VB2022 – A return to form. My personal review.

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VB2022 – A return to form. My personal review.

Vocal Booth Weekender returned in 2022 for the second year at Blue Line Hotel in Villajoyosa. Even though these events are all still pretty fresh in our minds,  here is a brief recap to look back on from my own point of view, as the promoter. It will document all of the highs of the event and one or two challenges faced along the way. Overall, the event was an overwhelming success and, as usual, the positive feedback of reviews, photos and videos is non-stop.

 

Back Story

This was our first ‘real’ event since our busiest one ever back in 2019 in Campoamor, where we had almost 700 people in attendance. That year, we were hit with biblical storms and the roof of the club caving in, hours before we were meant to open. We soldiered on and it was incredible. You can check out a video documenting the whole thing here. Then, of course, VB2020 was a microscopic version of an event due to Covid. In 2021 we had to find a new home and Villajoyosa was the hot pick. That event too was not without its restrictions and weather issues. Check out a VB2021 after movie here.

VB2022 took place Friday 30th September until Tuesday 4th October, with a pre-party on Thursday evening.

 

Preparations

Having already written a whole book on the subject, most know that it’s not an exaggeration to say that VBW and The Family consume my thoughts most days. This year was the same as any other. I spent months preparing the gifts, co-ordinating DJs and Apartment bookings and getting to know the new management at Blue Line. From the start I had a good feeling about the new relationship. The Hotel were over the moon with how things went in 2021 and so it was pretty plain sailing in dealing with them, putting suggestions their way in how to make the event the best it could be, and so on.

I had replaced parts in the old Pressure Cooker speakers as well as investing in several new units, meaning we would have a much beefier sound overall. I spoke at length with sound wizard Lutz Gehrke who gave me guidance on what I needed and assured me he would be on hand to help me set up at the event. Some small additions to the lighting set up were made also. I was excited to see the transformation of the inside of the hotel, thanks to WoWDeco plus the new poolside DJ set up was going to add a new dimension to proceedings.

A few days before the event kicked off, there was talk of strikes by Air Traffic Control in France which could have impacted many of the plans of The Family flying in, more than one or two parties decided not to chance it and changed their plans, meaning the hotel was already busy by Tuesday before we were meant to kick off. Arriving to the hotel on Wednesday (much thanks to newly wed Barry Fitzpatrick who helped with the muscle and van) I was met by Sean Quinn and DJP who helped me unload the kit. This was the first hiccup. I was told it would not be a problem to unload and store the Sound System in the restaurant area of the hotel as soon as I arrived. The small matter of 150 of Spain’s Police force at their own mini-event meant this was not possible… We wouldn’t have access to the restaurant until Thursday afternoon, hours before the pre-party was meant to begin. And so, reluctantly, we unloaded the van in the basement of the hotel and waited until Thursday to start the set up.

Later on Wednesday, I met with two new ‘security’ staff, Moises and José. I explained that they were about to have the easiest week of their lives and how important the Family are and how they should be treated. They both looked at me like I was a tad crazy. With Villajoyosa being just 10 minutes away from Benidorm, large groups of Brits together in one place drinking for days on end only means trouble to the locals, that was before they met The Family, of course! Anyway… after meeting up with many of the possé in attendance I retired on Wednesday evening a happy man.

 

 

Free gifts handed out – Photo courtesy of ‘Angel’.

Waking up at my usual 4.30am on the Thursday, I was eager to get things rolling. The frustration of not being able to get stuck in until later that day was eating away at me so I went for an hour long walk. As Thursday progressed my trusted right-hand man, Dave Tait, arrived and he, along with Sean Quinn, handed out the passes and free gifts. The gifts this year consisted of a rubber VBW keyring, personalised Membership Card, A very impressive Microfibre Towel plus of course the wristband and programme. You can find an online version of the VB2022 programme here. We started to set up a makeshift DJ booth on the terrace area, eventually WoWDeco would arrive and begin weaving their magic, first of all in the poolside DJ area, around the perimeter and eventually inside the hotel.

