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Tag Archives | Nottingham

Derren Smart

Derren Smart

Very sad to hear the news of club promoter Derren Smart’s untimely passing last weekend. Derren was someone I only got to know during recent years, initially when I appeared at his ‘A Night With…’ event, where I played for 8 hours on a memorable occasion at London’s Loft Studios in October 2012. I subsequently appeared at his Berlin equivalent ‘Eine Nacht Mit…’ at Kantine Am Berghain last December.

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Funk Soul Brethren 1983

Having just marked the 10th anniversary of my DJ return, I’ve now reached the 30th anniversary of when I cut out first time around at the end of ’83 – my last Wigan Pier appearance on Tuesday 28th December, before rounding things off at Legend the next night. During the same week my final mix for Mike Shaft’s show on Piccadilly Radio was broadcast. Following on from the previous year’s ‘The Best Of 82’, which had caused such a stir, ‘The Best Of 83’ did what it said on the tin, bringing together the biggest tunes I was playing that year. My successor, Chad Jackson (a future DMC World Mixing Champion) would continue the ‘Best Of’ tradition on Piccadilly, with the baton later handed on to Stu Allan – these end of year mixes continuing until 1992.

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Cutting Shapes – How House Music Really Hit The UK

Moss Side Manchester

During recent times I’ve been intrigued to hear about the growing schism on the House scene here in the UK, brought about by the introduction, primarily by young black dancers, of ‘foot shuffling’ (aka ‘cutting shapes’), an increasingly popular style of dancing that has been met with much hostility in certain quarters, and, somewhat bizarrely, resulted in shufflers being banned from some clubs for dancing in this way. The accusation is that not only do they take up too much dancefloor space, but there’s a general ‘moodiness’ with regards to their attitude. Although it no longer seems to be online, there was even an ‘Anti Foot Shuffling Campaign’ page on Facebook, with some of the posts suggesting underlying issues of racism. As one person commented, “It’s not that all these people on here hate shufflers, they just don’t like fact that black people are into House music now.” Although this comment may be well intentioned, it’s also somewhat misguided given there are, and always have been, plenty of black people in the UK who are big into House – it’s just that their presence is usually to be found away from the mainstream, in more specialist avenues like the Deep and Soulful House scenes. Furthermore, some of the older black crowd are also resistant to this new wave of shuffling, so to present it as a purely black / white issue would be wrong.

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Disco Now Disco Then

Daft Punk are sitting pretty at the top of the UK singles chart for the first time. The track in question, ‘Get Lucky’, taken from their forthcoming album, ‘Random Access Memories’, came as something of a surprise, for instead of hitching itself to the current EDM juggernaut that’s sweeping America, the French duo have completely bucked the trend by drawing their influence from Disco, featuring its most celebrated guitarist, the great Nile Rodgers of the Chic Organisation (as well as R&B vocalist, Pharrell Williams). A media sensation, it’s everywhere at the moment – on the radio, on the TV, in the clubs and, of course, all over the internet, becoming the most streamed new release in Spotify history. It’s already been re-edited by a whole host of DJs and is pretty much nailed on to be the single of the summer.

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The EDM From Way Back When

EDM (electronic dance music), as they like to call it in the US, has never been bigger, America now fully embracing it, having previously regarded it as a little more than a side-issue, always the bridesmaid and never the bride. Now, the more curious minded dance music enthusiasts Stateside, wishing to avoid the mainstream commercialisation of a previously more underground club culture, are, often for the first time, excavating the mid-late ’80s period, when Chicago House and Detroit Techno emerged (finding far more love at the time in the UK and Europe, than in the country of its origin).

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Sub-Sonic Force

When I was in Adelaide in February I received an email from DeFacto, the Nottingham based creative agency whose accounts include the Fred Perry clothing brand. They’d already approached me to appear at one of the monthly Fred Perry Subculture nights they hold at The Garage in London, presenting Reels Of Steel for the first time in the capital, so we’d been discussing a possible line-up for a date later in the year. However, they’d just learned of Afrika Bambaataa’s availability for their 20th April date and, quite rightly, saw this as a perfect fit with me, given my Electro-Funk background, with Bambaataa very much a key inspiration (not to mention that, as serendipity had it, this was exactly 30 years on from his era-defining single with the Soul Sonic Force, the mighty ‘Planet Rock’).

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