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My First Club: John Digweed

The rave bug bites Diggers in the sleepy town of Hastings.
October 21, 2015, 7:47pm

My introduction to clubland and night culture was not in London, Manchester, or Brighton. DJ Terry Johns showed me my first nightclub in my home town of Hastings when I was just 13 years old. That day changed my life and I knew from that moment on I wanted to be a DJ.

Who would have thought that in the 80s, a sleepy town like Hastings could have a venue like Downtown Saturdays, a club with a Richard Long-inspired custom sound system built by Keith Hardy. I remember Keith talking about this system in NYC and how incredible the sound was. The next time I saw speakers like that was when the Ministry of Sound opened in the 90s. Downtown Saturdays would also play host to bands before they blew up, including Tears for Fears, Haircut 100, and Divine.

How to DJ With Integrity, According to John Digweed

At Downtown Saturdays, a Brighton DJ called Barry Page used to mix like a wizard for five hours straight, twice a week. He would have the most eclectic set of tunes, ranging from new wave to electro to the latest US imports. I learned so much from watching him play and mixing his selections together. This was before acid house and there no guest DJs, just residents. I would watch Barry DJ every chance I had. Once I became his friend, he would allow me to play for the first hour when the club opened. Going from playing in my bedroom to playing on a big sound system was a huge step, but it also gave me the confidence to play in front of a crowd.

I became one of the resident DJs there when I was 18. I was expected to go down during the day, clean the DJ booth, check the sound system, and fix any lights that were not working. When acid house started to take over, the club owner decided to remodel the club in a more commercial direction. By this time, I had been bitten by the rave bug and was organizing the Bedrock parties. I was also setting my sights on playing the new and exciting scene across the south coast of London. I learned so much in that period—how to run a nightclub and program and pace my sets; I would say if I had not gone through this period I would not be where I am today.

John Digweed will be playing at Uniun Nightclub in Toronto on 10/23 and Stereo in Montreal on 10/24. Tickets and info are available through his official website.

John Digweed is on Facebook // Twitter