WEEKENDER REVIEW 2009
Most people already know the history of the Vocal Booth, anyone not entirely familiar can get the background here
(if you are not on facebook I suggest you open an account simply to view the amazing photos taken by all).
It has always been my dream to bring people to this lovely area to experience the music in these glorious surroundings, however my hectic schedule and time wasting on the Xbox and Facebook has always put plans on the back burner.
One day earlier this year, during a rather hyped up radio show (I think alcohol may have been involved) I announced “that was it… however or whenever possible The Vocal Booth WOULD be putting on a party in Spain for all the crew to join us”.
As I thought about it more and more it occurred to me that it was 10 years since the brand launched, what better excuse and angle for a party !?
As the weeks progressed more and more people expressed an interest, I was sure we’d get a small gathering of “the family” together to have some fun in the sun, about 75 I thought. I could have never wished for the response we finally got.
Putting things into place would be easy, or so I thought. I had the perfect location in mind in the perfect town, right on the beach with all the amenities any visitor could ask for. The hotel 525 had an amazing function room on it’s roof overlooking a swimming pool and Jacuzzi with the Mar Menor in the distance.
Unfortunately, the hotel manager didn’t have the vision to allow us to have the party there, in hindsight he did us a favour, it only holds around 75 people.
Next I approached a different venue I had played at the previous year, a beautiful looking spot a few doors down from Varazu. After a brief chat with the owner’s son, all was in place from June 09. Throughout the summer I popped back in to see the management, who kept assuring me there would be no issues at all, we could have the venue for both nights at the beginning of October, a time when the season was over and the town was more or less deserted.
I proceeded to contact all the members of “the family”, consisting of DJs primarily off Pressure radio that support me in the chat room every week, as well as a couple of others who’s music I support regularly. Everyone was well up for the party, so I put the line up together. As time drew near, I had the idea for the personalised membership cards, the lanyards, the programme, the T shirts, the limousine for the DJs, the daytime party at the San Antonio. I couldn’t go to print with anything until I had confirmed the finer points with the main venue… the finer points being finances. Of course, an event of this magnitude has costs, costs which I didn’t see fair asking the people visiting to pay, I knew how much these people had committed to already for flights and accommodation. I also knew how much my people would be drinking and how much profit the bar would make, so why shouldn’t they pay?
When I mentioned these costs to the management, they seemed shocked and reluctant to pay a penny, bearing in mind I wasn’t even asking them for anything like my own DJ fee, I was surprised by this reaction. They told me they would have to find a sponsor and that I must wait. This was now 4 weeks to the event !
Numbers were growing daily of people that had confirmed flights and hotel rooms were being allocated and villas and apartments filled, I knew we had a great party lined up but needed to get moving with promoting the event locally. I wasn’t expecting a great deal of local interest, as I have already pointed out, this area isn’t exactly the most musically educated , but with a selection of local DJs on the line up I knew the right people would make the effort once they knew about it. All the time people were getting more and more excited in the chat room and I had to keep a brave face on the fact that we didn’t have a venue. Eventually after much bullshit with the first venue, I decided to cut my losses and approach Varazu.
Convincing the management of Varazu that I could bring the numbers to the club I was talking about, and how much money the bar would make on drinks, was very difficult. To their credit, after a day of talking it over they agreed to put their faith in me, and we were in business.
From 3 weeks before the event took place it was all systems go to get the flyers/posters/radio adverts and everything else produced and into place. Working closely with our designer the final draft for the flyer & poster was drawn up. I approached companies for the membership cards and started the ball rolling there. The weather decided to deliver the worst rainfall in decades, and anything else that could have happened to hold things up, did, so that the final week of the preparations and living with me was hell.
In the end, the T-shirts arrived on the day of the pre-party, with the membership cards arriving a day late and 5 minutes before they were due to be handed out to everyone at the registration meeting, meaning all my organisation and planning to make things run smoothy went well and truly out of the window.
Kicking off the pre-party on Thursday night, we started at Ronda 8, a small bar not far from the Hotel 525. I expected around 40 of the family to be with us that night, and the plan was to present the show live from there on the internet and have a few drinks in readiness for the weekend. I forgot just how excited many people were, and what ensued was nothing short of carnage. My suggestion for people to pace themselves clearly fell on deaf ears. We rocked through to the early hours with myself, DJ Euge, Greg Dorban, Blackwax & Kid Creole representing with sets. Each and every person across the entire weekend more than delivered, and this warm up night was no exception. I couldn’t really pay much attention to the chat room, but I knew that the people ready to fly out the next day were well in their zone.
Spending the day poolside on the roof of the 525, I caught up with people as they arrived and drifted off in a daydream as to how things were going to go and to make sure I had all bases covered. Sound check @ 5pm was followed by registration @ 7pm. Why is it that things that should take 40 minutes always run over by double, just when you don’t need them to?
Rush to the registration meeting, late, welcomed by over 100 smiling faces, all smiling except me.. stressed out to the maximum. I thought I had a fool proof system in place to get everyone registered, collect their pass & VIP keyring, weekend programme and T shirts. It kind of went smoothly, with the help of Paul Groove and Mr ‘B-Roc’ Brown, although it most definitely could have been a lot better.
