Iconic DJ, producer and true legend of the East London scene Hannah Holland has joined forces with prolific photographer, videographer and DJ Cathal O’Brien to create a new club night which is sure to send ripples through the gay clubbing scene. Having seen through thirteen years of parties together, the friends and artistic collaborators are no stranger to putting on innovative club nights, and their latest project is Club Vada. They caught up to chat about early club experiences, their history, and the inspiration for Club Vada!
Hannah: When it came to the inspiration for my own parties, the club that really blew my mind was Nag Nag Nag, at (former) The Ghetto. That’s where you would meet some very interesting club kids – I guess it was the era’s Taboo club. There was also Bodyrockers at Cynthia’s Robot Bar, with a music fusion of Detroit electro, techno, house and punk. Metalheadz at The Blue Note, was next level, pure energy and bass, with a proper mixed bag of London music lovers.
Nag Nag Nag
Cathal:I loved Nag Nag Nag and other infamous London club nights with strict door whores and strong looks – I remember you had to get past Cormac on the door in his Air force Pilot jumpsuit first – I remember thinking it was like the scene filmed at Danceteria from Desperately Seeking Susan.
Hannah:Boys AND girls mixed, with a common motive for the music, the vibe and the people. It was very creative. One thing that I find sad now is many gay clubs are 90% men, obviously there’s a desire/need for that in gay clubland, but Dalston Superstore is a great space for both to unite. Thats definitely something that’s always been very important to me – at clubs I’ve been involved in, people come from all different walks of life and genders, with the right attitude.
Cathal:Characters you mention like Steve Strange, Leigh Bowery, Jeffery Hinton, Marilyn, Princess Julia showed us it is possible to have this life, to have a story, to have a community to contribute to and maintain. And they look great! This amazing history needs to be fostered – there are stories that need to be passed down and heard! I think that’s something we both want to facilitate right?
Hannah: Absolutely. They are important moments in underground London, and I love the fact that it’s a talented artist like yourself recording, often it’s only the press version that gets told.
Cathal: My heroes are artists who also ran there own club spaces and were involved with nightlife, Basquiat with his band Gray at Area, John Sex, Kenny Scharf and Keith Haring at Club 57 – all peddling their own flyers and fanzines, transforming the spaces, getting their work seen immediately by an audience. I’ve really enjoyed pulling the artwork together for Club Vada. – its a no brainer to run a night where you have your work/ films playing on the walls, branding the night, designing flyers – its all curation to me. Hannah, what made you start doing parties ?
“After a few years of being resident of the infamous TRAILER TRASH (co-promoted by Superstore owner Matt Tucker, one of the clubs that kickstarted the Shoreditch scene mid 2000s), I met Mama, and joined forces to start Batty Bass along with Alex Noble. We really went to town with our imaginations. Mama came from a punk background, Alex’s art and my eclectic music focusing on bass, we mixed live vocals (and instruments sometimes) with DJ sets, Alex’s visual universe and built a loyal following. The party lasted about seven years, outgrew its spiritual home and went into warehouses. By that time we started to move out of London and back and we called it a day. It was still some of the most amazing times I’ve had as a promoter and DJ.
Cathal:Its your Batty Bass label’s ten year anniversary – how are you celebrating it?
Hannah:Yeah, the club started in 2006 and the record label soon after, we’re releasing music again after a little break and celebrating by getting the family back together in sound – Josh Caffe, Mama, The Carry Nation, Alex Noble and more. Cathal:Wicked !
Hannah: Has your work always been inspired by people you’ve met in these places?
Cathal: I primarily make portraits, photographically and in short film – I love the challenge of getting someone down on film in a way that they want to be seen and how I see them in that moment. I really returned to this thinking with the party i run with Bica, Clam Jam. Every week I took pictures of an amazing new breed of queer women – I’m archiving it all now. I want to make a book. I don’t think its evident how important this group of women are just yet, it’s a really exciting time and I felt a responsibility to record a part of it. I’m going to be taking photographs at Club Vada as well of course! I don’t want to miss it. I wanna see strong looks!
Hannah: One of my favourite places in the early 2000s was Sundays at The George and Dragon, with Jonjo Jury on the decks. He would expertly move through the very best of queer heritage. Can’t wait to have him work his magic upstairs for Vada. Also Elles is one of my favourite East End DJs right now, she has amazing taste and a great vibe.
