Posts Tagged ‘Verity Meyes’
Having firmly established itself as a Friday favourite & having recently celebrated its 2nd birthday, it seems that Onyx continues to ride a wave crest that shows no signs of coming into shore, new(ish) promoter Verity Meyes, having grasped what was already a winning formula and adding her own fabulous & feminine touch to the club which seems to have further broadened its appeal. And having witnessed the club for ourselves over the birthday weekend(s), the subtle changes both to the club & the crowd are actually quite noticeable, Verity’s presence very much felt at every single event. So, with a hugely successful bank holiday weekend behind the club, which played out to audiences in London & Manchester, its back to business as usual this week, although with an exciting twist, as The Orange Group’s association with Gary Henshaw’s Ku-Bar/Klub extends to Onyx, with an injection of D.J. talent from the Ku camp & a Ku themed pop room.
So, what can you expect from this “Ku Takeover” event?, Well, three room of fun for a start, as the Onyx residents will be joining forces with Ku’s established & rising stars in a marriage of musical minds that will deliver the delectable diversity that the club has become renowned. So, main room wise, its young stallions Jc Christopher & Lee Harris that take up the rhythmic reigns, charging the electrified atmosphere with upfront & uplifting house, while in the terrace its more about tech tones, as Lisa German & Ariel turbo charge the tunes, the handful or more of Balearic beats added into the mix, along with the artistic percussionist additions from Donald that give the room its own unique feel & following.
But it’s the pop room that sees Gary’s gang gather, Verity explaining that “…we welcome to the decks the gorgeous and super-talented winner Thanos Sak and runner up Norbert M of the Ku Bar DJ Quest. It’s a Ku Takeover as the most talked about additions to the London DJ circuit play together for the first time as DJs in their own right at a gay clubnight…”. Now, whist we haven’t heard much at all about the winner Thomas, to beat Norbert M into second place seems to indicate that he is a considerable talent, Norbert having already made a splash on the scene with gigs at Rupert St, A:M & Heaven, his podcasts very much hinting towards this emerging talents mighty mixing & & superb sound spotting qualities, his latest creation, “D.I.S.CO.” definitely worth a listen at http://norbertmik.podomatic.com/entry/2011-08-18T13_38_05-07_00. But the Ku takeover doesn’t stop there, as regular residents The Very Miss Dusty O & Lady Lloyd perform an exclusive back-to-back set that is sure to be crammed with pop paraphernalia and add that third dimension to the whole affair.
So, with the music pretty much tied up, what about the detail?, well Onyx “the Ku Takeover” kicks off tonight (Friday 9th Sept) from 10 p.m. at Area, the club running through to a planned 5 a.m, with advance tickets on sale online at http://clubtickets.com priced at just £5, while if you get your skates on & arrive before 11.30 p.m., its free. Entry after that is £6, while to get on the Onyx guestlist, simply pay a visit to http://gayguestlists.com/onyx. So, far from burning a hole in your pocket, Onyx is a great deal to start your weekend, not least as the fabulous drinks deals kick in from the off, shots at just £1 each & special prices on spirits, beers & alcopops. Plus, with Thiago Drewery’s drop dead gorgeous dancers, the simply gorgeous Chrissy Darling hosting the door & party, and as Verity rightly say’s “…you have London’s best destination Friday night party, so come & play!…”.
So, if its dynamic dancing, magical music, amazing atmospherics, prolific pyrotechnics, & exceptional effects, Onyx is definitely THE place to be & be seen in Vauxhall this Friday night, so make sure you “Go There! Be There! (DISCO MATT)
Sunday t-dance style parties have been a feature of the capitals clubbing circuit for as long as we can remember, a whole host of brands trying their hand at this sometimes tricky timing, some with more success than others, good examples from the halcyon days being Salvation, DTPM & Factor 25, while in more recent times some new concepts have not been so fortunate, both Famous & TTD falling foul of an expected following that simply didn’t materialise. That said, if a party is pitched right, then success it can achieve, Downtown, the collaboration between Thursday phenomenon Room Service & Saturday sensation Meat, having created a Sunday t-dance that both attracted & appealed in significant numbers.
So, sensing a slight tide change in Sunday clubbing, plus with an eye towards more qualitative clubbing, The Orange Group decided it was time to up their own ante with a new club that echoed all of these sentiments, Blessed being the result. And from the moment of its announcement, this new venture very much set its stool as the new way to fill the sandwich of group’s Sunday schedule, fitting neatly between Later & Orange, thus replacing Booster, the niche club event with a more specific following & musical direction. The aim with Blessed was clear, it wanted to offer a more sophisticated setting, a lounge style space with tables & wine waiter service, matched by more mainstream music from scene favourite D.J.’s, along with live shows & performances from credible artists, the question being, how did Blessed actual deliver with its launch and what were our impressions of this improved offer?
