Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

Superstar DJs? They’re still going

There’s no escaping their mugs on the billboards on the road into Ibiza Town from the airport. While some may think that the golden age of Ibiza superclubs and DJs larging it afterwards in the lovely villas and fincas dotted …

Thu, Sep 30, 2010, 10:13


There’s no escaping their mugs on the billboards on the road into Ibiza Town from the airport. While some may think that the golden age of Ibiza superclubs and DJs larging it afterwards in the lovely villas and fincas dotted around the island ended a long time ago, the billboards and stories from the island tell another tale. The superstar DJs are still going strong here at least.

It’s coming to the end of what has been a very good season so the current promotional push is all about the final parties as venues prepare to sweep the floors, count the cash and close their doors for another year. From David Guetta to Pete Tong, the DJs and clubs attempt to flog their wares as you pass by. Even Carl Cox is still getting the gigs out here and banging ‘em out.

But that’s Ibiza. Elsewhere, there may be still a market for the lads who were larger than life characters through the last few decades – Sasha is coming to town for a gig at Tripod this weekend, for instance – but, like the Irish economy this morning, it’s a much different powerhouse to the one it once was.

Certainly, anyone who has read Dom Phillips’ “Superstar DJs Here We Go” book on the phenomenon of British superstar DJs and clubs who held sway during the 1990s and early years of the Noughties will be under no illusions as to who, what, why and how of that rise and fall.

Apart from tracking down once ubiquitous club draws like Jon Pleased Wimmin, Jeremy Healy, Danny Rampling and co to see where they are now (some very sad stories about what happened to some folks when the party finally ended and they had to go home), Phillips also looks at how the whole scene which had spung up around these DJs played itself out.

What had begun with glammy nights out in unlikely and down-at-heel northern English towns eventually just got too greedy, too coked-up and too self-important for its own good. Millennium Eve was the tipping point and it was all downhill after that. The outlandish and ambitious projects and events (like the Home nightclub in the middle of London’s Leicester Square tourist trap) ended in tears. By 2003, that particular acid house revolution had come to an end. There may be some people pining for it – Phillips compares the Facebook groups and online nostalgia which has sprung up around nights like Renaissance and Wobble to the Northern Soul scene – but the music and the clubs have moved on.

The smarter DJs also moved on. The premier league players headed to foreign parts and found new lucrative circuits for themselves with Sasha and Paul Oakenfold, for instance, finding a lot of love for themselves in the Americas. A new generation of superstar DJs came to the fore – Phillips talks about how David Guetta in particular is more like a rock icon with mainstream appeal than the characters of old – but it’s now just part of the fabric instead of being the main focus as it once was. Yes, you could stick on Guetta or Tiesto in the O2 or Odyssey and they’d probably do better business than any number of big acts you care to mention, but the notion of a fellow who spins records as a game-changer is well and truly over.

And yes, there are still superclubs in existence – Una Mullally had a good piece in the Tribune recently on the first year of The Wright Venue, the superclub in the middle of a north county Dublin retail park – but they’re no longer the big beasts of the entertainment jungle that they once were. A new generation of clubbers wanted something else from 2003 onwards and that meant a shift to smaller spaces, more interesting nights and more variety. They also got their kicks from live music and festivals leading to a huge upward spike in both the number of events and the audiences they attracted. Maybe, just maybe, a future generation will wish to return to the glitz and ritz of the superclub era. If that’s the case, all they’ll have to do is dust down the infrastructure.

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