Cathal:I can’t wait to have that ‘Lovely Jonjo’ element upstairs for the first Vada. I’ve always loved what Jonjo plays – from when he played at Trash to when I remember him playing Saint Etienne at the pre-refurbished Red Lion pub round the back of Hoxton Square.
Your tracks have consistently sampled gay icons who all made a big difference to the nightlife of their time. You’re releasing a new track – who have you sampled this time ? Does it have a name yet ?
Hannah:My new track is called Diva Bern and samples the diva legend that is Sandra Bernhard. I know we both love a bit of Sandra, I can get lost in her interviews on youtube for hours.
Cathal: Club Vada will be our London residency for both of us – our base – you’ve been playing a lot around Europe – You played at the now legendary ongoing club space Berghain – was that a goal from when you lived out there? How did you find it ?
Hannah:It was always my greatest dream to play there. I did face up to myself years ago, when I lived there, that it was never going to happen, and I was ok with that! Then… came the phone call. Put it this way, I’ve never been so excited or nervous in my life – for a good two month lead up. Couldn’t have asked for the gig to go better. Dear friends were there, we had an opening of the shutters moment… It was very intense. I also got to play in the garden with Cormac, another East End diamond, on another occasion, that was so much fun.
Cathal:So we’ve gone all Polari with the name of the night, I’ll let you explain how that came about Hannah.
Hannah:Vada comes from the gay London slang language Polari, I first heard it in a track by the The Weebles ft. Princess Julia called Moist Womanly Needs – “Vada girl, Vada”
Cathal:When you start looking into it you realise many of the slang words have trickled down into mainstream vernacular.
Hannah:Then Lavinia Co-op introduced me to it first though a really amazing show.
Cathal: I had heard about Lavinia originally related to New York and I have many questions myself, stories I want to hear – Lavinia has given me some prose which mixes Polari and cockney slang which I will put into in the fanzine we’re making to hand out – it all relates to the talk she is giving on the night.
Hannah:Lavinia has been through seventies gay liberation and been part of the fight to make it possible to have these nights and freedoms we all enjoy today.
She was around the time that gay people had their own language, not because of shows like Ru Pauls Drag Race, but because they had to! A secret code, Polari is a fascinating underground private slang, cockney rhyming for the queens. We’re honoured to have Lavinia do her show and have a chat with Max Allen before the party kicks off! Max will then be hosting the evening, and we will be screening the short film shot by Cathal that he stars in.
Club Vada will be all about lost in the music moments, we’ve got some quality DJs lined up for the rest of the year and next. For our launch I’ll be getting into the wormholes of house techno and beyond for a 5hr set.
Catch Hannah Holland and Cathal at the debut of Club Vada on Saturday 24 September from 9pm-3am at Dalston Superstore! Lavinia Co-op show and panel downstairs from 9pm.
London legend Princess Julia joins us this Saturday night for homosocial, Bender. From being part of the famed Blitz kids, to resident DJ at Kinky Gerlinky, Julia has gone from being at the centre of London’s underground scenes, to a leading fashion and gay icon in her own right. Ahead of the party she took Bender’s very own Martyn Fitzgerald through her personal dancefloor history…
So who christened you Princess Julia?
Oh that old chestnut! Well, I used to do the door at the Wag club back in… er, 1981, the manager Alan called me ‘Princess’ every evening I arrived to work. I imagine he called all the girls Princess in reality though! That’s where the idea came from but I didn’t call myself Princess Julia in the early 80s, that happened when I started DJing at the Daisy Chain at the Fridge in Brixton in 1986 which was run by Trindy Aurora (Jimmy Fox). Jeffrey Hinton and Mark Lawrence, were the resident dj’s and I used to do the warm up. One week for fun we thought we’d give ourselves ‘proper’ DJ names as we noticed all the ‘crucial’ DJs had tag names. So we renamed ourselves… Jeffrey Mmmmm (Taste Of Sugar), Mark ‘Fancy Pants’ Lawrence and I became Miss Princess Julia and it just kinda stuck drooping the ‘Miss’ bit though! It started as a piss take really. Daisy Chain was amazing by the way, we even had Eartha Kitt on there, Marc Almond, early days Take That along with go go boys, light shows and it happened every Tuesday!
So when did your clubbing career begin?