Landing back in Vauxhall after the Later boat party, we were in pole position to take in the Blessed launch from the off, although it seemed they weren’t quite ready for us, the planned 7 p.m. start slipping a little, leaving us to gather ourselves & effect a clothes change before arriving at Area to a warming reception from dutiful dudes Romain Lopez & Paul Vlad, both fresh from the regular Later at Fire. So, it was mere moments before we were inside although we were one of only a handful of post boat party goers, many probably having chosen to head home to refresh themselves from an afternoon on the high seas. Feeling a little like a lost sheep, we headed first into the terrace space, which had been subtly transformed into a chill-out space, a smattering of tables, candles & ambient lighting; although it seemed that the lion’s share of activity was spread between the outside space & the aptly named chapel room. And it was here where we found Fat Tony, standing proud in his D.J. pulpit serving us a sermon chorus of chunky tunes, many uplifting & euphoric but with tech intentions, a Blessed bible of beats that were striking just the right chord with his holy congregation.
However, after the antics of the afternoon, it was the outside space that we decided to spend most of our time for this Blessed t-dance launch, we soon being joined by a wave of familiar faces that had, as we thought, refreshed themselves after the Thames trip and made it down for this sublime Sunday service. Included within the ever increasing crowd were the likes of Johnny Marsh, Verity Meyes, & Mauricio Ortiz, although many more that had been boat bound were also here, Jamie Head with partner tiff soaking up some social splendour, while there was also no shortage of muscle hunks, good looking guys & girls, as well as a mixture of club kids that had now made it across from Fire. Plus, with three very fetching bar waiters dressed in tight shorts, black bow ties & not much else, circling around offering table served drinks, there was a sense that the aims of a more qualitative feel to this concept were being met.
With The Oli arriving and stepping in for an absent Mikey D on the Blessed decks, we continued our socialising outside, now in the captivating company of Craig Elder, the man a picture of health and clearly revelling in both the success of the Later boat trip and the pitch of this party. And there was now a real buzz building across the outside area, a photo shoot space having been set up for plenty of people to pose & pout, while Fat Tony was nailing the Blessed cross with a set of biblical proportions. Then, as if his prolific performance wasn’t enough, first The Oli assumed the pumping pulpit to preside over a packed out chapel room that would have put any church gathering to shame, the boy selecting a succession of sounds to savour, all added to by a spectacular showing by the vocal diva dynamite that is Kristine Cummings, she jumping on the stage & shepherding her flock of followers with rapturous renditions of club classics that were as towering as the ten commandments. However, as good as the party had become and as much as we wanted to stay, the call of an early start saw us throw in the towel a little earlier than we would have liked, leaving Area & blessed to party away till midnight & then an onward encounter with Orange, we wending our way home to reflect on a club concept with lots of promise.
So what did we actually think of Blessed? Well, it would be fair to say that it was a luke warm start, the crowd & the party taking a while to get going, but there was no doubt in our mind that pitching it with a more upmarket feel to its replacement worked well. The use of scene D.J.’s like Fat Tony, Mikey D, The Oli & DouGuim will certainly attract a more mainstream clubbing crowd and while Booster as a club does have its place, we like the direction Blessed looks like taking Sunday evenings in Vauxhall. We perhaps feel that the terrace space should have a more lounge like feel to it, possibly more seating to compliment the chill-out feel and that the table service should extend beyond just bottles of wine, but all in all, we were impressed with what Blessed achieved with the launch, the inclusion of weekly P.A.’s sure to boost its appeal even more, so wish it the best of Sunday service success and long may it preside over a crowded congregation. (DISCO MATT)
Having established itself as an afterparty to an afterhours, Sunday afternoons on the capitals clubbing circuit have only meant one place, one brand & one continual party in recent times and whilst there have been a few pretenders to the crown, there is no doubt that Later has stood the test of time, continuing to find favour with a faithful following that just don’t want their weekend partying to be interrupted with anything else. Indeed, the club has been responsible for some exceptional events in its time, New Years Day 2006 living in our memory more than any other, while in more recent times, its events across to Area have always met with rapturous response, the formula seemingly working like a dream wherever the club lays its hat. So, when we heard that Later would be hitting the high seas, well taking a cruise on the Thames actually, we very much jumped at the prospect, not least that having enjoyed a number of evening excursions by boat, we were keen to see how an afternoon trip would work out.
