Michael Mayer's First Club: Lions, Tigers, and Christian Youth Centers

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Michael Mayer's First Club: Lions, Tigers, and Christian Youth Centers

We caught up with the Komapkt boss for a wander down memory lane and found out all about the time he ruined Christmas.

My First Club takes us back to the beginning, transporting DJs and producers back into the depths of their memory, asking them to take us on a trip to those pivotal first nights in clubland. Following entries from the likes of Eats Everything, Herve, MK, Slimzee, and Hudson Mohawke, we caught up with Kompakt boss Michael Mayer at the wonderful Oasis Festival in Marrakech for a wander into a Christian youth center and a swimming pool equipped super club. (We're also teaming up with New York's Blkmarket crew to give away tickets and signed Kompakt 15CDs at their boat party on September 26—which Mayer is headlining. See below for details.)

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My first clubbing experience wasn't in Cologne. I was an early bloomer when it came to discotheques. I would have been 12 years old and i was allowed to go to this kind of kiddy disco party at the local Christian youth centre on a Sunday afternoon. That was the moment that changed my life. I can firmly say that. It was the first time I was exposed to music at a higher volume than what I was used to at home. There was a DJ there who was actually mixing records. There were strobes, a disco ball. Everything you need for a club!

That was the best thing I'd ever experienced. I was so happy that I couldn't stop dancing. I was like a fish to water. My memories are slightly fuzzy now after all these years, but as this was Germany in the 80s I'm sure what I wore that night was terrible. I was probably wearing chinos. Like the ones that DJ Harvey's wearing over there. [DJ Harvey was sat at the table next to us, looking very, very cool in a pair of faded green chinos - Ed]

I knew right away that I wanted to be the DJ. I looked at him in the youth club and knew immediately that this was what I wanted to do for a living. At the time I was already taping a lot of music off the radio so I was a kind of cassette DJ already and then I started spending every penny I had on buying records. I was doing paper rounds just to pay for my habit. I started running my own little disco, as it were. For me, in the beginning, the lights were just as important as the music. I was lucky enough to have room in my parents basement which kind of became my laboratory and I'd experiment with electricity. Sometimes to great effect, sometimes not. I vividly remember one Christmas and my mum was in the middle of preparing the dinner and I blew the main fuse in the house. I was the man who ruined Christmas!

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Read: Michael Mayer: The Crown Prince of Sad, Soft Techno

At first I played on my own but I soon teamed up with a guy who played out at weddings. He had an organ and some speakers. That was the missing link. We ran this little disco party together. We did birthday parties, school parties. There was a little money involved. Just to run the smoke machine.

I guess the first proper club I went to was this super club, an 80s super club, called Drops. The DJ and laser operator of that place lived in my neighbourhood and he'd occasionally give me recordings of the nights there. I wore them out. It was italo disco stuff, mainly. When I was 16 I was allowed to go there for a Sunday teadance party.

The club was an entertainment centre really. It has three floors. A swimming pool. An amazing light show. They even had a lion and a tiger behind a glass wall. At some point during the night the curtains would open and there'd they'd be. A lion and a tiger clawing at the dancefloor. That place was the temple of my dreams. I'll never forget dancing there. Amongst the lions and tigers.

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Michael Mayer is headlining a Blkmarket Membership boat party in New York City this Saturday, September 26. Enter the contest below to win a ticket to the bash—where you'll also receive a copy of the Kompakt 15 compilation CD signed by Mayer and Blond:ish.

Gone Boating with Michael Mayer x Blond:ish  (Contest on Hive.co)