Which era would you like to start… mid-seventies? I’d go to gay clubs like Bang on a Monday night at the Sundown, 157 Charing Cross Road, which had a light up dance floor. The legendary Tallulah DJ’d there, total disco on a Monday night… we always called it hairdressing night, but I think that’s because I was a hairdresser at the time! Other clubs were Legends, Embassy Club (where Sylvester shot the Mighty Real video) on a Sunday night. In ’78 Club For Heroes started at Billy’s, it was the beginning of the New Romantic era, it soon moved to the Blitz and later we became known as the Blitz Kids.
By Nicola Tyson (1978)
But in my earlier days of clubbing I’d go to punk clubs and gigs and then of course gay discos such as the Sombrero situated on Kensington High Street, Louise’s, and bars and clubs in Earls Court such as Boltons, even the Coleherne… even though it was ‘men only’ leather man pub. In the early ’80s and after the Blitz finished I did the door as a cashier lady of the newly opened Wag club that was run by Chris Sullivan and opened in 1981. It was integral for bringing through new music of the time. There were break dancing competitions and performers, as well as legendary DJ’s who still DJ today such as Fat Tony! I remember Sade doing an early gig down there and of course house band Blue Rondo A La Turk. It was very community based in a way. I started playing at fashion designer Steven Linard’s club Total Fashion Victims in 1982. The Wag was seminal and I regularly worked at the rare groove night Black Market that René and Barrie K Sharpe ran. René also owned the record shop by the same name whilst being a hairdresser for Bananarama. As a testament to the Wag it lasted for over twenty years and was one of the gateways to the clubbing scene we have today.
And what kind of music were you playing when you first DJ’d?
A mixture of hi-NRG, disco and the ‘house’ that was just beginning to come through. This was at the Daisy Chain at The Fridge in Brixton with Mark Lawrence and Jeffrey Hinton were very inventive and used to pre-mix cassette tapes overdubbed with sound effects. Technology was limited in those days; we only played from vinyl, so the idea of having these custom made cassette tapes spliced together was totally cutting edge.
But the DJing really took off for you?
Yeah, it did. I didn’t really do it officially until ’86. There was an idea of the ‘bedroom DJ’. Back then there were no laws around sampling so everyone was making their own records. I used to go to Black Market and Groove Records and of course the Trax record shop owned by affectionately named Tricky Dicky in Soho to get hold of the US and European imports that were coming in from Strictly Rhythm, Trax and our own home grown labels. To me they were disco with a twist and because they were so lo-fi, they a had real DIY element, some were pressed on recycled plastic and were so cranky that really added to their charm. There was this idea of making your own records where you get a dubplate pressed and go DJ with it a few times before they became worn out. We could produce our own music which was totally new, we all became vinyl train spotters. Jeffrey (Hinton) had a little four track (I lived with him and Stephen Jones the milliner at this time) and he’d record everything on cassette tapes and splice up the tapes and sellotape them back together. The ‘Summer of Love’ arrived around this time. Newcomers to the London club scene were good at branding themselves and they started to book me for their parties both in London and across the UK which weren’t strictly gay although there was some cross over. Because of the nature of ‘house’ and its roots in the US, clubs like Shelter, The Paradise Garage, the Sound Factory, DJ’s like Larry Levan, Masters At Work and Frankie Knuckles… to the guys on the straight scene over here these people were gods and rightly so. The straight scene here really looked to the gay scene over in the USA for inspiration. Somehow my DJ career took off, much to my amusement, and I was a regular at Ministry of Sound playing with many of the legendary DJ’s of the day.
So how did ‘house’ arrive over here? Was it this explosion of a new sound?
No not really. I remember in ’86 me and Kate Garner going to Fred’s in Soho, a tiny basement space, it was a midweek night and we arrived to Frankie Knuckles playing! We both said, “This is the next big thing.” I mean, ‘house’ was akin to disco and used many samples from disco, Knuckles’ style was more soulful with a vocal gospel slant than the more brutal house sounds that were also being produced then. To me ‘house’ was another form of disco just put together in a more progressive fashion with the technology that was becoming available. It was easier to mix as well being produced digitally rather than early disco which was often produced in real time. House music gradually came through, no one who booked me would say they wanted house specifically. I’d play a mixture of disco, house and hi-NRG in those days.
