhall now?
It’s a shame. At one point when I had Crash and we had been open a few years, The Eagle (Horse Meat Disco’s home) had been taken over by Mark Oakley and Paul Wilde. And there was the RVT. So there was a bit of a gay village thing going on. We had meetings with the council to go up to Manchester to see the model of Canal Street. Lambeth were very interested in developing Vauxhall gay village with road signs, we were going to change the name of roads to names with gay references and there was this blossoming idea that we were going to turn it into the gay village. Then other people came into the area with a different game plan. Money driven. The atmosphere changed and it all broke up. At one point it was very ‘us and them’ with a club that opened up. They weren’t particularly nice; they were very spiteful, used dirty tactics and it fell apart. It lost its solidarity. Then I opened Area because I’m a sucker for punishment and I wanted a bigger club.
So you opened a giant club next door to your other giant club?
When that arch came up next door to my giant arch I thought it’s better for me to open up that giant arch than anyone else. I developed the model – everyone loved Crash and then all the arches were up for grabs.
So I opened the big club next to the big club, which was a struggle, but programme-wise it kind of worked for a couple of years, but always battling with the people I won’t mention. I made one or two bad business decisions and got involved with the enemy, and the enemy screwed me over. I thought, “I’m out of here.”
It’s a different place now
What made you get back on the saddle and start East Bloc?
I’d been a bit battered. I had enjoyed my career and what I had done. A lot of my mates had come East so I moved East. Julia and people were already living here and I bumped into Sean McLusky and he said “There’s a little club on City Road you should check out…”
I went and did a party there and it was just as I was selling Crash. The landlords said, “Do you want to buy it?”
I said, “No, I don’t want to buy a club.”
They said, “Why don’t you take a lease?”
I said, “Alright, I’ll have a go.”
Because I’m a masochist like we said at the beginning
Compared to the stress levels I’ve had in the past East Bloc is a walk in the park. It’s a lovely space to run, the crowd that come are lovely, the promoters are lovely, it’s a pleasure.
Why do you think clubs like East Bloc are important?
LGBT venues are important because there are so few and it’s really important for people to be themselves. That’s why Dalston Superstore is important. That’s why the Joiners is important. That’s why the George and Dragon is Important. That’s why The Eagle is important. There are thousands of venues in London but what venues can a boy walk in with a beard, covered in glitter, wearing a jockstrap dance on the bar in heels? It’s important we are a safe playground. What I remember growing up is that I loved going out and feeling part of a family. And I think it’s really important to help the legacy of what has come before, to go forward. People in East Bloc, the kids, they will become venue owners when me and you are way long on the tooth to be doing it. I think it’s important to show what is possible. It’s achievable isn’t it? A lot of people go “Oh my god how do you do this?”
I always thought that owning a venue was something other people did. Then something clicked and I realised it’s achievable. What do you think of the gay scene in London now?
It’s very fractured. You have the Vauxhall ‘good’ people, the bears. Soho is Soho. If a tourist came to London and said “Show me gay London!” and they wanted an overview of the scene I would struggle to find that big club that there used to be – like Heaven used to be. Or Crash was.
What for you is the ultimate London queer club?
Horse Meat Disco. Has to be. Totally.
Your relationship with Jim Stanton goes back to when you were running The Cock together?
Jim was my assistant! Eve we used to call her – Eve Harrington!
How did The Cock come about?
I was doing Crash, Jim was working in the office and I knew Simon Hobart from Popstarz who had just opened The Ghetto in my old space (The first Substation). Simon had a lesbian night on a Friday that wasn’t working and it kind of reminded me of the East Village. It was a bit alternative. Me and Jim went in there and we were sort of saying “There should be gogo boys in pants like The Cock in New York,”
We were trying to come up with the name and I think it was Jim who said, “Just call it The Cock.”
And I was like “OK.”
We had never worked together creatively on a project before and it just clicked.
Where did the musical identity come from?
That was more Jim. He’s got an incredible music taste. As have I! We’ve both got a very eclectic taste. Jim was very forward in that electro sound. I booked Tasty and Julia, Jim booked the Scissor Sisters. I remember fighting with the Ghetto about the name ‘The Cock.’ There were a lot of gay girls behind the bar and there was a protest before we started. Me and Jim were called in by Simon who told us we had to change the name. They thought we wanted to do a Men Only sex club.
Was Summer Rites, in its original incarnation, a reaction against Pride?
