My mate Allan had his 50th birthday this weekend and pulled a mini festival together to mark the occasion.
For those of you who don’t know him, Allan is a top bloke and I consider myself very lucky indeed to call him a true friend. We’ve been putting on parties together for years – particularly FIRE parties of which we did over 50 together. More recently we’ve been doing a radio show together called RIFE radio (to which we’ve just done over 40.. show 40 has recently been chucked up the clouds – give it a listen). He’s also owner of an exceptionally good PA/AV Hire company. He knows his audio and visual onions.
We piggy backed the occasion with our 13th wedding anniversary being on the same day as his 50th, and had assembled between us, a battalion of happy campers. Due to the inclement weather forecast, I suspect a few of the fair weather campers didn’t show but this didn’t hinder matters. We had a goodly number and new people drifting in and out all weekend. Set on the site of DragonGate Festival – a field just outside Harrogate, a large scaffold and truss tent acted as the village hall and a communal fire pit was dug outside (setting the turf to one side for ‘leave no trace’ repairs). One of the sides of the structure was left open so it didn’t feel like two separated places – rather one place with an inside bit and an outside but.
It was two parties back to back. The nights were the main event, but the day times (when not hiding from sudden and quite rude outbursts of rain yesterday) were tip top. Friday night was a different crowd to Saturday. Both nights though involved a whole load of DJing from me and way cool others. I really got into DJing on Saturday night and played possibly one of the best 2 hour sets I’ve ever done. I’d been playing earlier in the day as well, along with Martin Dodsworth, who drifted in and out of dub reggae, delving into some Latin.
The transition from day to night yesterday happened with the help of Jack, our friends son, who we’ve known since he was born. Him and his mate (on guitar) played some beautiful tunes – bags of charisma, they could go far. Their set inspired a multi guitar jam round the fire session, with a bit of cajon anchoring. The decks (inevitably) took over again as it started getting dark. Harrogate Legend DJ Trev (pictured above) rocked up on Saturday with some fantastic vintage house and techno. He’d spent the day digging deep into his archives – he span a bunch of early early acid house and rave anthems – some quirky tunes that I kind of remembered from those hazy days. It’s great to see someone who’s doing something for a living doing it for pleasure. He’s a real master craftsman behind the decks, and has an encyclopedic knowledge of music, yet, like so many DJs these days, is a slave to the rather ‘safe’ music policy, prescribed by his employers. It was great seeing him being ‘allowed’ to do his own thing.
I jumped on the decks after him – an odd crowd to play for – a mixture of all sorts of tastes – from very switched on electro fans to rock heads. A mix of all sorts of head-states – I wasn’t sure if I should play form the arsenal of CDs marked ‘Drunken Cheese’ or the much bigger arsenal of EDM – from mellow tripped out house to banging techno, mainly collated and purchased for Rife Radio, but also a back catalog of FIRE sets. I also had a bunch of Funk and a sprinkle of random. I went with everything from Patrick Lindsey to Johnny McEldoo. It’s always best when you can play with no expectations, when you can play just what you want (which was mainly House). Much fun.
The daytimes were good – yesterday morning I felt the roughest I’ve felt in I don’t know how long yet oddly enough, haven’t felt that bad today. Nice vibes during the day – lots of sitting around chatting. I chucked on some very laid back music to help the camp potter around and pack up to. A bunch of old friends in a field and a smattering of new friends. Tip top party. All the kids had fun and the dogs – 7 boy dogs in total, and an Elsie dog loved it.
One of the worst bits about a big party is ‘the get out’. Putting all of your toys back in the box. Today, largely due to the strength in numbers volunteer rostrum this was a fairly quick and painless operation – we were home by mid afternoon, all stinking of wood fire and slightly sun-kissed from a weekend outside.
The bar has been set quite high. I wonder how he’ll top it for his 100th?