By Mike Owen (1987)
So… Kinky Gerlinky. You were a resident. How did that come about and what was it like?
Oh right, so basically I was doing Daisy Chain and also I was resident DJ at Patrick Lilley’s Queer Nation with Luke Howard, we were the original DJ’s there at the Gardening Club. We did it on a Sunday night. We wanted to hone in on the more soulful and vocal side of house. We’d have guest PA’s: Barbara Tucker, Kym Mazelle, Ultra Nate, Candy J… this was the Ministry of Sound days so they’d have these names on the Saturday and they’d come to us on the Sunday. On bank holiday Sundays we’d have Norman Jay down and there was a door to the Hard Rock Café next door and we’d take that over too. Anyway, back to Kinky Gerlinky, around this time I worked in a shop called World with Martin Confusion and Roy Brown. We used to sell the Spectrum and Shoom merchandise and the owners Michael and Gerlinde Costiff, who were good friends with New York club promoter Susanne Bartsch, decided to do their own night. I think Bartsch’s influence was that it would be a ‘ball’ rather than a club night and they started Kinky Gerlinky at Legends. I was the resident with Martin Confusion and Rachel Auburn who used to also sell her clothes in the shop. It was a big success and we soon moved to the old Empire Leicester Square – which was HUGE. It was amazing. It was really cavernous but it had a rotating stage and a catwalk which was great for the ball angle. It really inspired people to do drag, the least likely people would rock up in drag… looking back maybe it wasn’t so unlikely.
At Kinky Gerlinky (1992)
And do you think this was a revival of the dressing up in the early 80’s? Was it a bit more dress down in the early house period?
Well there’s a timeline here for dressing up in London nightclubs. I would say it started with Punk, to Blitz and the New Romantic look, Cha Cha’s and things that went on in Heaven and the Soundshaft and onto Taboo. But the early ‘house’ scene over here as I said, was quite straight which we always thought funny given where it had come from… NYC’s gay discos! I mean there was Shoom, which was more inclusive and we integrated there, the whole dressing up thing at this time was also tied in with the Euro disco thing, you know, being on holiday in Ibiza. And then of course there was a great clubbing conversation with New York and clubs such as Danceteria and Area. A lot of people imagine the rave scene to be really dressed down but it wasn’t. You know, it was a very thought out look, if you look at The Face and i-D from there people planned their outfits. DM’s with the toe cut out, ‘hard times’ and rockabilly looks, the street style you found at Phillip Salon’s night the Mud Club which started in the early ’80s and carried on through the decade where everyone was dressed in their own individual style.
The rave scene in a sense brought in a casual but thought out approach to dressing. I did have a bit of a dressed down moment… briefly, my idea of dressing down was wearing trainers! But never for Kinky Gerlinky. The whole designer thing came in then too: tags and logo’s became a look of their own. When I worked in World in the late ’80s we’d stock MCM rip-off track suits and bum bags, the massive gold jewellery and stuff from NYC’s 14th Street mixed with original Keith Haring, Kenny Scharf, and London club t-shirts such as Schoom and Spectrum as well as our own brand World t-shirts. Neneh Cherry often borrowed stuff for her videos styled by Judy Blame mixing it all up with his own jewellry created from ‘ready mades’. It was all dress up, it was also Thatcher’s Britain so some people had a bit of money, and if they didn’t they could still customize their outfits.
By William Baker (early 00s)
London doesn’t really have those big nights with big personalities any more.
I disagree with you there, big clubs and events are hard, a lot of hard work to put on, but they do happen. Even if you do one every now and again, it’s hard. And as for personalities, well look around you, everyone you know is a personality, especially in our world. The ’90s was the era of the ‘superclub’, and I actually think there is more diversity now. Possibly because we’re better informed through social media and knowing what’s going on. Also the spaces have changed, they’re more multifunctional now. Places have to be ever more inventive. Look at the Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club, it’s brilliant. We’ve got very used to going to places where there’s a lot of colour: people dressing up, showing off, having a good time and that’s really infectious and inspiring. Look at Sink The Pink. Look at Dalston Superstore, itself which is really a landmark for clubbing, with a bar upstairs that is also a restaurant, a disco downstairs, an art gallery and in a lo-fi sort of way, a performance space with people getting up on the bar and do PA’s which is charming. The George & Dragon, which even though is fundamentally a pub has different DJ’s every night of the week, let us not forget Radio Egypt which started at the George & Dragon on a Sunday night with Jonny Woo and Jonjo Jury DJing, which really set a precedent for the reemergence of the East End gay scene as we know it, and that was ten years ago. Things are really flourishing with new places opening and creating further outlets for self expression.