We got involved with Pride in ’92 when it was Europride. Pride was really exciting then and each year the attendance went up and the sponsorship got bigger and the events got bigger and the budget got bigger. It was free to get in and political and it was great. Very quickly over a five-year period it grew and it became a national thing – you’d have coaches coming from here, there and everywhere. One year we had to turn half of Clapham Common into a coach park. Londoners being Londoners had that kind of slightly snobbish thing going on. So Summer Rites was meant to be a Pride for London. And it was always meant to be representing all the different elements of the London club scene. We were taking all the politics away and we were just having a party for Londoners. A more niche, condensed party without the coaches and all that.
What made you resurrect it three years ago?
Because I’m mental and because I’m a masochist like I said at the beginning! The last one in the ‘90s we were hit by really bad weather. It had been baking all week and it was boiling hot and literally the morning of the day there was a torrential downpour. It has been so dry and it was on a hill so there were rivers coming down. I think we did eight or nine years in the end.
About four years ago I moved to Redchurch Street, Sean McLusky had his offices there and he said “I’m doing this festival called 1234 and you’ve got to come!”
I went with Julia and we had a great time. He spotted me and said “You should do the Sunday! You should bring back Summer Rites!”
I said, “No. I’m alright thank you.”
But because I live on that street and because he saw me going past his office he would come out and badger me.
You got doorstepped into starting a festival!
I got doorstepped by Sean McLusky into starting Summer Rites. It came back. Three years in Shoreditch Park which have been fun, but parks are too stressful because it can just piss down with rain and you’re screwed. Literally it’s the flip of a coin. You put all that effort and then and you’re sat there looking at the weather report. It’s life-changing if it rains.
If I want to buy you a drink this Saturday where can I find you?
You’ll probably find me in the cabaret room. But the whole venue is amazing. I got introduced to the Tobacco Dock at Winter Pride this year. And it’s undercover but feels outside so it’s amazing. It’s half indoors half outdoors. There’s a lot of daylight, there’s a lot of natural light and some big outdoor spaces. It’s beautiful. And it doesn’t matter of it’s pissing down with rain!
Join Wayne at Summer Rites at the Tobacco Dock this Saturday from noon, followed by Bender here at Dalston Superstore as one of the afterparties with special guest Den Haan from 9pm- 4am.
Easter is nearly upon us which means 4 full days of partying to plan! Here’s our guide to what’s happening here at Superstore…
THURSDAY 17th APRIL: Homoelectric! The London-cum-Manchester party collective host big Thursday and kindly provide your Good Friday hangover. With a DJ set from popstrel Little Boots in the basement alongside Jamie Bull, Luke Unabomber with the MenWhoFell2Earth top floor takeover. Join the Facebook event here.
FRIDAY 18th APRIL: Horse Meat Disco! It’s three of the residents- Jim Stanton, James Hillard and Luke Howard over both floors plus Nancy’s resident Fitzgerald in the house for a Good Friday Extravaganza. Join the Facebook event here.
SATURDAY 19th APRIL: Body Talk! DJ Rokk welcomes NYC legend Larry T and Beats International’s Lindy Layton to a special bank holiday edition his long-running party celebrating original house heroes. Join the Facebook event here.
SUNDAY 20th APRIL: Sister Pantychrist! The bank holiday Sunday girl-night to end all girls is BACK! And super-awesome DJs Smokin’ Jo and Lakuti will be treating the laser basement to all kinds of amazing house music plus SPC resident Cathal will be joined by Rokk in the top deck disco. Join the Facebook event here.
And we’ll be open for teas, coffees, brunch, sandwiches and hangover cures during all four days.
For those that don’t go out on school nights and for those who don’t all that often frequent south-of-the-river… We bring you Horse Meat Disco. On a Saturday. In Dalston. With all four residents. Over both floors. That’s right, you’ve got Jim Stanton, James Hillard, Luke Howard and of course Severino Making the trek north from their home at The Eagle in Vauxhall to have a one-night-stand with Dalston Superstore.
We caught up with Jim for a quick chat about all things Horse Meat ahead of tomorrow’s party…
In London, where nightlife options seem endless, what do you attribute your enduring success to?
We set up HMD as an attempt to side-step the obvious that was happening in clubland nine or ten years ago; a seeming pre-occupation of sex and drugs before music. And the party crowd, it was all a bit dark and soulless with a few notable exceptions. I guess we’ve just always tried to keep these things at the fore ie. GREAT MUSIC and the PEOPLE and I think once you have this in place the sex and whatever else follows!
The Eagle is a special place… What makes it so?
