Saturday Night Coming Up

Last time I posted a Breezeblock mix, it seemed to get a pretty good reaction, so here’s another one.

Much more laid-back than the last one, and sadly not one of his amazing Northern Soul mixes which I used to have a couple of but can no longer find, but no worse for it, this is Andy Smith of Portishead fame; I’ll let Mary Anne Hobbs do the official intro:

Andy Smith – Breezeblock Mix 22/06/98

More soon.

Saturday Night Coming Up

Before she became the 6Music stalwart she now, deservedly, is Mary Anne Hobbs used to host a late night show of electronic music on Radio 1 called The Breezeblock.

One of the features of the show was a DJ coming in to provide a mix of around 30 minutes or so. Many DJs and producers passed through this hallowed turf: I’ve got Breezeblock mixes by the likes of FC Kahuna, Tiga, Boom Bip, The Avalanches, Lemon Jelly, Super Furry Animals and Andy Smith knocking around which might feature at some point if anyone’s interested.

But first up, this, possibly my favourite DJ mix ever, by DJ Downfall:

DJ Downfall – Breezeblock Mix

If ever there was something I post which I would urge you to listen to, it’s this. How can anyone not love a mix which starts off with Mark King from Level 42 explaining how he plays bass (with his £1 million pound thumb) and ends with the Muppets’ Statler & Waldorf, taking in Justin Timberlake, Man to Man Meets Man Parrish, The Postal Service and, if I’m not mistaken, the movie Mean Girls en route?

Seriously, listen to this and make your life instantly better.

You’re welcome.

More soon.

Saturday Night Coming Up

Hands up who’s enjoying the Conservative Party electoral contest?

Ah, yes, I appreciate asking such a question is much the same as asking this:

See, putting aside the inevitable conclusion that Boris Johnson is going to be our next Prime Minister – although events over the past couple of days may (I think it unlikely, given the right wing reaction to the Mark Field incident) change things a little – it’s been the X-Factor for people who are interested in politics.

It’s the audition round! And welcome to the stage Esther McVey! She has an interesting back story in that nicest woman on UK TV (if you ignore the stuff about her tax arrangements) Lorraine Kelly hates her.

Desperate to get throught to the judges houses, all of the other candidates appeal to the common, oh-so common, working classes by divulging stories about their previous drug useage, the message being that they’re just ordinary people, sure they’ve done stuff they regret, but they’ve faced up to and beaten their problems.

Dominic Raab: admitted to taking cannabis as a student. To be fair, he probably didn’t realise it had maybe been imported through Dover, since as Minister for Brexit he “did not quite understand” the UK’s reliance on Dover as a trade route.

Rory Stewart: confessed that at a wedding in Afghanistan he had smoked opium (that’s heroin, to the likes of you and me). Which explains why he thought he was holding a phone in those videos he kept posting;

Matt Hancock: didn’t admit it, but sources close to him revealed he had tried cannabis “a few times as a student”;

Popular inadvertant rhyming slang Jeremy Hunt: “thinks” he had a cannabis lassi when he went back-packing through India. (N.B. “Thinks??” And what the effing eff is a lassi?)

Andrea Leadsom: advised that she had smoked cannabis at university. I was a bit disappointed by this, as I was looking forward to hearing about her being in a K-Hole on a family (she’s got children, you know!) day out at Cadbury World. Alas it was not to be.

Michael Gove: admitted to taking cocaine on “numerous occasions” when he was a journalist. If ever there was an anti-drugs advert waiting to be made, it’s that if you take drugs you too could end up just as awful as Gove with an awful wife who writes vile bile in the awful Daily Mail.

And then there’s Boris.

Now, I know you’ll find this hard to believe, but Boris hasn’t been entirely consistent in his answers on this front. I know, that’s not like him, right?

In a 2005 edition of Have I Got News For You he said: “I think I was once given cocaine, but I sneezed and so it did not go up my nose. In fact, I may have been doing icing sugar.”

Boris seems to have got himself all mixed up with Woody Allen in Annie Hall, which given both of their questionable sexual morals, perhaps shouldn’t be such a surprise:

But then in 2007, inexplicably and totally out of character for him to contradict himself, Johnson admitted to taking cocaine and cannabis at university but that they “achieved no pharmacological, psychotropic or any other effect on me whatsoever”.