Finish registration @ 7.45pm. By the time I had grabbed a quick bite to eat it was time to get Sarah Favoritizm from the villa she was staying in. Drove there way too fast, picked her up, drove her PAST the club to the hotel where a stretch limousine was waiting for her. Put her in the limo, followed the limo to the club, made sure all was go from 9pm for the live broadcast, raced back to the hotel to put the next set of people in the Limo (I think it was the Pressure family up next). I was also meant to be aided by Mr Paul Groove throughout all this, but he had overdone it a little and had to go have a lie down.. I had no such luxury for another hour, when I finally got to my hotel room I merely had time for a shower and then back to it. During all of this, people were meant to be meeting at Sand Bar, where they would be placed onto a road train that would transport them the short distance to the club, something I thought people would appreciate as a nice surprise, however it was so much of a surprise no one knew about it !!
Eventually I got to the club and was settled for the evening. It was great to see people making the effort to get there early and support the first few DJs. Sarah Favouritizm was followed by Miles Numan & Maik Pederson, then DJP & Braderz, Deep Josh & Phil Asher. In between handing out the remaining Membership cards and T shirts for everyone, I introduced each DJ to the decks, and Kaysee made a great performance to open the singers. Finally at 4am, I put on the headphones and proceeded to relax a little playing to an adoring crowd. It was one of the most emotional starts to a set I ever recall, I fought back the tears which I believe were a mixture of joy and relief that all the weeks of preparation seemed to have paid off. I don’t really remember much after my first record, apart from the crowd chanting my name somewhere in the middle.
Woke up after 3 and half hours sleep @ 10am, to the club to grab the CDJs, grab the sound system at the same time as Phlash. Paul Groove dropped myself and the equipment to the San Antonio Cafe and proceeded to drive the hour to Alicante airport to get Phil onto his flight to Italy. Time to chill for a short while before getting back to the venue to start proceedings at 2pm, a lovely set opener by Alan O’Malley. Throughout the course of the day we were entertained by Dan Kelly, Schooly, Widenski and BKR, with impromptu performances from Sofia Rubina & Rainy Payne. A strong closing set, as the sun went down in the hills, from Fidias Abellan ended what many have said was their favourite experience of the weekend, when you see the footage it’s not hard to see why. I even got the chance to enjoy a little dance with my wife & children.
8pm and it’s time to dismantle the equipment and set it back up at the club in time for Rich E.P & Simeon to go live to the world on Pressure, followed by Owen Taylor representing DeepCitySoul.
After a quick shower and bite to eat I was back in time to welcome Paul Griff and then Paul Groove to the decks. Performances from Diana Waite and Michele Mcain (who battled on despite a real bad throat) brought the house down. A change to the programme then saw myself let off some steam on the decks, joined mid way in the booth by Sofia Rubina to perform the anthem for the weekend “Streets of the Sun”, before handing over to The Housebox all-stars. An otherwise perfect evening was marred by an incident involving a lost/stolen and then found camera, as well as the club finishing an hour early, meaning the Housebox guys cruelly had their sets cut short.
We bid an emotional farewell to some of the family that had to leave that Sunday morning before heading to bed with very sore heads.
I spent most of the day in between my bed and the pool on the roof, trying to get some sleep, in vain. By the time I did get some sleep it was time to get ready for a special dinner I had arranged for 6pm, another little surprise that was actually a little too much of a surprise. Thankfully, we managed to get the word out and around 40 of us sat down for what proceeded to be a real great dinner and I had the chance to catch up with some long time friends and share some hysterical anecdotes. No rest for the wicked.. back to Ronda 8 to set up for the after party. For whatever reason things didn’t go to plan, which meant I ended up getting really stressed and angry, but the show must go on, and some 2 and half hours of cable changing and mixer swapping meant we were finally ready to get under way with The Sunday Lockdown.
Miloe, Adz, Si Sutton & Paul Groove all turned out great sets before myself and Schooly took over to finish things off. In hindsight, the music wasn’t as deep as I had envisaged it to be, but I truthfully think we all nailed it that night and a mass sing-a-long to some amazing underground tracks, followed by group photos brought the entire proceedings to a close. I gathered all the DJs and performers together on the mezzanine and they all enjoyed a little love between themselves, before another impromptu mic session, not only from the performers but from anyone that wanted to make themselves heard. This night was my favourite as it was the first time I really had the chance to relax the whole weekend.
Despite the whole weekend going relatively smoothly from on the surface and me bringing over 250 people to the area, there were a few things that obviously could have been better. I realise that, despite being Superhuman, I was not physically able to be Sound Engineer, Roadie, Admin, Chauffeur, Crowd Liaison Officer & Security. I clearly took on more than I could chew but the fact that everyone was so well behaved (if you can use that term for such a mature bunch of people) helped make my life a lot easier. By wanting to surprise people with one or two things meant that they weren’t fully aware of what was happening and also meant that I constantly was telling people “It’s all on the Fact Sheet”, this became a bit of a running joke after a while.
The pre-parties and after party were indeed an after-thought, there were one or two people rather upset they were missing out on the final night, next time I won’t be keeping anything secret.
One or two other minute details can and will be addressed for future events, but what is sure is that the foundations are well and truly in place for this event to be repeated at a later date.. I will most definitely meet you by the speakers !
Too many people to mention for too many different things… everyone knows full well how grateful I am for all their support on this and I am fully aware of how much this meant to people. If you weren’t there, all the love and outpouring of emotions on facebook probably seems a bit sickening… but we don’t really care, because WE ARE FAMILY !!
Official photos and a full length video are being edited as we speak, more to come..