It is in the East Vauxhall side of things, an area known for frivolity and nightlife frippery, where the likes of Pepys could be found indulging their party requirements – the Lambeth Walk is across the road! It’s some kind of leyline here, really crazy.
We’re graced by all four of you this weekend… who is the biggest diva?
Me (Jim Stanton), hands up before we get into a handbag fight. HOWEVER we ALL have our moments trust me.
Who have been your most interesting guests so far this year?
There have been some absolute CRACKERS, most notably David Morales who played through a dizzying set comprising of all his musical stylings, Kenny Dope was legend and I guess Weatherall for me was a personal jaw-dropping highlight.
What three records do you associate most with HMD on a Sunday?
Sylvester – Mighty Real
Diana Ross – The Boss
Sheryl Lee Ralph – In The Evening
And finally, who is on the Horse Meat wishlist for 2013?
All four Horse Meat Disco residents join us over both floors this Saturday 24th November at Dalston Superstore from 9pm – 4am.
The Cock is one of those clubs that changed everything. Bravely coming to the rescue of the queer underground and helping to spawn something they called electroclash; The Cock (along with other discos like Nag Nag Nag, 21st Century Bodyrockers and Trash) shook up our perceptions of what we should be dancing to in the small hours with a heady mix of ‘80s synth noise, punk-funk out of New York City and new alien-sounding electronic music coming from Europe. Bringing a much needed rock ‘n’ roll aesthetic back to clubland, The Cock paved the way for much of what we now take for granted on East End dancefloors. For one night only she’s stepping out of cryogenic suspension down the road at XOYO so we spoke to founder Jim Stanton (now Horse Meat Disco megastar) about all things Cock!
What prompted you to start The Cock?
Wayne Shires*!!! I met him at Crash when I was working for Sleazenation and Jockey Slut magazines and he asked me to jump on board with Crash as it was expanding. We released compilation CDs and got lots of top guests at the club, Tenaglia, Yoko Ono, Derrick May etc etc! TOP CLUB! Our friend (now sadly departed) Simon Hobart** asked if we could fill the Friday night at the (also now gone) Ghetto club at Falconberg Court***. The rest was history – we robbed the name and all the references from our favourite New York dive bars and clubs. It was an upfront boys-y kind of raucous Friday night out. Musically we were both synth-loving kids, and I was working at Sleazenation at the time… those sorts of things were all the rage in 2002!
* Cock co-promoter, former founder of Crash, now owner of East Bloc
** The creator of seminal queer indie club Popstarz
*** Also home to the legendary Nag Nag Nag
How did you choose your original residents?
Easy. We picked Princess Julia and Tasty Tim because it was what they had been looking for – a way out of all the bland tech house going on at the time. They were playing for Wayne at Crash as well as other gay clubs around London at the time but The Cock offered them a chance to really indulge their real passions born from the days of the eighties at clubs like Taboo and Kinky Gerlinky.
What were your favourite live performances?
Too many to mention YR MUM YR DAD, Scissor Sisters, Hot Chip… So many!
Which London parties do you think are following in the footsteps of The Cock?
It was definitely a DIY aesthetic we had going on and it was very carefree. I think it really gave birth to TrailerTrash.
What are your craziest memories from The Cock?
I can’t remember anything at all! Bjork hiding in the coats in the cloakroom? I do remember it was very celeb-y but not in a wanky way – nobody gave a damn, it was just somewhere people went to throw down after a long week. Very special.
JIM’S TOP 5 COCK ANTHEMS
Seeleenluft – Manilla (Ewan Pearson mix)
Freeform Five – Perspex Sex (Ewan’s H-N-RG Mix)
Le Tigre – Deceptacon (DFA Mix)
LCD Soundsystem – Losing My Edge
Felix Da Housecat – Madame Hollywood (Tiga RMX)
The Cock’s 10 Year Anniversary Party takes place this Saturday 21st July at XOYO with Mark Moore, Princess Julia, DJ Rokk and Jim Stanton.
Photo credit: Kenny Campbell. For more of Kenny’s work visit kctv.co.uk
With Lovebox galloping ever closer, we thought it high time to catch up with the people behind the area housing our friends Horse Meat Disco at the festival, the NYC Downlow. Gideon Berger and Steve Gallagher, with their joint background in art direction and set building, are also the brains behind Glastonbury’s hedonistic after-hours playground, Block9. This year their efforts are solely focused on Victoria Park as Pilton lays low for 2012, meaning we can expect bigger and better and more flamboyant goings on with Glasgow’s notorious Optimo, Tim Sweeney of celebrated New York radio show Beats In Space and the legendary Andrew Weatherall joining the HMD boys in everyone’s favourite decaying New York tenement block transported to Hackney…
You both run Block9 at Glastonbury Festival, how did it come about and what was the motivation behind it?