Oh Boris, Boris, Boris. There’s only two explanations for that; either you’re too stupid to work out how to smoke or snort, or you spout so much bullshit it’s impossible to tell druggy Johnson from the straight one. I’m not sure which is worse.

But I digress, because I sense some of you may be wondering why I’m banging on about the Conservative Party leadership process in a series where I traditionally tell a clubbing related story.

And the answer is this: I’ve always felt a little conflicted about writing these posts, partly because I do not wish to be seen to be encouraging or endorsing recreational drug use – which is a dangerous and often dumb thing to do – but mostly because I was concerned about any legal ramifications which might arise from my stories.

But now I think, what the hell: if leading Tory MPs, including the next Prime Minister, can admit to taking illegal substances in the past with no consequences, then all I have to do is screw over the NHS and make sure a totally innocent UK citizen remains in a prison in Iran and I’ll be fine.

I’ll work on that.

In the meantime, a tune which will forever remind me of my clubbing mate Dum-Dum. Whilst I was still popping pills like Smarties, he decided he didn’t need them anymore, which is entirely admirable.

But.

On occasion, about an hour after I’d dropped, as we danced next to each other, Dum-Dum would look enviously at me and ask if I was coming up yet. Invariably the answer was a resounding “yes”.

And then about half an hour later, he would crumble and ask if I had any spares.

Time for a tune which at first listen seems to be about how great recreational drugs are, but closer listening reveals it to be the complete opposite:

Green Velvet – La La Land

Can I be Prime Minister now please?

More soon.

Saturday Night Coming Up

For many years, before I got into “proper” clubbing – far too late, I know, I know – my idea of going clubbing on a Saturday night meant going to an indie club.

To be honest, things have come pretty much full circle for me now; I’m far too old to go clubbing at all now, but on the odd occasion that I do, it’s far more likely to be to an indie club than a bass-pumping house music chugging one.

When I first lived in Cardiff, that would mean going to Subways – nothing to do with sandwiches, feel free to insert your own joke about having a foot-long here if you so choose to do – a subterranean bar with a tiny dance floor which had a pillar plonked right in the middle of it, which was as renowned for the toilets flooding as it was for the music it played.

Subways closed in the early 1990s, which pretty much left either Clwb Ifor Bach (or The Welsh Club as it was colloquially know to non-native speakers such as I), or, more often, Metros as your bona fide alternative music venue.

Like Subways, Metros was also an underground club in the very literal sense of the term, but was a much bigger beast than Subways had ever been. And for a year or so, I managed to get in free, thanks to some friends of mine.

In the mid-to-late 1990s, I used to drink regularly in a pub called The Tut ‘n’ Shive on City Road in Cardiff. Now demolished, I loved that pub like no other, and usually spent two or three nights a week in there, and both nights (and often days) at the weekends.

Consequentially, I was on first name terms with the bar staff, the landlady, and many of the regulars. It was the closest I ever came to being part of a bar like in Cheers; I can count on one finger the amount of times I went in there and didn’t know anybody. Truly, everybody knew my name (and sometimes, I could remember theirs).

One Saturday night, one of the bar staff – a lad called Dave, who since he also had a shaved head and glasses, was often asked if we were related, and vice versa – approached me and told me that he and the rest of the staff were going to Metros after work, and I’d be more than welcome to come along too if I wanted to. Dave and I had become friendly over the years I spent drinking there, and whilst we haven’t really been in touch for a few years now – since I left Cardiff, just over ten years ago – for a few years we were pretty good mates.

Anyway, I’d had a few by chucking-out time, and whilst my mind and body quite fancied the idea of carrying on into the wee small hours, my wallet was less enthusiastic. Not a problem, Dave advised me, for they had a deal with the club: staff from The Tut get in for free. All I had to do was not appear too pissed, pretend to work at the pub, and I’d be in.

And so off we traipsed, after they’d finished all the wiping down of tables and mopping of floors. It was about a 10 minute walk into town, during which time I sobered up enough to seem, I thought, inconspicuous when trying to get passed the bouncers.

Although, one did stop me, and tried to get me to pay.

“But I work at The Tut, with these guys,” I protested, puffing my chest out in faux-indignation, trying to appear taller and bulkier than I really was.

“Oh really. I’ve never seen you with them before,” said the shaved ape. “What’s the name of the landlord?”