The inspiration of one of The Orange Group’s newest management team members, Verity Mayes, along with Brazilian boy wonder Mauricio Ortiz, the fact that this “Summer Boat Party” was something a little different to the norm was an enticing prospect by itself, while the expected captivating company was also a major draw, the one thing the team could not predict however, was the famed British summer weather, which dependant on which way it would blow, could spell either a dream or a disaster of a day. That said, with the majority of the boat’s space inside rather than out, even with a blustery & wet day materialising, the organisers were pretty confident that in restricting the numbers to a maximum of 250, that those invited along with ticket holders, would make the trip come rain or shine. Plus with the Sunday afternoon Later branding & bravado the perfect ingredient boating bonanza this looked, on paper at least, as an outstanding outing, but how did our floating foray fair & what were the heavenly highlights?
With arrangements to meet up with fabulous friends Steve Pitron & Celso Moura in motion, we decided to give Beyond a wide berth, rather staying entirely fresh for our Thames trip, a rendezvous to board the good ship Fire at Millbank pier planned for a good half an hour before the planned 2 p.m. sail setting, meaning we were dressed & ready to hit the high seas in plenty of time and with the weather set fair too, all was looking fine & dandy for our river rapture. But with the best laid plans for the timely start shifted by the Thames tide, our transport for this terrific Thames trip a tad late, the seriously developed crowd were in guessing mode as to which boat it would actually be, but as quickly as a Thames clipper floated in & then out again, the familiar flags of Fire gave the game away in an instant as our double decked delight swung round into position ready to board its partying passengers for this spectacular shindig.
By now the queue of Later lovelies had developed right along the pier and with 2 p.m. fast approaching it was clear boarding would take some considerable time, but despite queue management meister Tom Fuller being absent, both Verity & Mauricio were doing as sterling job ticking people off & checking in tickets as quickly as they could. Having been waved through in a jiffy, we soon found ourselves acquainted with our steed for the next few hours, a quick run around both decks seeing us bump into Orange Group supremo Craig Elder who was keen to share lots of news of upcoming parties & events as well savour the full extent of the Later expedition extraordinaire. However, the pressing point was to get everyone boarded, but with the boats docking slot having overrun considerably, it quickly had to make way for an inbound Thames clipper service, this temporarily stranding a few late arrivals on the pier. But in a brilliant gesture by the good ship Fire’s captain in agreement with Craig, we soon returned to pick up the waifs & strays before finally setting sail, the shimmering Sunday sunshine sending many out onto the single upper outside deck, while others, like us, decided inside was a better bet for a while.
With this Later boat party now well underway, it was D.J. Junior Moura that was grabbing most of the attention inside, this Brazilian beaut serving up scores of superb summery sounds to befit the occasion, hits like “Starry Eyed” & “You’ve Got The Love” finding favour with the developing crowd that were also choosing inside for out, the small alfresco deck absolutely rammed with sun worshipers taking in the sights of a London landscape unfolding before their eyes. So, with Steve Pitron & Fat Tony holding court, along with Jonny marsh & boyf Charlie, as well as Verity Meyes, Mauricio Ortiz & a whole host of muscle hunks stripped to their waist, it was difficult for us to resist darting out every now & then, the combination of magnificent music & splendid socialising a captivating cocktail to match the compelling company on this floating Fire foray.
Having taken in most of the city sights, St Pauls, Tower Bridge, Greenwich, The O2, Canary Wharf & back again, we it was back down past the likes of The Southbank, Somerset House, the London Eye & The Houses Of Parliament that we were now savouring on the Later boat party loop, the Fire flags flickering in the breeze while scantily clad go-go’s serving up platters of fruit & other tasty morsels for those not indulging in other flowing refreshments. But with many still packing the outside deck, we laid our hat inside and for good reason as Jamie Head was now in charge of the tunes, serving up a set to savour, a whole host of classic hits remixed & rehashed hitting the mark with many, we finding a spot to spin not far from the makeshift D.J. booth, our dancing dervishes increasing with every track he picked, the dancefloor erupting when the truly brilliant “Enjoy The Ride” played out & seemed so appropriate for the terrific time we were having, this ride on the waves in the hands of Mr Head a huge highlight.
That said, we also enjoyed our escapades out on the sundeck, the delectable Dorin & Kyri were two familiar & friendly faces among a sea of others that also included Ross Patterson & his mini posse, Ben Kaye & Q.X’s Cliff, Steve & Tony in naughty & playful moods & Mikey D never far away, all making for an amazing afternoon afloat, CO2 cannons and no shortage of enchanting eye candy. But as afternoon turned to evening, the sun dropping in the sky & shimmering on the Thames, Jamie’s spectacular set was over all too soon for us, although with, Jonny M played out for the final few minutes before the good ship Fire made its final turn and headed for home, thoughts now focussing on the next party to come, Blessed’s launch about to kick start at Area back in Vauxhall. So, with Millbank pier our docking destination, it was time to swap sea legs for terra firmer feet and reflect on this later boat party brilliance that succeeded on a number of fronts.