 

 

 

 

 

Click here to view Programme

The Pre-Party kicked off at 7pm and the vibes were high whilst we frantically prepared the inside of the hotel. It is a very challenging space to dress, due to the limited fixing options. If the challenges of the inside weren’t enough, mother nature decided to throw another spanner in the works with light showers throughout the evening, culminating in full-blown rains about 20 minutes before midnight. In the end we had to pull the plug on the music on the terrace and around 200 people were pushed into the space we were still working on, causing us all kinds of issues. I wasn’t pleased but in true fashion we made the best out of a bad situation and finished transforming the room. I was disappointed that ‘the big reveal’ of the decorations had been ruined the next night but there was no getting around it. For a split second I did consider setting up music inside the hotel for everyone to enjoy and party on, it would have been very easy but there were quite a few hazards that people could have tripped over and ripped down the drapes etc. Add to that, I received a text from one of my DJs that their flight had been cancelled from Chicago which took over my attention completely and I had to try to deal with that. Eventually, I’m not ashamed to say, 20 hours after waking up I thought “FUCK IT ALL!” and left everyone to their drinking, Police and VB Family alike, before finally getting to bed about 1am.

 

As we begin

Friday morning and it was literally ‘all systems go’ as we finally had music poolside from 10am. The planned Air Traffic Controllers strike that had eventually been called off, did actually go ahead on the Thursday which meant that several of The Family were delayed or even missed the event altogether. We had finally managed to get a new flight for our American friend so that was one crisis averted, at least. He would arrive, eventually, on Saturday. Whilst the music played poolside on Friday we began configuring the sound in the main area inside the hotel. We spent all day wiring up and testing, re-testing, moving and tweaking until we were happy. We began VBW back in 2009 with a mixed bag of speakers from Snoopy that, on reflection, were pretty shambolic yet did us proud. We evolved to a poolside and club system that was shipped in from the UK at great expense that was no longer viable but now here we were, with our own dedicated set up and, if I say so myself, it was pretty, pretty impressive indeed. To have so many people compliment the sound, including our headliners, well I couldn’t have been happier. Next year we still have a couple of tweaks for the poolside set up but the formula is in place now to last us long into the future.

A lot of emphasis had been placed on the noise levels from the crowd around the poolside during the days. Music-wise, I knew there was never going to be a problem with the volume of the music. Yes, it was nowhere near as loud as it could have been or as loud as people remember the poolside sessions of the past but this is the only way we could ensure the party went without complaints. The issue was, as people got merrier, then the whistling, cheering and so on would increase and this would bring complaints from neighbours, meaning Police would have to attend. I have to say that, even with the odd outbursts here and there, everyone behaved impeccably and with the level of respect you would expect. There were several occasions where I chuckled as I sat and watched people ‘holding it in’ whilst others couldn’t help themselves and had to let out screams and the odd whistle here and there. In the end, we never had one complaint during the entire event during the day and the police were only called once on Sunday night during a rather hyped White Night. Bless you all xxx

I programmed the music poolside to be a varied selection of styles and genres, insisting that House NOT be played until later in the afternoon. Overall, I was pleased with the output with most DJs showing how diverse they can be when forced (it’s fair to say everyone wants to bang it out for The Family, right?). There were some stand out moments indeed. All of the daytime recordings are available to listen back to on our dedicated Vocal Booth Weekender Mixcloud channel here.

As we kicked off inside the hotel on Friday night, the vibe was electric and the compliments flew thick and fast about how incredible everything looked and sounded. I was a very happy and proud bunny. The evening flowed without a hitch, ending off with a few words from myself to compliment all the DJs on the mic, we finished some 30 minutes after the allotted 1am cut off. At this point I still hadn’t had my first drop of alcohol since arriving on Wednesday.

Saturday morning and it was a case of Eat, Rave, Sleep, Repeat for the next four days. In the morning I collected our Chicago friend and got him into his apartment, alas he’d be without his luggage for the next 3 days meaning we’d hardly see him or his wife at the event. Later on Saturday afternoon I gathered and presented all the DJs with a free gift, a unique personalised BasketBall Vest and told them just how important each and every one of them were, not only to the event as it is today but also long into the future. We stood around the pool for group photos and my heart swelled again with pride.

A quick shower and change ready for Saturday night and I finally felt relaxed enough to enjoy my first drink. Which lead to another, which lead to another. The pressure of the last few months was finally released, culminating in (so I’m told) me going a little overboard with enthusiasm on the mic during the evening. The music continued until 2.30am. Most people told me the next day it was nice to see me so relaxed and enjoying myself. I wasn’t best pleased, I couldn’t remember anything. You know… in the horrors. Many VB Fam will recall I used to be like that all the time at the event many years ago. Like yourself (possibly) I cringe at the thought of how I behave when I have too much to drink which is why I try to limit the occasions that I do. Then again, if you listen to my radio show in the dark winter months you might think I don’t try hard enough, lol. It is what it is. I don’t beat myself up too much and I’ll be listening back to the evening recordings asap and, depending on how bad I think it is, you’ll either hear me on the mic or it will be edited out. The joys of being a shy, retiring, overly enthusiastic lunatic of a Gemini who has to tell everyone how special they are, over and over.

