Archive for July 7, 2011
There is no question that 2011 has so far been an interesting year for one of our most favourite clubbing brands, the start signalling a succession of award winning accolades, followed by a string of parties that rode this awesome afterhours on a wave crest that showed no signs on crashing on the rocks. Yet, with an undercurrent that was tugging it towards a tide change, not least some of its key players having fallen by the wayside or sidelined from prominent positions, there appeared to be a crisis of faith developing amongst some of its loyal & longstanding customers, issues of promoter presence (or the lack of it) & winning formula busting decision making riding high in people’s minds, and for a while it seemed one of its staunchest supporters had lost faith not just in the club, but in the organisation behind it. However, through this period of unrest, Beyond continued to carve a path of significant success, not least with the emergence of a new alliance that allowed it to extend its “Super” styled events to match the might of its “Midnight” meets.
Bringing together Beyond & Barcode had been an aim pretty high on The Orange Group’s wish-list for some time, although with the bars management team of the time constantly placing a number of obstacles in the way, the marriage of minds that was seen as inherent sense by the clubbing public, took much longer to come to fruition. However, when the brilliant news of a breakthrough came our way, not least with the scheduling of the first joint event between Beyond & its next door neighbour on the last Bank Holiday in May, the second “Supersize” party proved a huge success, not least as it served up an extended alfresco area between the two venues that sat extremely well with the clubbing fraternity. But there was much more to this super sized offering, not least a further two dancefloors to accommodate the extra numbers this headlining holiday weekend event ended up attracting, all roads seemingly leading to Beyond and the team reporting on one of the best turnouts in their now lengthy history, every single element that made this awesome afterhours so great over the years & in more recent times, very much present & correct.
So, when we heard that the next event in the “Super Size” series would centrepiece a hectic London Gay Pride Orange Group weekend of events that stretched into double figures, the aptly named “Super Pride” party signalling a second joining of forces with Barcode, it was one Beyond that we were not going to miss, even over our dead body, or at least one that was still in recovery mode after a serious road accident just three weeks before. Indeed, to ensure that our whole experience of this magical meet wasn’t diminished by over indulgence in others, we took the painful but sensible decision to rest in the immediate hours preceding this latest Sunday morning session, thus missing out on the massive WE “Heroes” event, rather sending our undercover reviewer to report on it all, our exploits in the hands of the Pitron posse in Barcode exhausting our fragile back bones & testing that now infamous iron lung to its limits. But the rest choice was to prove a wise decision, especially given the disco nap that ensued, meaning it was close on 7 a.m. before we hit the road & the short trip to Vauxhall and a liaison with a throng of folk & our favourite foray on the clubbing calendar.
With a sizeable queue still presenting itself as we arrived at Beyond’s entrance, everyone was still safe in the knowledge that all the extra space would mean that they would soon be into this exceptional event to soak up everything that this super sized “Super Pride”” party had to throw at them. And while we couldn’t spot the familiar & friendly face of Tom Fuller in his usual marvellous queue management mode, we were grateful that after a longer than usual wait, door hostess Juliana & management man Phillipe Chiarella recognised us in an instant, waving us right through into the action, passed the eagerly awaiting others that were dying to dive into the delights of this Beyond bash. So, winding our way into the terrace space, we spotted the familiar figure of D.J. The Oli behind the decks, serving up a sweet selection of scorching sounds to a packed out space, the feel that this was going to be another exceptional event already enveloping us, as we advanced further through the Area expanse, weaving past a sea of gyrating bodies in the chapel room where David Jimenez was weaving his magical musical wand of deep tech house that had plenty of appreciative adorners to his art & his dance directives. But it was Beyond’s main room where we were headed, our arrival now only impeded by the need to park our belongings safely, which we did with consummate ease & efficiency, meaning that we arrived on our spot in an instant, soaking up the splendour of this space for the first time in nearly a month.