Having enjoyed Later in a number of guises across the years, whether on familiar territory at Fire or across at Area, expanding the concept to include a boat party was an inspired move and one that went down a treat, serving to further strengthen a brilliant brand that has very much been on the ascendency for a sizable chunk of the year. And whilst the numbers for this first floating foray were limited to just 250, making it a sell-out, capping the quantity of clubbers proved a masterful move as the boat never felt too overcrowded, rather relaxing & enjoyable, plenty of space to dance & to socialise over the two decks, although it has to be said that the outside space was never going to be big enough, perhaps a consideration for the next excursion which we understand is planned for August bank holiday. As for our highlights, well the music was right up there, both Junior’s & Jamie’s sets superb, both boys’ selections of sounds right on the money, while we couldn’t have asked for better company either, leaving us a mounds of magical memories of this summer Sunday showboat of a shindig to savour. So, hearty congratulations go out to everyone involved and we simply cannot wait for second sailing which, if anything like the first, will be another superb sell-out success. (DISCO MATT)
Over the last few weeks there have been a clutch of birthday celebrations in clubland London, some marking many years in existence, Rupert Street turning fifteen, Shadow Lounge ten, but one Friday nighter that in the short time it has been around, marking a mere two years, albeit that it seems it has been around for so much longer. Yet in celebrating its second birthday, it seemed appropriate that the club would spread their celebrations over two parties and make the most of the mini milestone, this time with a special beach party in recognition of the summer we should be having rather than the one we were suffering. Having savoured the first part of a birthday double bill and being remarkably surprised by the changes to Onyx from our visit a few months previously, we were still smarting from an exceptional experience and one that proved to be one of our best Friday nights out in a long while. So, we were raring to go for the second half, not least as we wanted to complete the full birthday picture.
However, with other pressing engagements that weekend, including the Later Boat Party & new club launch Blessed, those on top of unexpected personal commitments both on the Friday & Saturday, we decided to call on our “Secret Squirrel” undercover reviewer to cover the event and report back to us. Mind you given the recent controversy over our last “undercover” review of Barcode, we were a little wary, although with independent reports flying in from all quarters, just how good this second Onyx birthday bash was, we felt assured the coast would be clear for a rapturous review. The question’s are, what was this Onyx birthday double bill part two actually like? And what were the highlights for our stand-in reviewer? Well, this is what he had to say…..
“…Hardly a Friday has gone by in recent times that I haven’t found myself walking away from Vauxhall having soaked up an Onyx event so I guess that I am a pretty good barometer for reporting on how the club has been doing, the types of crows it has been attracting and how it has benefitted from recent subtle changes. But before I touch on that, it was Onyx’s 2nd birthday part two that I was asked to report back on, the task in front of me a much easier prospect than the last, not least that Onyx is always pretty busy compared with that other place, even with all three rooms open. Plus what I always love about going to Onyx, as well as other clubs run by the Orange group, is being chatted up (in a lovely way of course) by that really friendly guy that is always either managing the queues, in & around the clubs promoting events or simply being the charming bloke that he is, tonight being no exception.
So with the friendly greeting over and a welcome by the Onyx door team just as friendly, I was into the club and enjoying the party, the decision of where to be & what to see always a difficult one as the choice is so good yet so varied. Would it be the terrace room with Ariel & Lisa German, the tech music they play I really love, or would it be the pop room, that chapel bar space in the middle with the outrageous yet brilliant Tasty Tim, or would I go for the younger flesh of Jc Christopher & the gorgeous Lee Harris (quite fancy him!) in the main room? Well you can probably guess where I ended up, but in doing so I also lucky enough to witness a brilliant set from Gonzalo Rivas who was the special guest of this Onyx second part, 2nd birthday, and while all the other D.J.’s played really well, Gonzalo was the star of the show for me, and for a packed out main room too, helped along by a fabulous show from singer Kathy Brown who performed really well too.
