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, and Shadow Child, we caught up with Rinse FM's resident house-head Billon for a tricky zip down the motorway of memory.
To be totally honest, I can't actually remember the exact first time I set foot in a nightclub. I grew up in a small town called Stroud in the Cotswold countryside. For such a small town it had quite a lot of clubs — there were three or four, I think — and illegal raves were popping off pretty much ever weekend in the surrounding area. The 'club' me and my friends found ourselves drawn to time and time again was a place called the Zone. It was a snooker hall in the back of a pub that had blacked out windows and UV paint splattered all over the walls. As much fun as we had there, Fabric it wasn't.
Thinking about it properly, my first proper clubbing experience, the one that's worth talking about, was at a venue called the Trinity Centre in St Pauls, Bristol. For those that aren't familiar with it, The Trinity is a church built in the 1800s which was repurposed as a community centre and music venue in the 1970s, and is still used for those purposes today. Artists like Massive Attack, Portisthead, Smith & Mighty and Roni Size have all performed at there over the years and it has played a big part in Bristol's musical history.
When I was about 15 my brother, who was heavily into D&B and jungle, told me that he and a few mates were going to drive down to Bristol to a night at the Trinity Centre. They were all a year or two older than me and had done a fair bit of raving by that point. Kindly he invited me along anyway. My memory is pretty hazy but I'm pretty sure the night was called Mutiny and the line up consisted of DJ Hype, Roni Size, DJ Die and Brokie.
Things started badly. Just before we set off on the 30-odd mile drive down to the city, in a friend's brown Ford Fiesta, we stopped off at another mate's house to pick him up. We jumped out of the whip and were about to nip in for a piss, but as we did another car came out of nowhere and took our vehicle's passenger door clean off. Amazingly no one was injured. After exchanging details with the other driver we realized that, shit, this was really going to fuck our night up. After a good 15 minutes of weighing up possibilities, one of our mates suggested that we just tie the door back on with a length of electrical wire we found in the boot of the car. By looping the cable through the sunroof and the window of the door we were able to reattach the door and set of down the M5 to Bristol.
So there we were, four guys hurtling down the motorway in a Fiesta with it's door tied on by rope. Needless to say the car didn't have sound system so we had brought along a battery operated boom box that was pumping out some tape packs or one of our own mix tapes. I can remember arriving at the club and walking all the way around it in the dark to find the entrance, before somehow managing to convince the people on the door I was over 18. I made it in. I looked up some pictures of the Trinity Centre while writing this and it looks like it has been recently refurbished — they've slicked it up!
Back then, there was a really low ceiling in the main room, and sweat dropped down from it like indoor rain. It was also pitch black. Utterly pitch black. I feel like any description I have of the experience will descend into cliche, but hey, the vibe in the place was incredible. The heat that steamed off the dancefloor combined with the insane volume of the music made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. The DJs were playing tune after tune of amazing stuff I had never heard.
Lot's of other stuff happened that night which I've been advised not to talk about, but still, I'll never forget it. It fuelled my hunger for clubbing and dance music in general. I started going to Bristol every couple of weeks and eventually quite a few of my mates moved there. Clubs like Lakota, Thekla and The Black Swan were regular haunts. Although I never actually lived there myself, Bristol played a big part in my musical journey and I still love going back there.
Funnily enough I ran into the guy who owned the Ford Fiesta in London last week for the first time in about six years. The brown car eventually got a new silver door and will be forever know as the Silver Wing…
"Slave to the Vibe" is forthcoming on Rinse