Finding ourselves back in what we consider as our own holy grail, this spot in Area’s main room having been responsible for some of the most magnificent memories in recent months & years, we could feel the emotion of being back on our spot already consuming us, not least as one of the clubs major memory protagonists, Mikey D, was in charge of the tunes, already delivering delicious delectations of heavenly house, rousing rhythmical beats, full of uplifting tones & tech infusions that was a clear statement of his current style. And it was hardly moments before we found ourselves well into our stride, matching the movements of those around us that already included fabulous friends Andrea, Stephen (aka Miss Cougar), Muir, plus many of the usual Brazilian bunch, a whole further succession of familiar faces passing us by & saying hi, including the delectable Dorin & the superb Sophie, both giving us a warming hug & feeling so pleased to see us as we were them, we very much staggered by all the wonderful welcoming wishes. But it was Mikey & his music that was now grabbing us the most, not least when he pulled out our track of the week, “Pressure” having featured in his back-to-back set in Soho just a few hours before and sounding even more spectacular in these spectacular surroundings.
With Beyond’s main room absolutely rocking & rolling, this “Super Pride” event well into its stride thanks to the dynamic Mr Dower, we were going nowhere, especially as Mikey had already invoked plenty of “Doing The Disco Dance” moves from our spot, the arrival of Steve Pitron & Celso signalling yet another captivating chapter in an already wonderful weekend in the company of these fantastic friends. With Steve assuming his position behind the decks, it was no surprise that he immediately sent us wild with his track choices, “Bitch Lady” also having featured large over the last few days, although for reasons only both he & we knew best, the opportunities to soak up some of that precision Pitron perfection escaping us due to our unfortunate accident, the whole emotion of it all becoming too much, especially when he selected “Starry Eyed”, we finding the tears rolling down our face, Andrea coming to our aid as we cowered in the corner trying to get a grip. But the tracks kept coming, “So Alive” making us realise where we were yet that it could have been so different, then a chance meet with a true legend of a D.J., Antoine 909, pulling us out of our precarious state towards the elation that we had expected of this rapturous return to the best club in the world, or at least how we see Beyond.
With our morning far from over, indeed with still a sizeable slice of Steve’s set to savour, Brazilian beauty Bel by our side, although not tweeting as much as usual, she plainly missing her beau who had returned to Brazil just hours before, Steve continued to stir our emotions, serving up a truly spectacular set, picking on a whole load of Disco matt favourites, including “Waiting For You”, “Last Forever” and the biggie “You’ve Got The Love”, even “Offshore” thrown in for good measure, The Beyond faithful getting their own fill of others like “Sweet Dreams”, “Souk” & “Downpipe”, Mr Pitron placing everything perfectly in their prancing path, the lighting not quite as we would have liked, queen of that scene, Smalls, off duty although very much present. And with our close companions aghast with our now extravagant dancing dervishes, we feeling absolutely no pain or discomfort from our back bones or iron lung, we soaked up the remainder of yet another precision perfect performance from Beyond’s main man, he eventually handing over the reins to The Sharp Boys, who along with a fulsome Fat Tony towering treat of a turn, carried us through to a midday exit from this exceptional “Super Pride” event, we hardly needing to step into the Barcode side or even the alfresco area as we would usually do.
Without question the marriage of minds between Beyond & Barcode has given this awesome afterhours a new dimension, the extra space allowing clubbers to feel even more at ease with their Sunday morning dancing devotions, the fact that especially on extended & special weekends on the clubbing calendar, the extra space that that amalgamation of the two venues neatly accommodates the “all roads lead to” element that has become a feature of Beyond, works like a dream. And whilst to the untrained eye, it seems that the main benefactor in this marriage of minds is Beyond, the reality is that the bringing together of these two brilliant brands is to the greater good of the clubbing community, which is surely what this amazing association should be all about. As for our experience this time round, having clearly missed being in the bracing beguilement of Beyond for as long as we did, our rapturous return did erupt emotions over & above what we had expected, yet in such a good way that being on our spot again & savouring the scintillating sets of both Mikey D & Steve Pitron, along with pulsating performances from the rest of the all-star resident D.J. team made our return the sweetest sensation we could have wished for. So, long live the bonding between these two brands & long live our adorable afterhours as we will surely be back for more Beyond brilliance before you know it. (DISCO MATT)
In all the years we have been attending Pride festivals in London, there has never been quite the excitement & anticipation of a post parade party like this year and whilst it is true that we miss the park proceedings that dominated Pride in the nineties & early noughties, the gatherings in Soho Square have become quite special. Indeed, it was this very place that, just three years ago, we played witness to one of the best parties in our Pride history, on this occasion a Sunday rather than a Saturday & for Soho rather than London Gay Pride, we spending much of an amazing afternoon & exceptional evening in amongst the action both front & backstage with fabulous friend Brent Nicholls, the day hardly having been matched since, well in a Pride sort of way anyhow. And, while we had a terrific time just a year ago, when the London Pride Dance Stage was soak up the lion’s share of our afternoon again, having been switched from Soho to Leicester Square, the ambience & action didn’t feel anywhere near as good as previous years, the intimate & theatrical feel of the former completely missing.
