Dance yourself dizzy at Sea Sessions 2013

The Sea Sessions weekend provides plenty for club heads who perhaps wouldn’t often have reason to venture to Bundoran for a night on the tiles

Tea and tunes: Mr Scruff

Tea and tunes: Mr Scruff


As any Ibiza regular will tell you, there’s little better than the combination of sunshine, sea air and great beats. Thankfully, the Sea Sessions weekend provides plenty of attractions for club heads who perhaps wouldn’t often have reason to venture to Bundoran for a night on the tiles.

At the top of the bill is Gilles Peterson, one of the most important figures in the multi-cultural make-up of British dance music over the last 30 years. Starting out as a DJ in London in the early 1980s, Peterson was one of the key selectors in the burgeoning acid jazz scene of the day: where jazz became fused with Latin, funk, hip-hop and electronic influences.

As well as appearing regularly on pirate radio, Peterson started the now-legendary Sunday afternoon session at Dingwalls in Camden in north London, where often be-suited dancers flipped out to jazz classics and anything else he felt like playing. His Acid Jazz record label soon followed which allowed him to further promote the scene growing up around him, that included people such as Jamiroquai and the Brand New Heavies.

These days he presents a three-hour Saturday show on BBC6, playing dance music from all over the globe. His passion for what is dubiously termed “world music” runs deep and the radio show allows him to bring artists and traditions together in unexpected ways.

His label focus, Brownswood Recordings, pursues much the same idea, with the last release from Mala seeing the dubstep scion collaborate with musicians in Cuba.

Like all great DJs, Peterson puts the music first. His knowledge is unparalleled and, with 30-odd years of DJing behind him, he knows exactly how to employ it to get the most out of a dancing crowd.

Of similar vintage to Mr Peterson is Greg Wilson, remix king and one of the first regular DJs at Manchester’s infamous Hacienda club. Starting out as a schoolboy in the mid-1970s, Wilson became known for his disco, funk and soul DJing in Merseyside, before pioneering the emergent electro sound in the early 1980s, blurring hip-hop, disco and what would soon become known as techno. This sound bagged him his residency at the Hacienda, as well as the notoriety of being the first person to demonstrate the art of mixing on British television with a short slot on The Tube in 1983: worth watching if just for the sight of a young Jools Holland in leather jacket and sunglasses.

In 1984, just as clubs were really getting going in Britain, Wilson retired from DJing to focus more on production work. After two decades spent MIA, he returned to the decks in 2003 with an enhanced cult reputation and an endless supply of timeless disco, funk and electro records that a new generation was just dying to dance to. Wilson has since been embraced by a new wave of disco lovers and makers, with his mixes and edits setting the standard for contemporary artists such as Metro Area, Todd Terje and Soul Clap. His Essential mix for the BBC in 2009 cemented his place in British dance lore and these days he spends his time travelling around with a big bag of records and his trusty Revox tape machine, keeping the spirit of disco alive and kicking.

Vito De Luca is one of the key players in that nu-disco explosion, building on and expanding the legacy of people like Wilson and Tom Moulton in New York.

Under the alias Aeroplane, he concocts blissful tracks full of colour and movement, dancefloor-ready but not dancefloor-focused.

Big beats and bigger basslines abound, with glossy synths and irresistible vocal hooks just the icing on the cake. Sleek disco anthems meet propulsive modern house jams in a match made in Balearic beach heaven. As a DJ he is all about the moment of elation, the rush of communal adrenaline as a payoff after deep spectral soul-searching.

Many a spot of soul-searching has taken place over a good cup of tea and Macclesfield native Andy Carthy knows this well. The man better known Mr Scruff loves a good cup of tea. In fact, he loves tea so much he started his own line of tea bags, Make Us A Brew, which he sells from stalls at gigs and festivals. There’s also the small matter of Mr Scruff being a good-time DJ without compare, with his brand of jazzy, groovy house, perfect for dancing on the beach. Tea and tunes, what more do you want?

Not every DJ has to be flown in for the weekend and keeping it lively from the Irish side are Billy Scurry and Collie Hertz U.

Scurry has been a well-known and respected head on the Dublin scene since the early 1990s and his days in the Temple of Sound. The two decades since have seen him hone his craft to a fine point and become one of the capital’s most skilled and versatile selectors. His brand of sleek disco and house has seen him play parties all over Europe but its his home town sets that keep people coming back for more.

While a lot of the Sea Sessions weekend will be all about disco and house grooves, those in search of something a little harder, faster and heavier will be well taken care of by Collie and the Hertz U sound system. Collie is another familiar face to anyone who has spent some time in the capital’s clubs, and indeed at festivals around the country where he can often be found behind the scenes, setting up killer PA systems for DJs and bands alike. It’s fitting that the man with the rig would also play music that is designed to be heard on the biggest speakers you can find and Collie is an established selector of classic jungle, dub, drum and bass and any music where it’s really all about that rib-cage-rattling low end.

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