My Claim To DJ Fame!
Unfortunately I was born after the peak of the Disco era, but you could say I am a Disco baby. Born in 1981 the same year Earth Wind & Fire would have a number 3 hit in the UK singles chart with their track “Let’s Groove”. A group that would be part of the soundtrack to my childhood, other artists I recall my parents playing were Stevie Wonder, D Train and Joyce Sims (I especially remember “Come Into My Life” being blasted out in my dad’s 7 series BMW that were all the rage in the early 80s).
The hospital I was born in was only a stone’s throw away from one of the best nightclubs in the country during the late 70s and early 80s. Flicks in Dartford opened at the tail end of 1978 and a local paper’s headline stated “Saturday Night Fever Comes To Dartford!”. The club was a pretty swanky affair compared to most venues outside of London’s West End, with what I am told by family members the club had an awesome sound system and queues to get in were always a mile long.
Soul Mafia members Chris Hill, Robbie Vincent and Jeff Young would have residencies at Flicks, and many big name artists would appear at the club, such as Maze, Patrice Rushen, Teena Marie and Tom Browne. Thursday nights at Flicks would also showcase emerging Brit-Funk bands, including Light of the World and Level 42 (By the time I was old enough to go to Flicks it had changed its name to Zen and Thursday nights were pretty naff).
Dance music legend Pete Tong MBE was also born in Dartford and early in his career was a DJ and promoter at two nightclubs just up the road from where I live now in West Kingsdown. First at the Kings Lodge and then moving venue to the Hill Top, where he was responsible for breaking classics such as Lonnie Liston Smith's "Expansions" and Ritchie Cole's "Groovin on a New York Afternoon”.
My DJ career (if you can call it that lol!) also began in West Kingsdown, when my parents built a clubhouse in our back garden and called it Club Tropicana (the reason being because drinks were free!). At the time I had a quad bike, but no where to ride it, so we sold it and brought my first set of CD decks, mixer and speakers. I was installed as the resident DJ for any family parties (and there were quite a few), where I would play mainly Disco, Jazz-Funk, Soul and dance anthems.
I had collected music from a young age, but it wasn't until I brought my first record deck that my vinyl collection really took off. The first Funky Classix I purchased on vinyl was “To Be In Love” by Masters At Work (which is just 12 minutes and 46 seconds of musical heaven).
After leaving school I started working in the print in London’s Docklands, and after finishing a nightshift on a Friday morning I would regularly travel over to the West End to go record buying. I found the record shops in SoHo quite rude and cliquey though. Then one of my uncle’s told me about City Sounds in Holborn where he used to buy records when he was young. The difference between Dave and the team at City Sounds and the West End shops was night and day, City Sounds also had pukka sound system too.
My parents and uncle have been a huge influence on my musical taste, and have been lucky enough to go and see some of my favourite acts with them, such as Incognito, The Brand New Heavies, Mario Biondi, Earth Wind & Fire, Maze and The Fatback Band. I am always having a record off with my uncle too, trying to to see if I have tune that he doesn’t have, but 9 times out of 10 he already owns it (and he has a much better sound system than me too).
My only real claim to DJ fame was when I got to warm up for my favourite DJ and producer Joey Negro at the Source Bar in Maidstone in 2014. The night was a tribute to Frankie Knuckles and the Source Bar flew dance music legend David Morales from the States to headline the event. For me it was like getting to play football at Wembley, a night I will never forget.
Even though I never got to experience the Disco days of the 1970s, I did manage to hoodwink my mates into going to the Ministry of Sound for a Glitterbox event, where we saw Simon Dunmore, DJ Pippi, Joey Negro and Todd Terry spin some awesome Disco and House classics.
I also experienced a week’s clubbing holiday in Ibiza, but was highly disappointed with the standard of the music and DJs, and sadly believe to get on as a DJ today, it’s not what you know, but who you know, as I have heard some shocking DJs in my time.
I think i’ll always be a DJ even if I never make the big time or get a regular gig, I have always done it for the love of music and always will.