You still go out a lot…
Well, I have this thing of not wanting to miss out although I can’t go everywhere, thankfully I keep tabs on things through social media. Having said that there’s nothing like experiencing nightclubbing in the real world. There’s also that thing of not knowing where the night’s going to end, who I’m going to meet; it’s an adventure. One thing I love about clubbing is that you get people from all walks of life and I think that’s even more important now: bringing different people together.
By Louie Banks (2014)
Who have you met who you’re really loved (or hated!). Who’s inspired you?
Ooh, well there’s a checklist of people who have inspired in regards to the way we club. Phillip Salon who encouraged people to explore their own creativity and give them a bit of confidence to do that. Leigh Bowery obviously, who arrived in London in the early ’80s quickly became instated in both club land and the music and art scenes. When he died he was really on the precipice of doing so much more amazing explorations. Thankfully we do have his legacy. Then there the people behind clubs I find inspiring, people like Wayne Shires who pulls things together and organises the most amazing events, I’m very inspired by his passion for clubbing. He’s been running clubs since the late ’80s and has been so prolific, I used to DJ at many of his club nights including SEX at the Cafe de Paris, Monster at Substation, through to the present day at East Bloc. He makes things happen and I think that’s a great talent. Dan Beaumont, I remember talking to him at that bar he had in Islington (the Warwick) when I used to drop off a fanzine I used to make, he was very passionate about what he wanted the space to be. That was the precursor to Superstore I guess. Then there’s a whole new generation of DJ’s and club promoters, including yourself Martyn, who are continually pushing and exploring club life to its full potential.
Join Princess Julia this Saturday 27th October for Bender from 9pm – 4am at Dalston Superstore.
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.
With the next Bender rapidly approaching this Saturday, special guest and local legend Pete Herbert sent us this mini-mix for a little taste of what to expect in the laser basement…
Damien Uzabiaga – Corny Aint Sweet (Pete Herbert remix) [Vicey Loops] Alphabet City – Colder Boogie (Pete Herbert Remix) [Maxi Discs] Situation – Secrets (Pete Herbert Dub) [Nang] Susoul – Cosmic Theatre (Pete Herbert Remix) [Blue Dye] Jad Lee – Down To Party (Pete Herbert version) [ Maxi Discs] Montero – Pushin On (Pete Herbert remix) [Montero]
Read our interview with Pete from last week about balearic records, his former life running a record store and his record label Maxi Discs.
Join Pete on Saturday 28th September for Bender at Dalston Superstore from 9pm – 4am.
Former record store proprietor, long-time DJ and producer Pete Herbert joins us for another edition of Bender. He’s joined in the basement by Guy Williams, whilst upstairs Bender resident C*nt Mix Wont Mix and the inimitable Princess Julia bring the ultimate in camp.
In between running the Maxi Discs record label with Dicky Trisco, Pete has found time to record under a number of different aliases including LSB, Reverso 68, Frontera, Challenge and his own name. Not to mention DJing all over London and beyond and hosting his own radio show Music For Swimming Pools on Sonica FM Ibiza.
We caught up with him to find out what’s made him such a London legend and what we can expect from his set at Bender…
What three elements, in your experience, does a successful record store need to have?
Great records, non egotistical staff, and a good selection of tea and biscuits.
What one balearic record would you say has had the biggest influence on your career?
Lupo – Hell or Heaven… this track sounds even more relevant now to me than it did 20 odd years ago. Never got bored of it… and still haven’t heard a track quite like it..
If you could go back in time to any dancefloor anywhere and anywhere, where would we be setting the dials to?
My first clubbing experience at The Wag circa 88. Think it was Tim Simenon, Fat Tony and Paul Guntrip on the decks… We didn’t want the night to end!
What made your Soho shop Atlas Records so infamous?
Great records, non egotistical staff, and a good selection of tea and biscuits.
If your house was on fire and you could only rescue one record from imminent melting, which would it be?
Talking Heads – Burning Down the House
How do you maintain a tropical balearic vibe all year round in a place like London?