A trick question. “Well, it’s Keith’s name over the door,” I replied, “but he doesn’t have much to do with the day-to-day running of the pub, not since…oh, you know…” (Legend had it that Keith had been beaten up by some ne’er do wells he’d been ejecting from the pub years ago; he now walked with a limp, assisted by a walking stick) “…so his missus Debs runs the show these days…”

Being a regular in a pub certainly pays off sometimes: “In you go then.”

The DJ at Metros had a playlist not dissimilar to what I tried to do years before when I DJ’d at Uni: anything indie-ish could get played, and he/I would try to encompass as many different sub-genres as possible. He wasn’t bothered whether one song sounded good next to the preceding one, his ony concern was getting people to dance for as long as possible, and work up enough of a thirst to spend money at the bar. And because the club was underground, it was always ridiculously hot; sweat would vaporise, collect and solidify on the ceiling and then drip back down on you.

But the fun of this approach, as a punter, was that you never really knew what would come next. One night I remember channeling childhood country dancing lessons along to The Proclaimers one minute, then wafting imaginary puffs of dry ice to The Sisters of Mercy the next.

And here’s the best thing about Metros, something I’ve never encountered in any club before or since: open until 4am, at around 2am they would start serving free toast. No, not a euphemism or code word for some kind of interesting drug: actual toast.

It was here that I danced to hip hop for the first time, if you can call it dancing. It was to a tune which the DJ would often drop, but which I nor anyone I knew, recognised.

Asking the DJ what a particular tune was equals a definite no-no at Metros, as I found out.

“‘Scuse me mate,” I once ventured, “what’s this tune you’re playing now?”

The enquiry brought a withering look from the man behind the decks.

“Fuck off” was the response.

For whilst he liked playing a wide-ranging spectrum of indie-esque tunes, he didn’t like people knowing what they were. Knowledge is power, and all that.

And so it was that, in those pre-Google days, it wasn’t until many years later that I found out what that hip-hop tune I liked enough to dance to was.

And of course, it was Llŷr who cast light into that particular shadowy corner for me.

“Do you mean this?” he said, after he let me pathetically attempt to describe (and, if memory serves, beatbox) it to him:

concrete

Jurassic 5 – Concrete Schoolyard

More soon. I’m off for some toast.

Saturday Night Coming Up

Because of the autobiographical/confessional nature of some of my posts – especially the ones in this series, when I want to relate a clubbing-related story where I have to mention somebody else – I will contact them first, tell them what I want to write about, and ask if they’re happy for me to use their real name, or, if they’d prefer to remain anonymous, I invite them to suggest a pseudonym which they’re happy for me to use when I write about them.

For example, Dum Dum, who appears often in this series, isn’t really called Dum Dum, of course. His real name is…aww, you don’t get me that easily! *shakes fist and grrr’s*

So tonight’s story involves a young lady who, at her request, we shall call Manon. No, I don’t understand why anyone would pick that either; it sounds like something a footballer would shout to another to warn them of an impneding tackle to me, but there you go, that’s what she wanted.

So, back when I lived in Cardiff, and in the middle of my middle-aged reinvention as a clubber, we’d been to the wedding reception of two friends of ours, which was in a slightly more westerly town, far enough away that a group of us Cardiffians hired a mini-bus to drive us there and back.

As we reached the outskirts of Cardiff on the way home, I’d ventured, semi-seriously, that legendary club-night Time Flies was on, and that I quite fancied going, not really expecting that anyone would take me up on the offer.

But to misquote Eminem, I forgot about Manon, who was bang up for it.

And so it was that after the minibus had dropped everyone else off, we directed him down to Cardiff Bay, and to the Coal Exchange.

For as long as I’d lived in Cardiff, the Coal Exchange had been predominantly a music venue, although I’d also been to wedding receptions there too. Truth be told, it was past it’s best days even then, but it remained a wonderful, if slightly decrepit, building.

In 2013, it closed due to safety issues, and as it lay dormant for years it was even the subject of a BBC documentary – Going Going Gone – by legendary documentary maker Nick Broomfield. Eventually, Cardiff Council bought it, and subsequently sold it to Signature Living, who have extensively refurbished it and it’s now a very grand looking (and rightly so) hotel:

The Coal Exchange

But I digress.

Manon and I stumbled off the minibus and up towards those main doors; it was approaching 2am by now and although the door was manned, they took one look at us and waved us through without asking us to pay.

In our heads, on that night and to this day, this made us the King & Queen of Cardiff clubbing. We didn’t need to pay to get in anywhere, our presence was sought after, demanded. Now we were here, the party could finally start!