Gideon: Block9 is the name of the set design partnership founded by Steve and me in 2007. We specialize in radical set and environment design. We’re based in East London and we design and produce artworks, installations and live events as well as television, film and stage sets. Before inheriting our own field at Glastonbury we had been doing a lot of festival work around the globe both as Block9 and solo in Japan (Fuji Rock), US (Burning Man) and Europe.
Steve:We created The NYC Downlow for Glastonbury 2007 as an answer to a gaping hole in the British festival scene. It’s a film-set replica of a ruined NYC tenement where the murky homo fantasies of The Downlow crew fuse to resurrect New York’s golden age. The exposed first floor apartment is an outdoor music and performance stage, playing host to the UK’s finest alternative cabaret stars. Having purchased a false moustache from the ‘Porn Kiosk’ (with proceeds going to charity) you make your way down a seedy back alley into a vintage New York gay club.
Did you both think it would become such a talking point and that you’d create this super-popular gay club in the middle of a field in the West Country?
Gideon and Steve: When the NYC Downlow first started it was kinda cobbled together… there were over 50 of us who were there in the mud. We had an inkling that it would really kick off, though we weren’t expecting that on the opening night we would have an instant queue of 300 people waiting to get in! In retrospect looking at the star-studded list of Downlow crew, performers and DJ’s present that first year, it is hardly surprising that it was so popular. Jonny Woo, Jon Sizzle, 9bob Rob, Jim Stanton, Le Gateaux Chocolat, Placid, Luke Howard, James Hillard, Suppository Spelling, Dr Noki, Severino, Foolish Felix… an amazing line up.
How did you guys become involved with Lovebox and what is it about the Sunday that makes it so special?
Gideon and Steve: Jim and James from Horse Meat had done a disco venue at Lovebox in 2006, which was the year before we built the NYC Downlow for Glastonbury. We all had a fucking ball that first year and the boys were keen to bring NYC Downlow to Lovebox as the spiritual home of Horse Meat Disco. They hooked us up with Tim, Jules and Rob from Lovebox and the rest is history. In answer to the “What makes Sunday so special?” question…. well it’s the fact that Sunday is all about the HOMO. And the NYC Downlow is built entirely around the HOMO… from the music, to the set and lighting design…come check it out and you will see.
Tell us a bit about what people can expect from NYC Downlow this year and what kind of effort goes in to building the area…
Gideon: The NYC Downlow takes a huge amount of effort to put together really. Shipping containers, cranes, telehandlers, scaffolders, thousands of self-adhesive moustaches, a New York taxicabs, trannies, booze, flashy lights, vintage gay porn, you know…that kinda thing! Stir it all together in Victoria Park, add the finest vintage disco and house and a little sunshine and hey presto – you’ve got yourself The NYC Downlow.
Steve: The Downlow this year features HORSE MEAT DISCO, ANDREW WEATHERALL, OPTIMO, TIM SWEENEY and some killer drag. This year we also have some seriously hot go-go boys too…watch out!
Was the www.thedownlowradio.com born out of a love of DJIng or just a natural progression from the festival work?
Gideon: www.thedownlowradio.com came about really because of two things. The first was that the NYC Downlow became so successful that people really wanted access to our DJ’s and music throughout the year. Through the NYC Dowlow festival venue we had built a network of underground homo DJ’s from all around the globe who were super keen to get involved. Our regular contributors include some giants like Horse Meat Disco, Greg Wilson, Danielli Baldelli, Hannah Holland, Digs and Whoosh, Joshua Iz and a huge amount of other DJ’s specializing in funk, soul, disco vintage house and reggae! I was regularly making mix tapes and CD’s for friends and I kinda thought that maybe hosting them online somewhere might be a good idea too. The success of Block9’s NYC Downlow plus my relatively large output of mixes kinda just added up to the radio. We had no idea it would become a HUGE thing. Thousands of people around the world listen to us every month. It’s the sound of the homo-funk-soul underground!
Steve: We help fund the radio by selling NYC Downlow merchandise from our online shop.
The NYC Downlow will be at Lovebox Festival in Victoria Park on Sunday 17th June with Horse Meat Disco, Andrew Weatherall, Tim Sweeney and Optimo. For tickets and further info visit: lovebox.net
Our friend James Baillie is known around these parts for his work programming Lovebox’s fantastic Sunday lineup – but he also has a serious acid house pedigree stretching back to his seminal club night Venus and beyond. He spoke to Superstore’s Dan Beaumont about formative years at the frontline of house culture and his plans for this years Lovebox Sunday…
Your club Venus has passed into acid house legend… what prompted you to start it?
