Once upon a time…

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…many moons ago I was a DJ – I’ve played in front of thousands of screaming, jumping people and headlined at major London clubs. I played in abandoned warehouses in cities and big tops in the depths of the countryside – squatted, seedy pubs in Hackney and railway arches in Waterloo. Aging pier ballrooms and ancient forests have shaken to the sounds of our sound system pounding out a funky, 4/4 beat…

The path to becoming a DJ was a gradual slide that went with the lifestyle. Personally I blame my parents. They housed me in caravans for half of my childhood so it was only natural to continue that trend and buy a bus when I left school. I went ‘on the road’ meeting likeminded travellers around England and across Europe. I started to go to the free festivals and worked where the seasons took me – hops, potatoes, apples, blackcurrants – whatever and wherever my bus would take me. Then one weekend I went to a DIY party and my life changed forever. DIY were a collective from Nottingham – a sound system and some DJ’s. They were accompanied by a posse of travellers known as the free party people who created the environment, ran the bars and brought in the punters and ravers from the local towns and cities. It was an amazing weekend that inspired and illuminated my life.

There was nothing going on like that in the South East of England (where I was spending most of my time by then) so myself, my brother and a couple of friends took the ‘do it yourself’ ethos and (over a table full of drinks) came up with the cunning plan to create a sound system ourselves. We hired sounds and borrowed decks, pestered local DJ’s and scribbled a flyer. We had a meeting place and a convoy and Aphrodisiac was born. 300 people turned up and had the best nights of their lives. A few weeks later we did another party by which time me and Tiggz had bought decks and made a start at learning to play. Things snowballed over the next few years – the parties got bigger and better (and luckily so did our DJing) – our posse got stronger and more together and we became experts at criminal justice procedure and dodging police intervention. We were renegades and rogues and we just didn’t care…

Eventually the criminal justice bill went through and despite frontlining at many demonstrations and marches nothing could be done. The time of the New Age Traveller was over and so was the time of the free party. We moved into clubs for a while sharing the stage with the Digweeds and Sashas of the world but they were a different race of people with different motives and mindsets and for me the party was over.

I finally took my bus to Portugal where it wasn’t a crime to live in a vehicle and fell in love with the country and the lifestyle it had to offer me. The parties continued over here but the music and the vibe had gone decidedly dark for my tastes so I hung up my headphones and put the lid on my decks.

I’m writing this as I put the finishing touches to my first dance record (just a decade too late to make my fortune) and I’m planning to play some tunes next summer in the bars of Peniche. Maybe Aphrodisiac will re-emerge – maybe we’ll find that funky party vibe. We’ll definitely have some fun looking…

I didn’t surf today.

10 Replies to “Once upon a time…”

  1. hey there penfold! πŸ˜‰
    perhaps, i can have a demo cd from you then! cool! ooh, really so so cool!

    kudos to you, dear penfold! *twirl happily to the beat, once played by penfold*

  2. tears…lots…time lost and chances missed. if we have a yuletide drink you better bring some tissues my fine man. xxxxx sorry to all but no happy/bimbo comment came to mind. x

  3. dont apologise sweetcheeks – too much peroni and the whole end of year thang and i get overcome with emulsion! sorry all xxxx
    cant wait to hear your toons. As for Ray and James, ‘I dont need no doctor’ might just swing it in ray’s favour πŸ˜‰ x

  4. have I mentioned before that my son is a dj?

    (a rather well known one too, but I won’t link to his webpage because I’m still trying to keep the gimcrack anonymous and he links back to me)

    just another thing that daddyp and I have in common. hang on, it’s the ONLY thing we have in common. I am nothing like your father πŸ™‚

  5. Tweeny – you are so right. But then I think most things are more fun than grouting…

    Nursie – email me a link I’d love to check out his site!
    I’m exceedingly glad you are nothing like my father as I have no wish to see him in a corset and stockings… xxx

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