But only after, I’m afraid to admit, a visit to the toilets to “score”. Here comes the usual disclaimer: if you really must buy drugs to enhance your night out, then don’t buy them from total strangers in the club toilet. It’s a really dumb thing to do.

That said, half an hour later, Manon and I were absolutely flying, and I remember this tune getting played, which, as it’s May Day weekend here in the UK, seems appropriate to let you hear. As with my last post in this series, it’s a bit trance-trousers, as you would expect from a Paul Van Dyk remix, but I bloody love this. Play it loud:

mayday

Members Of Mayday – 10 In 01 (Paul Van Dyk Club Mix)

I’ve always been awful at remembering names and genres of dance records, and this has often been my downfall. I once told Llŷr that this was by Men of Madness, which of course, he never let me forget. I imagine he’s chuckling about my error even now, affectionately calling me a twat.

More soon.

Saturday Night Coming Up

All that talk of meat earlier reminds of me of one of Llŷr’s other passions: laughing at, and often (in a piss-taking way) joining in with the meats doing The Meat Dance.

Okay, this is going to be really tricky to explain.

So: Meats, to us, were blokes who danced in clubs with their tops off, to expose what they perceived as being their ripped bodies, something Llŷr and I both knew we could never aspire to, even if we wanted to. “Them’s the Meats” was our clarion call.

And, regardless of whether they had fellow Meats with them or not, they always did the same Meat Dance: *Handclap…and to the left* dance, which Llŷr used to mimic so well.

Here’s how The Meats viewed themselves:

muscle (2)

Our mates Jo & Ian visited us in Cardiff one weekend, back in 2006, to go to the horribly named Get Loaded in the Park and oh my there was some prime meat – Valleys boys with their tops off – on display that day.

Jo took loads of meat-worthy pictures on the day, but annoyingly she had her laptop nicked along with all her photos – except this one, which does rather neatly illustrate the disparity between the perceived and the reality, the difference between a ripped torso and a thumb in shades:

Jo & Hel meat

But I digress.

When I finally got into clubbing, Llŷr, wary of me being a big old fat fish out of water, made me a load of mix-tapes (which dates this somewhat) to help me crib up.

I still have a couple of them, and last year, since I had no means to listen to the sodding things, I bought a second hand stereo which had a tape deck on it, specifically so I could hear them again.

So here’s (almost) all of the tunes on one of them, which he entitled Losing It, a title inspired by my reaction on one night out when a tune by Faithless was dropped (I’d love to say it was Insomnia, but truth be told I think it was probably We Come 1).

Anyway, my explosion that night definitely influenced the tunes on this mix-tape, which is probably a bit more trance-trousers than he would care to be associated with.

But he even made a proper sleeve for the cassette, God bless him, so here it is:

IMG_0116 (2)

And here’s the tunes.

Side A:

Chemical Brothers - It Began in Afrika

The Chemical Brothers – It Began in Afrika

BT - Mercury and Solace

BT – Mercury and Solace

Way Out West - Intensify

Way Out West – Intensify

Muse - Sunburn

Muse – Sunburn (Timo Maas Sunstroke Mix)

Paul Van Dyk - We Are Alive

Paul van Dyk – We Are Alive

kosheen - hide u

Kosheen – Hide U (Rollo + Sister Bliss Mix)

Sister Bliss - Deliver Me

Sister Bliss – Deliver Me

Side B:

Mutiny - The Virus

Mutiny – The Virus [King Unique’s Snake Charmer Mix]

X-Press 2 - Muzikizum

X-Press 2 – Muzikizum

Coast 2 Coast - Home

Coast 2 Coast – Home (DJ Tiesto Remix)

Dusted - Always Remember

Dusted – Always Remember To Love And Respect Your Mother (Euphoric mix)

Jan Johnston

Jan Johnston – Flesh (DJ Tiësto Mix)

Push - Strange World

Push – Strange World (2000 Remake)

Alas, I cannot find the last track, something called Outro by G.H. Feel free to send me links to it if you can.

Otherwise: More soon.

Saturday Night Coming Up

Not a club/dance record by any stretch of the imagination, this.

But it’s a record which reminds me of the days when I used to be stupid enough to regularly pick up 3 for a tenner off a bloke with tattoos on either his neck or his face or both, in a darkened corner of a club, or toilet cubicle.

Man alive, them pills sure made me want to bop, alright.

Cramps

The Cramps – Bop Pills

More soon.