Move to Bali for the winter…
How did you come to meet your Maxi Discs label co-founder Dicky Trisco?
He invited me to play at Autodisco, his night in Dundee, and we got on like a house on fire, excuse the pun. And it went from there.
What’s your most listened to/played out record on the label?
I’m happy to say all the releases have been well received so far. But maybe our most prolific guest artist on the label, Marius Vareid from Norway, has always nailed the kind of sound we’ve been looking for, and I still haven’t got tired of playing his records. This, our first release, set the ball rolling sound-wise for us….
You’ve had quite a few different aliases over the years- which are you most proud of and why?
The aliases were more about different collaborations at the time with friends, and have all been equally pleasurable to get involved in. With LSB which I did with Baby G, we were really making quite dance floor Italo-esque tunes along the lines of what we were playing out at that time. The Challenge project with Tim Paris was a bit more experimental and about trying to meet in the middle of our musical tastes. And with Phil Mison for Reverso 68 and Frontera, it was about making it down the pub as early as possible after a studio session…
How do you intend to set the Bender dancefloor alight in the Dalston Superstore laser basement?
At Dalston Superstore I intend to play something old, new or borrowed… in a club style… along these lines…
Nadia Ksaiba -Virtual Lover
Marius – Discomagnifique (Pete Herbert remix)
Tim Paris feat. Georg Levin – Golden Ratio (John Tejada remix)
Michael Mayer – Good Times
Mopedbart – Hubbabubbaklubb
Join Pete at Bender on Saturday 28th September from 9pm – 4am at Dalston Superstore.
That fallen angel of the north DJ Paulette joins us at our bank holiday Sunday Service for Sister Pantychrist! She joins a long list of ex-nuns at Dalston Superstore, including Nimmo & The Gauntletts, Cathal, Elena Colombi, Bisoux, Squeaky and Elma Wolf who between them all will keep your praying for the party to never end.
As one of the residents at seminal gay Manchester night Flesh, like her former cohorts Dave Kendrick, Princess Julia and Guy Williams among others, Paulette has since gone on to be a successful DJ, at Ministry Of Sound, across Ibiza with her own Bang parties, and even as a presenter on the radio and TV. We quizzed her on her past, present and future in dance…
You were a resident at the legendary Hacienda- what is your favourite memory from that time?
From Murray & Vern’s fashion shows where my lilac pearlised rubber catsuit split just as I started some complicated choreography involving lots of bending on the runway, to start to finish marathon all night disco, soul and house vinyl sets on a guerilla Technics set up in the sweatiest, sleaziest basement – I have so many happy memories.
If I have to choose, then it’s a toss up between being shown how best to beat match by clapping along to the track by Princess Julia in the Gay Traitor Bar, or by being watched doing a showstopping lip synch to Donna Summer’s ‘I Feel Love’ (Masters At Work remix) by James Horrocks and Thomas Foley of React Records and then being asked to DJ at their ‘Garage’ night (alongside Steven Sharp, Rachel Auburn and Princess Julia) which was then held at Heaven on Friday nights.
What made Flesh such an important and still referenced party?
It was the mix of everything and everyone that made it so special. From flyer design to party themes to DJs and performers and most of all the fervent, loyal clubbers. Paul Cons and Lucy Scher put every effort into creating an unforgettable party and an ambiance that was unparalleled in clubland. Flesh was simultaneously a super stylish, uber-hedonistic, monthly mid-week party for music loving lesbians, gays and their friends at one of the best clubs in the world. All the DJs, artists and promoters involved were the best in their field and have gone on to do such fabulous things since – Tim Lennox, Dave Kendrick, Kath Mc Dermott, Guy Williams and myself.
Why is Manchester such as fertile place for music?
It’s in the blood. And because it rains so much? You can’t go wrong with that combination.
You’re now based in France- what precipitated that move? Life changes or were you attracted to the music scene over there?
Ha ha, I was based in France for nearly nine years but I’ve moved again. I am now based in Ibiza! The move was prompted because I wanted to get more involved musically and clubwise in the deep house scene, and the opportunities and contacts I was seeking are more easily found and connected to here. There has also a major personal change in my life which tipped the balance and since I didn’t like the direction Parisian/French life was taking I decided it was a good time to hang up my Parisian beret and don a sombrero for the foreseeable future.
What makes Paulette go “Bang” so to speak?
