Tag Archives: Lakeside

Day 44 – Lakeside FM

Last night’s disco at Lakeside was a strange one.

It was a wedding for a couple who, I think, were on their second marriage, so were a little older than most first-times couples. So their friends and families were also a bit older than most wedding parties.

I should have realised at the beginning of the night that it could be a difficult gig when the bride told me that she and her husband had never danced together in the two years that they had been together. I told her not to worry and that I would encourage others to get up and join them during the first dance song.  Anyway, we sorted out what the first dance song was to be and I went back to my DJ lair up in the rafters.

I started the night, as usual, by playing some fairly laid back background music while the guests came upstairs into the room. Almost no-one ever dances from the word “go”, so even though I dropped in songs from the current chart back to the 60s, and pretty well every time period between, I wasn’t too concerned when no-one got up to trip the light fantastic. Even when the laid back bit stretched through to the buffet, I wasn’t that bothered.

Just before the buffet was ready, word came that they would like to do the first dance. I swiftly pulled out the CD with Michael Jackson’s “I can’t stop loving you”, cued up the longish intro and did my normal big build up. As usual, we got the round of applause for the happy couple’s first dance and as the music got under way, the camera flashes signalled that the moment was being captured for posterity.

A minute or so into the song, I invited the rest of the party to join the bride and groom and for a stunned moment, nobody moved and the bride and groom started to leave the floor. Grabbing my microphone, I stopped them from sitting down again and eventually two or three other couples joined them on the dance floor.

As soon as Micheal Jackson faded away and I did my back announcement, the dance floor cleared and stayed that way for the rest of the night. I don’t count the young children who spent time dodging the moving lights or the one woman who went up to try to get a two-year old to dance.

So the whole gig was conducted at lower sound level than normal. Although I was effectively background Muzak, it was very liberating not to have to sustain a packed dance floor, but to dig out lots of good songs that I hadn’t played in a while. My whole style of presentation was more like a radio show than a disco and I did, at one point, actually say, “Lakeside FM”.

We have another gig tomorrow night in Huthwaite which is a 40th Wedding Anniversary and 60th Birthday party. Even though our key instruction is for no flashing lights, I am looking forward to this one. By my reckoning it could be a bit of a sixties / seventies night, but I’ll let you know how we get on.

I guess we’re now into the Easter weekend, please accept my best wishes for a great holiday.

Ride Safe


Day 33 – Remember the 60s?

The great quote, “If you can remember the 60s, you weren’t there” has been attributed to a lot of different people, including actor Robin Williams and both Grace Slick and Paul Kanter of Jefferson Airplane.

I was there and I do remember a lot about the 60s; being aged 7 at the dawn of 1960 and 17 at the other end of that decade. In particular, I remember a lot about the music of that decade and play it as much as I can get away with when I get behind the nowadays metaphorical “wheels of steel”.

That’s not to say that I don’t like a lot of music that both pre and post-dates the 60s. In particular, 70s music has lots of resonance from things that I did and people I used to hang around with at that time. 

The early 80s was my student period. New Order’s Blue Monday and Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s Pleasuredome album still bring a smile to me face for the times that they evoke rather than for the music itself.

The last 20 years are rather less embedded into my psyche, but as someone who is still making a small part of my living out of playing music, I have a pretty good collection of music from the 90s and 00s as well.

I suppose that when I started DJing (at a school christmas party in 1967), I could never have dreamed that I would still be enjoying seeing a dance floor full of people having a great time some 42 and a bit years later.

So for lots of reasons, I had a great time last night at Lakeside.

The gig was a 60th birthday party and they adopted a 60s theme. So most people were dressed in their interpretation of 1960s clothes and I played 60s music all night.

I’m not sure that I could do 5 hours of 90s music and have as much fun, but I had so much great music to go at that it wasn’t until we got back home that Sue commented that I hadn’t played one Beatles track.

As for those 1960s clothes, it was clear that the nearest that many of the people at the party had ever been to the 1960s was an Austin Powers film. I never wore as much brightly coloured paisley as was on offer, although some of the wigs were suitably long and wild.

It’s perhaps no surprise that one of the standout tracks of the evening was a regular in almost every gig I ever play, Martha Reeves and the Vandellas Tamla Motown classic, Dancing in the Street.  The letdown track was when the floor almost cleared when I played James Brown’s Sex Machine.

Other unusual, but well received songs were The Crazy World of Arthur Brown – Fire, The Archies – Sugar Sugar andPetula Clark – Don’t Sleep In The Subway.

As you can see, Pete Tong has little to fear from the competition posed by DJ Chuffinghog.

Ride Safe

Adventures On The Wheels Of Steel

After a weekend when the bike hasn’t been out of the garage and we haven’t been near the railway, it’s time to pick up the third element of that strap line above and to tell you a little about the importance of music in our lives. For us, it’s a lot more than the “food of love“, it also provides us with part of the income that goes to support the bikes and trains. However, I have never been talented enough to be a performer, so many years ago I had to settle for putting together the fruits of other peoples’ talents into some kind of sequence and using my own limited skills to link it all together to entertain people.

That must be most long-winded description of being a DJ that you’ll find anywhere, but it’s pretty accurate.

My DJ career started when I was still in school when I did my first gig at a sixth form party in the school Hall at the old Long Eaton Grammar School. I wasn’t allowed to actually put the records onto the (single) turntable, but was entrusted with a microphone and stood in front of the curtains to introduce each song while the school band was getting ready to play.

From this auspicious start, I graduated to providing free entertainment alongside my friend and work colleague, Terry Francis. we both worked at the Marconi company in Chelmsford, Essex and our DJ experience was built up at the Christian Coffee Club in Rochford. This was really a church-based youth club that tolerated us for a few months. When I returned to the Midlands, I managed to save up enough cash to buy my own first set of equipment. I wish I had photos of that set-up, bought from RSC in Derby. Amazingly I still have the 100 Watt mono amplifier from that period.

I then built up a huge amount of experience, and an enormous following of disco-goers at Long Eaton Sea Scout HQ, where I was resident DJ almost every Saturday night for quite a number of years. There must be very many couples in the town who met at the Sea Scout discos and whose children may well now be members of the cubs, scouts or guides in the same building. [Long Eaton Sea Scouts appear to have no website, so I can’t provide a link.]

Along the way, I had always had an interest in radio and have had quite a lot of experience “on the air”. That’s another tale for another post.

As well as these residencies, I have always enjoyed taking the gear out to parties, weddings and other events and have probably played at all the venues in Long Eaton as well as very many in the surrounding areas.

After a year or so working in a record shop, I went to Nottingham University at the end of the 1970s where I did a lot of radio and live DJing.

When I moved into Nottingham several years ago, I decided to stop this nonsense and become a mature adult. I either sold or gave away my equipment, but couldn’t quite bring myself to get rid of my record collection (thank goodness). So when we decided to go back on the road, we had to re-equip with more modern gear and thousands of CDs! These days we still do the occasional purely mobile booking, but have taken on a residency at Lakeside. At some point, I must put up a post with some pictures of this remarkable building.

It’s amazing that more than 40 years on from that school disco, I am still able to feel the buzz that I have always had when I press the start button on a music track and see a crowd of people having a great time on the dance floor.

Ride Safe