I was doing clubs nights and acid house warehouse parties and other clubs before Venus. My first ever club night venture was back in 1985. Venus started in 1990 when the owners of the venue, which was then called The Club, approached me. The crowd then was footballers and I suppose WAGs. The owners had been following what I’d been doing around Nottingham so approached me to change the venue. I came up with the name Venus and got a load of my friends in to help put my stamp on the venue. It already had a good sound system that had been installed by Ian Levine (legendary Northern Soul DJ and Hi-NRG pioneer).
Its success didn’t happen over night – it took a few months to get it where I wanted it to be. The turning point was when I started to invite other club brands to do nights at Venus. These use to come on a Friday… Charlie Chester’s Flying, Justin Robertson’s Most Excellent, Steve Proctor’s Better Days, Sean MacCluskey’s Love Ranch, Dave Manders’ & Rosko’s Kinky Disco and the deep house pioneers DIY (who you had play at the DSS a few weeks back!) We were one of the only venues Danny Rampling put on a Shoom and I think Patrick Lilley’s High On Hope with Giles Peterson and Norman Jay.
One weekend I brought over from NYC the club night Jackie 60. People use to travel from far and wide. It was the club that help kick start the whole DJ culture as we know it today. It came at just the right time. The whole rave scene had gone lowest common denominator, seedy and overrun with gangsters. And I sat there thinking “Is that it?”
But when Venus came along it was just perfect. It was the place that bridged the gap between the north, south divide and brought the whole Balearic network together.
Who were your favourite DJs who have played there?
Andrew Weatherall, Slam, Angel Morales, Laurent Garnier, Danny Rampling, Bobby Konders, Todd Terry and one of my residents Paul Wain who was an outstanding DJ. He was spotted by Andrew Weatherall when he sent a chart into Boys Own. There was so many great DJ’s that graced the decks at Venus. I also use to book in some excellent live acts… Ten City, Saint Ettiene, The Grid, Flowered Up, A Man Called Adam… I could mention tonnes!
What was the thinking behind Lovebox’s Out and Out Fierce Sunday?
A heart attack after putting together Cable club which gave me some time to have a re-think on my future. Going to Lovebox Sunday 2009 and thinking Sunday could work as a gay/gay friendly day. I sold the concept/idea into the Mama group and they let me go away and develop the idea further. I did a lot of research and chatting to close friends who all said it was a no brainer… I can remember you, Dan, saying “Bastard, why didn’t I think of this?!” I wanted Sunday to be a celebration of everything gay and so far removed to what London Gay Pride was offering.
What is your ultimate Lovebox Sunday lineup (feel free to include deceased legends!)
The late Donna Summer, David Bowie, Bjork, Kraftwerk, Talking Heads, LCD Soundsystem, Fever Ray, Caribou, Yello, Giorgio Moroder, Pet Shop Boys. David Mancuso presents The Loft, House of Ladosha, DJ Harvey, Green Velvet… There’s a load of acts I would like to add in but it would only be me and a few friends that would turn up to see them!
You consume more music than anyone I know! Any hot tips for new bands?
There’s a lot of great new bands around at the moment, here’s a few… Churches, Night Angles, Warm Digits, Gold & Youth, Opossom, Stealing Sheep.
Current favourite dance labels?
Wurst, Permanent Vacation, In Plain Sight, Snuff Trax.
What bands/DJs will you be checking out at this Lovebox?
I don’t really get to see much as I’m usually back stage or running around all over the place. I will try and catch a bit of Niki And The Dove, Azari & III, Tim Sweeney, Optimo and Andrew Weatherall in the NYC Downlow and hopefully experience the whole disco explosion with Chic, Chaka Khan and finish off with Miss Grace Jones.
To limber-up for the always-amazing Lovebox Sunday come and dance with us on Friday 8th June at our Lovebox Sunday Warm-up.
We are very proud to welcome actual DJ legend Mr Andrew Weatherall into our basement along with Horse Meat Disco head honcho Jim Stanton, Superstore’s own Dan Beaumont, Dave Kendrick from Macho City, Jos Gibson from Dirtbox and Lovebox Sunday curator James Baillie.
If that wasn’t enough we will be raffling 2 pairs of Lovebox Sunday VIP tickets on the night!