As for the rest of this Onyx birthday party, the beach theme worked really well and most of the team & staff entered into the spirit, while the dancer’s beachwear costumes were really eye catching too. But while my eyes strayed over a whole host of cute guys, the mix of the crowd & the more quality feel of the clubbers was a noticeable difference to Onyx parties of a few months ago. So I kind of guess congratulations have to go to the new promoter Verity Mayes, as well as the rest of the Onyx team, that guy out front, the hostess Chrissy Darling. For me Onyx is by far the best Friday night club around and with the welcome I had, plus all the fun once inside, I will definitely be back for more very soon. So happy birthday Onyx, I hope you are around to celebrate many more…”
Well what can we say apart from it is clear we missed another prolific party & a terrific time, leaving us a little envious that we had chosen to sit this one out. Having seen the difference new Onyx promoter Verity Mayes had made when comparing our visit a week previously with that a few months before, it is pleasing that we are not the only ones that have seen the change plain & clear. And in Onyx we have a Friday night offering that offers one of the best choices of music we know, some would say pandering to too many elements of the scene, while we see it as a magnificent move that gives the clubber the choice they deserve. As for this second half of the birthday double bill, we echo the sentiments of our secret squirrel in applauding Gonzalo Rivas for his superb showing, this terrific talent never failing to impress with prolific performances, this Onyx guest slot clearly another example of his diversity, style of sound & flair that make him one of the most sought after stars of the capitals clubbing scene. So to Onyx, many happy second returns and we are sure to be back for more a long time before you celebrate your third. (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)
When we were making our gingerly steps out onto the clubbing scene some twenty years ago, Gay Pride celebrations in the capital were somewhat different to what they are today, our first ever foray being down in Kennington Park, a reasonably sedate affair which was followed by successive years at Brockwell Park, Clapham Common, Victoria Park & Finsbury Park, the big baby being Hyde Park when Pride in London was at its peak. However, sustaining such large park style events & keeping everything free proved a battle the organisers were never going to win. Add to that the surge in popularity & size of competitor pride events in Cologne & Madrid and in the last three/four years Gay Pride in London has become a shadow of its former self, although with the staging of post parade celebrations in Trafalgar, Leicester & Soho Square(s), have seen it regain some of its status in the yes of the public, the central London locale of the celebrations, taking in the gay village of Soho, seems to work well, although it has to be said that the previous park cohesion has been replaced with a more fragmented offering.
Now whilst there is no doubt that we do miss the fabulous dance tents that used to feature large in the park celebrations, we have also enjoyed the replacement dance stages at Soho Pride on a few occasions and there is no doubt that when it comes to London’s current Gay Pride set up, of the three designated square set up’s ,the dance stage is our favourite by far. However, with the this arena being consigned to Leicester Square last year, a whole load of excuses being waged by Westminster Council & the police as to why Soho Sqaure couldn’t be used, while sponsors The Orange Group made the most of a bad job, it wasn’t a patch on the dance stage’s natural home, many complaining about the overzealous security & lack of facilities, plus the feel that everything having seemingly been implemeted & orchestrated by Gay Pride’s organisers at the last minute. That said, we had a terrific time, not least being treated to a back stage pass & in so doing, hooking up with many of the D.J.’s & Orange Group top brass, this outstanding organisation digging deep into its own pockets to support Pride both morally & financially.
So, with London Gay Pride 2011 literally days away, but with there being somewhat of a hush surrounding this year’s festival, we can celebrate in the fact that not only do we have Soho Square back, but the dance stage will once again be hosted & sponsored by Fire. And furthermore, with a whole succession of peripheral parties across the weekend, it seems that London Gay Pride 2011 looks like being dominated by the “Outstanding Orange Offer”, as no less than twelve separate parties will be hosted by the group, making them the biggest single contributor to the Pride festival, Craig Elder & his terrific team very proud to play a prolific part in Pride this year. So, with so much activity, on the clubbing front at least, we thought it only fair to devote a special Weekend Focus post to all things Orange, showcasing their outstanding offer, focussing on club nights Onyx, A:M, WE Party, Beyond, Later, Orange & Open, as well as looking at The Fire Dance Stage, which centre pieces the weekend.
So, while the Orange offer actually starts this coming Wednesday (29th June) with Patrick Lilley’s Work, then continues on Thursday (30th June) with both Deuces at Area & & Gravity at Fire, it is the “I A:M Onyx” party that gets our first full focus, the clever play on words indicating that Onyx will be going head to head with afterhours A:M, spreading across the three rooms of Area on Friday 1st July, very much the group’s main pre-pride affair and combining the tip top talents from both clubs for one night only. And looking at the line-up, it seems we will be in for a magnificent musical treat, as the main room will very much be an Onyx/A:M head to head, with Onyx residents Lee Harris, Jc Christopher, Jonny M & new promoter Verity Mayes squaring up to the might of Gonzalo Rivas & D’Johnny from A:M, making for a lavish line up, especially given given the club is open for just eight hours (we make that 70 mins each!), while it seems to be Onyx business as usual in the other two rooms, regulars Lisa German & Ariel tearing up the terrace with their tech & electro house, while Tasty Tim commands the chapel room ably assisted by Jason Price & James St James, all serving up pop-tastic tunes that make this room the popular place it is. Add to that the Onyx influence of fire eating displays & drop dead gorgeous go-go’s, while the dynamic David H adds the A:M percussionist touch to proceedings, while hosts Chrissy Darling & Glendora share the spotlight both on the door & inside the club, steering you through this spectacular showcase from start to finish. And what of that start?, well this Onyx/A:M head-to-head kicks off from 10 p.m. this Friday (1st July), with the club running through to an advertised “superlate” timing. Advance £5 tickets are on sale online at http://clubtickets.com, while if you get yourselves on the guest list by going to http://gayguestlists.com/onyx, it’s a mere £1 before midnight, while for others its £2 before & £8 after.