Sunday saw me a very wounded soldier. I woke to messages of complaint about an after-party in one of the apartments. As I thought of the best way to chastise the people responsible I found out which apartment was to blame… afterwards sending a reply to the complaint “Er…  Yeah… I may have been in there myself for a little while”. Despite this complaint and one or two other words here and there, overall, 100% of the people staying at Blue Line were extremely responsible and respectful 99% of the time. Considering the management told me that VB Family were so much better behaved than the police during their stay… well, that speaks volumes!

So, back to Sunday. The event continued with the return of The Clash of the Titans. I wasn’t sure how it would work without the competition aspect but it really did work and again, everyone behaved impeccably. Another of the aspects of the event that we have made our own that I’ve seen creep into other events around the world. As with White Night… a concept that we obviously didn’t invent but seems to have grown in popularity in recent years elsewhere. Another incredible evening. Just wow.

Monday, 1pm, we had a sit down Q&A session featuring all our headline DJs from the States followed by food and drink, photos and one on one conversations. Opportunities like this rarely happen for many of the DJs at VBW and again I felt proud of the boys and girls in the room. Monday afternoon and evening continued along the same lines as all the previous nights with the fewest of words from myself to bring the night to a close.

Tuesday we opened up to a rather dull poolside with threats of rain throughout the day but it came good and the people were out in force. Inside for the closing session and I was ready to close out the event. This was the first time in a many years that we were ending a day early on Tuesday. Obviously, for myself, it had felt like we’d been there for months but everyone I spoke to said they didn’t feel ‘cheated’ by the closing party being a day early, nor did most of the people have any kind of issue with the 1am curfew (which we never stuck to). A few drinks in and I was ready to spin. It was literally 3 minutes before I was to take to the decks that I was given news of the passing of our good friend Roger the Doctor. We’d known he was ill for some time now and that his cancer had worsened but I myself had been so pre-occupied with VB that I never really stopped to give much thought to how bad things had gotten. It’s no secret I’m a bit of a sensitive soul. I have a heavy guard up most of the time but once that gets penetrated then emotions do get the better of me. It was the weirdest of feelings. Torn between not wanting to play but also needing to close out the event I’d spent so long planning. It didn’t take long for me to decide to pick up the headphones and crack on. The next 3 hours are a total blur. I know I probably went a little overboard again on the mic but this time I think for good reason. I know we had many of the incredible Blue Line staff with us in the booth throughout the night. I know there were lots of anthems played I had no intention of playing. RIP Roger… that was for you!

 

Summary

VB2022 was a resounding success. A return to form. I lost count of the amount of times people told me what an amazing event it was, newcomers and regulars alike. I spent a lot of time sat back and observing & thinking but mostly just resting my legs and voice. I tried my best to speak to every one of the 330 or so of the people in attendance. I think I got to almost everyone. As I saw from one of the videos of the closing night, I said on the mic how happy I was that The Blue Line had put their faith in me and allowed my vision to become a reality. The management could not have been any more complimentary of the Family and the way the staff enjoyed themselves, well that is testament to us all. I was also told that pretty much every apartment was left spotless when we’d all left. RESPECT! To have every one of our headline DJs go out of their way to say how amazing you made them feel… again, I could not be more proud.

Massive love and respect to the following who all helped play their part this year:

  • Dave & Aimee Tait
  • WowDeco
  • Sean Quinn
  • DJP
  • Lutz Gherke
  • Silvia Zaragoza
  • Steve Williams
  • Colin Williams & Jansch Greatrix for some great captures.
  • Blue Line Hotel Staff & Management
  • All the DJs
  • The VB Family, of course!

 

Check out Colin’s photo album here (with more to follow)

Check out Jansch’s photos here

There are a couple of tweaks needed for next year… the smallest of things that will take us ever-closer to being the best we can be. I’ll highlight these before tickets go on sale for next year. As in life, every lesson is one that enables us to improve, the one thing I know cannot be improved is the love and appreciation we have for one another within the VB Family and I am so happy to have experienced this all with you again.