A bumping beat, a funky, phat bassline and a sexy lover. Oh and the always tricky combination of high heels and wide legged pants…
You’ve expressed your desire to have a proper radio show… who would have as your first guest on your new dream show and why?
Good question. I would love to have a Prince and Stevie Wonder sandwich. Their knowledge, talent, experience and music is timeless and unparalleled. Without them my music collection would have a humungous hole.
Where is your favourite dancefloor in the world for atmosphere, crowd, soundsystem, outfits, dancing skills- the full works!
Strangely there is no one club that covers all these bases for me. My favourite dancefloors are Showcase in Paris or DC10 in Ibiza. My favourite soundsystem is the small room in DC10 (the big room is way too loud – so loud that it knocked my watch out of whack for over a week. Cartiers so rarely lose time and it stopped it stone dead.) I love 4 Elements in Paris where I do my Bang night as the atmosphere is always festive. Outfits? Hmmmm – believe it or not I don’t really think of dress when I go to a club. It’s not that important to me.
What are your summer Ibiza plans?
My summer Ibiza plans are just taking shape now. I have the opening party of Privilege on June 7th – playing in the Vista Club in a back to back with Iban Mendoza, and in warm up to Jaymo and Andy George – all of whom I LOVE! Then I have a few dates as resident in the Vista Club, boat parties for Smartie Party and a few dates at KM5 already lined up. I am in negotiations also with Hed Kandi to play a few dates at their residency at Hotel Santos in Playa D’En Bossa.
You’re playing at Sister Pantychrist as our fallen angel special guest. What’s the most Good Samaritanesque heavenly act you’ve ever committed?
I do try to do at least one Good Samaritanesque deed every day and I am very much someone who facilitates introductions and connections. We drove some friends home to Talamanca yesterday when their car broke down on our drive – it’s the other side of the island to where we live. Recently though I went to excessive lengths to get one of my nephew’s a job in Leeds when he started his university course and pulled every string possible to get another one of my nephews a Montpellier football strip for his birthday. Oh and I sneakily let our cat Luna eat Bubu’s (our other cat’s) breakfast this morning though. She looked hungrier…
What will you play to take the Superstore dancefloor to celestial heights?
Jaymo & Andy George – Remember – Moda Black
Dansson & Marlon Hoffstadt – Shake That – Play It Down
Benoit & Sergio – $100 Bill – Hot Creations
Stefano Ritteri – Nothing Stays The Same – Defected
Join DJ Paulette on Sunday 26th May at Dalston Superstore for Sister Pantychrist from 9pm – 4:30am.
Sunday sees a special pop-up London Fashion Week party takeover Dalston Superstore. Club Dimanche, set up and hosted by Konstantinos Menelaou and Michelle Arnusch, plays host to some of the hottest names in fashion from Marios Schwab to Aqua by Aqua. RSVP will be required for this fabulous party and they’re only asking for a suggested donation of £3 on the door that will go straight into the pockets of housing and homelessness charity, Shelter. We caught up with both Michelle and Konstantinos to find out more ahead of the party…
What led to you deciding to set up Club Dimanche?
We just wanted to have a good party and we liked the idea of the designers and talent all DJing together.
We were very inspired by the different services they offer and we wanted to contribute. We both regularly talk to homeless people around our areas to try to get to know them and help them out where we can. One thing we both realized is that there are a lot of misconceptions around homeless people and the reasons they ended up where they are – kids who were facing abuse at home etc. The stories are all so different you can really see how easy it is for someone to face these troubles. It’s also heartbreaking to hear how much abuse they get on the streets, verbally, physically etc. If any charity is trying to help them we are all for it.
And why do you feel it is important to establish a strong connection between fashion events and charities like Shelter?
It’s such a huge industry and has so much to offer so why not direct that towards people who really need some help.
How did you chose which fashion luminaries would be DJing?
We just asked our friends.
What kind of music can we expect?
Different flavours of super dance!
How does Club Dimanche differentiate from the other parties taking place during LFW?
Different designers, stylists and musicians all DJing together for charity.
Who on your lineup are you looking forward to seeing for whatever reason?
All of them of course.
What one track epitomises what you’re aiming for with Club Dimanche?
Anything by Prince And The Revolution.
What will you be wearing?
Michelle: Belle Sauvage by Chris Neuman and Virginia Ferreira.
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