Onto Saturday and daytime gives way to the Fire Dance Stage in Soho Square, probably looking to prove itself as the most popular of the three, it coming as no surprise that The Orange Group will be digging deep into their reserves to serve up a colossal combination of D.J. stars & P.A. artists, this Soho arena famed for offering the best in open air clubbing, the intimate yet absorbing atmosphere of the square perfect for this post pride parade celebration & the whole proceedings in the superb & safe hands of tip tip promoter Steven Sharp. Now, having been given exclusive access to the line-up for The Dance stage, we can confirm here & now that, in terms of the D.J performances, Steve Pitron & Mikey D will be playing a special back-to-back set, with other names in the frame include Fat Tony, The Oli, D’Johnny, Jamie Head, & Jonny M, with the likelihood of further names & back-to-back sets, while The Sharp Boys will be closing proceedings around 8 p.m. As for the P.A.’s, Sonique has be confirmed and there will be an extra special guest appearing, although this is very much being kept under wraps, but we are hedging our bets on it being something to do with the word “Stronger”. Plus, we have been reliably informed that prolific percussionist David H will be on hand, along with a host of other artists to compliment the D.J.’s sets. So, with a line up like that & much more surprises in store, the Dance Stage arena will be packed with post pride party goers, although as the capacity within Soho Square will need to be limited for safety reasons, we recommend you get there early, as experience from previous years means that post 4 p.m. you will expect to find a one in one out situation, especially as entry is free, although the organisers do urge you to dig deep & make contributions however big or small, to ensure that London’s Gay pride remains a free festival. More information on this Fire hosted dance stage event can be found by going to http://freclub.co.uk &/or http://pridelondon.org.
Then, when dusk turns to dark, the choice widens to three, between “official” post pride party, Liberation, the chunky & hunky Bear Necessity & the Spanish Sensation WE Party, all things Orange very much catering for all clubbing tastes. So, let’s look Liberation first, this post pride party taking place at Fire this Saturday (2nd July), kicking off extra early at 8 p.m. with a special “Smirnoff Garden Party”, this brand one of the main pride 2011/2012 sponsors & hosting this alfresco offering across the extensive Fire outside space, with expertly made drinks served by the specially selected Smirnoff team, while relaxing ambient music will both serve as a welcome interlude from the frenetic action of the Fire Dance stage, but will also allow you to draw breath before the heated up post pride action inside, which kicks off from 11 p.m. And the Liberation line-up is very impressive, probably the strongest yet, showcasing some of the capitals best talents across four very different & diverse rooms. So what’s on offer?, well the main room will be spearheaded by Fire residents Mikey D, The Sharp Boys, Fat Tony & Lee Harris, while the second space will have a definite Onyx “Pop”, feel to it, residents Tasty Tim, Jason Prince & James St James joined by Gaydar Radio’s Alex Taylor. Then across in room three it’s all about RnB, as Queer Nation’s Big John Freeman Jeffrey Hinton & promoter Patrick Lilley take charge, the fourth space given away to the very cute Ku Bar boys & resident jock DouGuim. Plus, Fire have secured two terrific P.A.’s, Elloitte Williams, famed for the massive hit “Pride (A Deeper Love)”, while Sharlene Hector will also perform her hit “Sunshine Into My Life” and we are also told to expect a very special guest. So, with diversity very much the name of the game & Liberation attracting the glitterati of the Pride Festival, Fire looks set to host Pride’s best “official” party yet, advance tickets available online only at http://fire.clubtickets.com/gb/2011-07/02/liberation-pride-party priced at £12, with door entry at £15, those doors opening to the main event from 11 p.m. & the night running through till 6 a.m.
Across at Area & it’s about chunky, hunky & funky action as big brand Bear Necessity rolls into town for a Pride special party , welcoming special gust Nick Tcherniak to the main room decks, he being joined by Bear Necessity London resident Micky Galliano, while over in the chapel room it will be all about Tonker, head honcho Tim Jones taking turns spinning the sounds with fellow bear brute Paul Coals, while Bruno Knight’s 21st Century men will be spilling the brawn, a line up of the hottest bear god go-go’s gyrating in the many podiums across both rooms, while a special stage show should set the whole event alight with action & compliment the touch tech & dance music. Add to that special host for the night, the attractive Andy Garcia , aka Dr Woof, along with a special pre-party at Tonker on Friday (1st July), Megawoof’s Tim Mcloone taking to The Eagle decks, and the all-in package advance tickets priced at just £14 are already selling like hot cakes and are available at http://clubtickets.com/gb/2011-07/02/bear-necessity-london-pride, while if you choose just the main party at Area, which kicks off at an early 9 p.m., then the £10 options are also available, while entry will be available on the door, but for more. Now, as the venue will need to prepare for the massive Beyond “Super Pride” party, Bear Necessity will run until 5 a.m. & not into Beyond as before.