So, when the superb news came through that The Dance Stage for 2011 would once again be in Soho Square, furthermore hosted by Fire, but even better orchestrated by one of the best promoters & front men we know, Steven Sharp, we were wanting for little more. Yet there was much more to come, as not only would two of our favourites being going back-to-back in a headlining set, but the dream of a P.A. had been lined up, both the set & the performance likely to leave us in our trademark pool of tearful emotions. With the full line-up & that P.A. confirmation hitting our inbox just the night before, as the day dawned, the realisation that we were in for something truly special began to sunk in & as we prepared ourselves for the journey into Soho the emotion of it all overcame us in a-typical style, but with best foot forward we made our way to our destination, arriving via a whole load of diversions at Soho Square just turned 4 p.m. With the music already booming out across the area and the outside of the square buzzing with activity, we found our way round to the back stage entry and in search of fabulous friend Tom Fuller who was on scouting duty in the energetic & exemplary way that only he knows best.
With Mr Fuller clearly busying himself around the square, we were graced by the presence of none other than Craig Elder, who immediately escorted us into the back-stage area, the atmosphere in & around the Dance Stage already electric and D.J.’s Lee Harris & Jonny M having just assumed the decks for the first back-to-back set of this exceptional event. With Steve, Celso & Mikey having arrived just in advance of us, we had a momentary catch-up before checking out the front of the stage area, the familiar figure of Chrissy Darling standing proud in the crowd & attracting plenty of attention, adding to the amazing atmosphere, hoards of revellers lapping up the heavenly house tunes of the duo behind the decks. But with more hello’s to say, including D’Johnny who had not long finished his superb set, along with perfect pal Paul Vlad, the man who had been a real lynch pin in the set up of this spectacular stage in the square, having worked tirelessly since the early hours & now very much part of the stage management team that was already making this an outstanding outing. But the familiar faces kept coming, first Naomi Ruiz who was preparing to dive into the dancing spotlight stage front with a gaggle of gorgeous WE Party go-go’s, while Trade’s Mark Williams was in close call, as was prolific percussionist David H, Lovechild & SMX resident D.J. Tony English, although it was the sadly missed Alan K that grabbed most of our attention, we thrilled to bits to see the man back in the thick of the action & seemingly enjoying every minute of it.
Heading out into the main dance arena with both Steve & Celso, we quickly found fellow friend Andrea with her usual harem of hunks around her, we also falling on clubbing partner & cougar loving pal Stephen, we quickly deciding that this was the spot to lay our hat for a while, Steve’s work colleague & all round lovely lady Jess bounding up to say hello, Brazilian beauty Bel also in close call & whistling her tweets away as only she can. But, while we found ourselves in such captivating company, it was the music & the stage that was going to be the focus of our attention, the first hour literally flying by as we darted back & forth between the front & back of the arena area, The Oli & Fat Tony following on from first P.A. Sonique, who injected her own enthusiasm on proceedings, Steven Sharp doing a brilliant job of keeping the energy & pace of the afternoon going with rousing announcements over the microphone. However, we were inevitably waiting for what was to prove the set of this Soho Square shindig, the pulsating performance of Beyond boys Steve Pitron & Mikey D, polished off with a perfect P.A. that was made of dreams.