I will be having a debrief with the hotel before the end of October, by which time I should have dates for VB2023, our 15th event here in Spain. It is going to be a big one! Tickets for that will go on sale February next year and Apartment reservations will be offered to this years occupants first, at some point.

VB2022 is over. Long Live VB2022.

**If you’d like to comment on this post, please leave below. At some point, if an update of the book is ever produced, your replies and comments can be included**

 


Wardy’s Heroes – Access Subscription Plan

Photos courtesy of ‘Lolly’

I’ve had a few people enquire about the Access plan, due mainly to the wonderful free gifts handed out to the crew this year. These were a giant Fan and a pack of Top Trumps, featuring over 50 of the boys and girls who subscribe with £10 per month. For this tenner, they get entered into a Prize Draw to win upwards of £250 a month, discount off their VB tickets, any business or DJ logos proudly displayed on any of my live streams plus, and more importantly, they continue to inspire and motivate me in my quest to bring joy and happiness wherever possible. The Access plan also helped fund most of the other things in the background of VBW.

It’s a fine line between wanting to share this information with as many people as possible and not coming across as a hard sell. That it definitely isn’t. If you can afford a tenner a month and you think I give some value to you in any way, then click here to join.

You will be included on next year’s Top Trumps Series of playing cards!

 

8 Comments

  1. Easy Andy, great words Bro 👏🏽 I mentioned to you on Saturday night that I think you’ve nailed it and it will go from strength to strength moving forward….. you said to me ‘You think?’ ….. I said 100% Bro…… now that you have had some time to reflect over VB22 and after reading your thoughts….. I know you believe 🙌🏽

    Respect to You, Michelle and all that make it happen behind the scenes 🫶🏽❤️🫶🏽

  2. Just fabulous. The highlight of my raving calendar. Loved meeting and making new friends..
    Loved Jansch’s photos as they captured so many more people. I might send a separate note on photography.
    I so so love VB and white night is always my favourite. No matter what the challenges VB faces, the show always goes on..bloody well done and it was so lovely to give that big respect to the amazing, generous Roger The Doctor..RIEP…you guys rock…and big up Lutz!!!

  3. Just amazing everything VB stands for thank you so much Andy to you Michelle the whole team and blue line the preparation and detail in everything is of the highest standard and in such a safe and friendly environment xx Thank you so much 😊

  4. VBW 22 was only my second one but you definitely upped your game, so well done to Andy and the team. Such a great venue & staff. You guys certainly pulled it out of the bag 💯
    Chrissy and I both had the best week.
    Can’t wait for VB23

  5. Great read Andy and nice to hear things from your perspective as it wouldn’t happen without your vision and hard work. It’s a fabulous event and we can’t wait to do it all again next year , huge thanks ❤️❤️❤️

  6. I love reading your experience of the event, it’s a fantastic reminder of all the blood sweat and tears behind the seemingly seamless event we all love and enjoy. It is an absolute credit to you (and Michelle and the team) we see little of the hiccups and are able to really get lost in the joy of the music, people and place. This year I rested more than I partied but still felt part of something truly special. And you do that, for us all. Thanks for making us all part of your Vocal Booth Family ❤️

  7. Love, love, love and respect what you, Michelle, the team, the Dj’s and staff do to bring and make VBW the sucess that it is.
    I would go as far to say that other event’s have been influenced by what you do as BRAND!
    I like the diversity and people that came to VBW2022, the welcoming of new baby – congratulations Sergi Erizzo to your new addition. Or meeting new people as well as catching up with friends – it feels like home.

    The fact you bring TOP HEADLINERS and new mergering Dj’s and the clash of the titans to VBW- very special indeed and an honour to see some of my favourites Dj’s play or sing live.

    I throughly enjoyed the “true house stories” a nice touch to add – I hope there will be more very informative and necessary to keep the history of House music alive.

    The photographers Colin and Jansch did a fantastic job capturing the essance of what it means to be part of VBW family and why it is For… With… Of… The… Family. The gifts that we all received (thank you) I was not expecting that, as well as the tracksuit top – it will have place in my studio.

    Lutz did a great job the music sounded even sweetener and the – what a joy to hear old classics like that. Greatful that VBW is still going strong – long may it continue VBW. Iceland I hope your ready!

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