However, despite these two amazing attractions, both which should draw their own crowds, there is no escaping the fact that the big party of the weekend (we reckon the second biggest) will be WE party, which, following the massive roadblock sell-out of “WE Candy”, is expected to be a repeat, this “WE Heroes” event having created a real buzz literally days after the last party. And for good reason, as it is clear this brilliant brand has taken over from where SuperMartXe left off, The Coronet proving both a popular & perfect home for the huge lighting, laser & stage installations that WE has become renowned for. So, whilst we are expecting amazing things from this latest party in terms of the stage shows & all the effects that will surely make it one of THE most prolific parties of the Gay Pride weekend, it is the music which should make this “Heroes” happening a real winner. So who can you expect to marvel you with their scintilating sounds?, well it goes without saying that Spain’s best import, Carlos Gallardo, will be making a rapturous return, WE party never quite the same without his inclusion, while he will be joined by our very own Italian Stallion, Pagano, who plays for WE in the capital for the first time & should go down a storm, especially as he seems to excel on the big stage, London WE residents Gonzalo Rivas & D’Johnny completing the current line-up. But the really exciting news for us, is the inclusion of PA Shawnee Taylor, who will no doubt be performing her massive new release “Stronger”, a track that has quickly established itself as the Pitron/DM anthem and is spreading across the dancefloors of the clubbing world like wildfire. Now, given the positioning & size of this event, we expect it to be a complete sell-out, which means you need to grab your tickets fast, advance £18 ones available online at http://wepartylondon.com, similarly priced tickets on sales at Soho outlets Prowler, Clone Zone, 50 & Solarstation, as well as The Yard, Rupert St & Profile Bar(s). However, if you leave it to get in on the doors, which open at 11 p.m., then expect to pay more & be prepared to get there early as if the last event was anything to go by, the queue will be massive, this latest WE party running through to a planned 7 a.m.
Now, as we head onto the next & what looks like the biggest party of the weekend, we suspect that many of you WE party goers will want to head to Beyond too, the terrific team headed up by Tom Fuller having laid on transport you from The Coronet to Area, the convoy of coaches leaving from 6 a.m. & setting you down at Area, all for the very reasonable price of £5. But here is the real deal clincher on this, as that £5 & coach trip will not only get you free coatcheck for up to two items, but it will also gain you fast track entry into the club, the Barcode side of this Beyond “Super Pride” party set aside for coach arrivals only. However, you will need to be in receipt of a ticket for Beyond, advance online ones at £15 available at http://area.clubtickets.com/gb/2011-07/03/beyond, while the usual outlets in Soho (see above) have tickets on sale too. However, for those of you that don’t manage either, then never fear as £20 ones will be on sale at WE, so keep your eyes peeled for Tom & his team.
So to Beyond, all roads surely leading to Area come Sunday morning (3rd June), the road slightly widened as the club once again joins forces with Barcode to make this a super sized “Super Pride” event. Now for those of you that missed out on Beyond “Super Size” on the last Bank Holiday weekend, then prepare to be amazed & impressed with all that extra space both inside & out, Area’s & Barcode’s frontages combined to make one huge alfresco hangout from the hectic happenings inside, while the usual Beyond three dancefloors will be increased to five with the addition of Barcode’s front & back spaces. In terms of the D.J. line up, we can confirm that the following Beyond all stars will be present, the main room spearheaded by Steve Pitron, he joined by Mikey D, The Sharp Boys & Gonzalo Rivas, while The Chapel Room will sport Paul Christian & D’Johnny, The Terrace space most likely the domain of Jamie Head, The Oli & Fat Tony. However, with the additional two spaces next door to consider, names in the frame include Alessandro Londra, Ariel, Onyx’s promoter Verity Meyes & Beyond promoter Jonny Marsh, although as yet no news on any Barcode D.J.’s. Now, it has to be said that we are far from keen with the idea of a club promoter also D.J.’ing, especially as in this case, Beyond’s super size will need its promoter in the spotlight, but we suspect Mr Marsh will be drawing on additional talent to compliment the line-up, so watch this space for news on that. However, what you can expect of this “Super Pride” event is “…more space, more music, more dancers, more effects, more everything!..,” and Beyond itself will be digging into its own pockets to donate £1 per person to Pride, to keep this festival free. As for the detail, Beyond opens its doors at 6 a.m. the club running through till 1 p.m., online tickets available at http://area.clubtickets.com/gb/2011-07/03/beyond, priced at £15, along with sales at Prowler, Clone Zone 50, Rupert St & The Yard in Soho & Barcode in Vauxhall, a reminder of this & last minute detail on both Beyond & WE “Heroes” coming your way via an Extra Bites post later this week.