So, with six o’clock marking the start of that spectacular set, we assumed position backstage, as first Mikey D ascended to the decks, quickly followed by Mr Pitron, both selecting sounds that were hitting our sweet spots, hits like “Pressure”, “The Music In My Soul”, “Live Your Dreams” & “You’ve Got The Love” finding fabulous favour with the cavorting & considerable crowd that had gathered around the stage, Bel joining us in a mini “Doing The Disco Matt” session as we found our stride for the first time in weeks, although exciting the iron lung quite a bit. With the dynamic duo’s prolific performance going from strength to strength, we felt the further anticipation of the arrival of the star P.A. building relentlessly, plenty of fevered activity around us signalling the appearance on Shawnee Taylor, the back stage area suddenly filling with Orange Group personnel wanting to get their slice of this vivacious vocalist, some a little too overzealous in their approaches, while we stood back in our corner, soaking up the remainder of the scintillating set of both Mikey & Steve. And with a call coming across “…are you ready Matt??…”, it was the classic track “Here Comes The Rain” that truly elevated the audience & the square in advance of Ms Taylor’s towering track, this Pitron anthem rounding off an hour of sheer musical bliss that was going to be difficult to top.
Now the stage was Shawnee’s and with a rousing welcome exciting an already euphoric square full of revellers, she set about sending the crowd skyward with her truly tremendous & heavenly latest hit, “Stronger”, we feeling that surge of emotion that had been building up inside all day, well for the last few weeks to be honest, still pinching ourselves that we were mere metres away from the artist that was behind the latest Pitron/DM anthem that was already rocking dancefloors across the world. With Tom Fuller now by our side, resplendent in his cowboy hat & WE party t-shirt, Craig Elder also in close call & Shawnee right in our line of vision, the next few minutes of magical music literally pulled on our heart strings, those joyful tears welling up in our eyes, fortunately shrouded by our dark sunglasses, this live rendition the pinnacle of our amazing afternoon. But it wasn’t over, as she quickly followed up our tip top track with another of her own anthem’s, the uplifting & absorbing “Live Your Life”, Shawnee now well into her stride & proving what a powerful presence she had on proceedings, indeed with both Craig & us declaring in unison the plain, simple yet aptly expressive word “…amazing….”, we couldn’t have summed up her showing in a more precise & perfect way.
With that spectacular hour or so having impacted on us immensely and with Shawnee back stage & sinking into the spontaneous champagne reception to toast her terrific turn, it was The Sharp Boys that were to round off this delectable Dance Stage day in the London pride 2011 spotlight, we holding back from the flock of followers that were craving to get their shot & slice of Shawnee, rather waiting for friends Steve & Cellos to emerge from swarm around her. And, with post square commitments south of the river to now direct our attention on, but with George & Steven playing a closing set to savour, the choice of whether to stay or to go became tricky, the temptations of partying in Soho with pal Stephen also presenting itself, we eventually choosing the Pitron path that was to herald yet another captivating chapter in our already wonderful weekend that has started two days before & was nowhere near finishing yet.
Having chosen to once again devoted the majority of our time across the main day of London’s Gay Pride festival to The Dance Stage, we definitely walked away contented with our lot & far from feeling we had missed out. Indeed with so many superb sets from a collection of D.J.’s that also included a prolific performance from new Fire girl Verity Meyes, plus with news that The Dame Edna Experience had called in sick, leaving the main arena in Trafalgar Square on somewhat deflated finish, ours couldn’t have finished on a more heavenly high, as not only did the boy wonders Steve Pitron & Mikey D treat us to a magnificent sixty minutes of magical music, but Shawnee Taylor was the perfect P.A. for this outstanding occasion, the plaudits surely having to go to Mr Pitron for sowing the seeds of her showing in Soho Square & pulling on his experience & contacts in making the booking possible, so someone we cannot thank enough for making our dream day come true. But Steve & Shawnee aside, further special thanks have to go to Craig Elder for his incredible hospitality, to Tom Fuller for his tireless work to ensure the smooth running of the square, while the biggest thanks & acknowledgement going to Steven Sharp, who proved the most fantastic front man to this Dance Stage spectacle that will remain in our memories as probably the best yet. (DISCO MATT)