Next up in the all things Orange Pride weekend line-up is Later on Sunday afternoon (3rd July), who roll out one of their infamous “Funfair” parties, this Pride devoted one sure to be popular, especially if the sun is shining. With the team turning out all those fabulous funfair rides, some in miniature scale, the helter skelter is sure to prove a winner again, while the extensive outside space will be packed with revellers who will want to take respite from a sequence of parties already counting seven. But there will be no rest for the wicked inside, as promoter Jay Sharp leans on his towering residents team to turn out truck loads of tech toned tunes, with dollops of dance to delight, D.J.’s The Oli, Paul Martin, Jamie Head, & D’Johnny, sure to pack out the place, advance £8 tickets on sale online only at http://fire.clubtickets.com/gb/2011-07/03/the-later-funfair-pride-party, while entry on the door is priced at £10, although discount stamps will be on offer at Beyond, so make sure you check with Area’s door staff before you head across to Fire. Plus, all Later entrants will be able to get their hands on a free (yes free!) ticket to the “The Only Way Is Orange” Gay Pride closing party.
So that neatly moves onto Orange who, after hosting some of the biggest & most successful Bank Holiday parties this year, have been invited to officially close Gay Pride proceedings this coming weekend, opening their doors on Sunday (3rd July) at 11 p.m., the club running for a massive eight hours until 9 a.m. on Monday morning, promoter Steven Sharp & his team pulling out all the stops to make sure this is a party for Pride to be proud of. And looking at the D.J. line-up, there is lots to savour, the main room masterminded by the famed Orange “Citrus All-Star” residents Paul Martin, The Oli & The Sharp Boys, although the duo of Fat Tony & Tonnic should prove a crowd draw & pleaser too. Add to that shows from Elektra Paris & her dance troupe, while the gregarious Glendora will no doubt attract a flock of followers as she hosts like no other. But it doesn’t stop there as the Orange RAW room will be on duty too, original residents David Jimenez & Gonzalo Rivas welcoming extra special guest Nick Tcherniak to the fold, Nick making his second appearance in this special space. As for entry, it seems that if you make it to any of the Orange Group parties across the weekend & keeps your eyes closely peeled for special free entry passes, then this closing party will prove as a massive thank you for supporting the group & Pride itself. However, if not then £10 advance ticket are available online at http://fire.clubtickets.com/, while a limited number of £5 tickets will be handed out at the Fire Dance Stage post parade celebrations, standard Orange entry prices of £12 before midnight & £15 thereafter applying.
However, whilst Orange officially closes the Pride weekend, it isn’t quite over as Tuesday morning madness Open makes a rare return to London afterhours clubbing for, in the words of the promotions team, “…the party to end all parties!…” and we highly expect that it will, especially for those that don’t have any work commitments on Tuesday (5th July), the club opening at 5 a.m. & running through to an advertised “superlate” timing, which in translation probably means 11 a.m., while this party is also aimed at those scene workers how have toiled away across the weekend, Open giving them an opportunity to let their hair down, now the hard work is behind them. As for the D.J. line up, well none other than Gonzalo Rivas will headline the neat & tidy team of talents, Mr Rivas treating us to a “classic” set that will no doubt include a mixture of the vast genre of sounds within his amazing armoury, while The Sharp Boys, George & Steven, who incidentally are co-promoting this event, will also feature, with guests yet to be announced, but possibly to include DouGuim & Fat Tony. Entry to the club is just £3 before 7 a.m. with a flyer, while for scene staff with suitable I.D., it’s just £2, the Open team out on the streets of Soho on Monday night, handing out special discount flyers, more info available at http://freclub.co.uk/gayparties.
So, that’s The Orange Group’s biggest Gay Pride weekend yet in a nutshell, well not quite a nutshell, more the most comprehensive guide you will find anywhere and testament to the fact that this clubbing company is making a massive contribution to London’s Pride Festival, both in terms of offering clubbers a complete experience from Friday through Tuesday & very much underpinning this “Outstanding Orange Offer” which includes some of the capitals best clubbing brands & artists. Therefore, it goes without saying that we will be joining Craig Elder & his team across this prolific Pride weekend of clubbing & hope that you will also “Go There! Be There! (DISCO MATT)