Following a couple of weekends of regular gigs, on Saturday 16th, I took what is now an all-too-rare trip to the North West. On the cards was a long-awaited return to Lounge 31 in Manchester, the upmarket niterie operated by Eddie Down and his brothers of the Brown Suga DJ and promotions crew. I opted not to take a hotel, instead doing my long-distance lorry driver thing of tackling the round trip. No amphetamines for me though – just a couple of cans of my chemical cocktail vice of choice, Red Bull.

Lounge 31 is in the Printworks, a complex where an array of bars, restaurants and clubs have all been grouped together, seemingly to keep the nocturnal rowdiness concentrated and easier to police. I jumped from 2 to 4am, and was very happy to be able to play a set laden with bashment, hip-hop and UK funky, with little need to resort to corny pop crap. Never a bad thing. The late-night champagne crowd was very much in evidence as I departed. What wasn’t too helpful was yet another overnight motorway closure – this time the M56 – forcing a long diversion through some random villages, and causing me to eventually roll up at my front door at 7.15am.

My session at The Living Room in Milton Keynes was good fun on Friday 22nd, and I worked at not letting the dumb comment from an obnoxious middle-aged woman put me off. She’d remarked ‘are you going to be playing this reggae shit all night?’ as Kanye West’s ‘Goldigger’ blasted from the speakers. (Just between you and me, I got the impression she doesn’t like black music. It’s all good. I hear Billy Ray Cyrus is in town soon.)

The following day marked my DJing debut in Poland. I set off on the national flag carrier LOT from Heathrow Terminal 1, arriving into Warsaw to be met by promoter Dio. In a move of great foresight, he’d booked me into the Marriott Hotel at the airport, enabling a long sleep in after the gig, and only a two-minute walk to the terminal. Dio is a house DJ, but he moved into promoting urban gigs at Capitol Club a couple of years ago, since when he’s brought big dogs like Fatman Scoop, Shortee Blitz, DJ Kofi, Manny Norte and Steve Sutherland out to spin.

It was clear we were in for a great night as we arrived to find the venue, which shares its space with a theatre, packed to the rafters, and I jumped on for a two-hour set at 1.15am. The crowd jumped and whined throughout, and with Polish vodka on flow everything about the night was perfect. I posted a set of pictures here. With a civilised 3pm flight home on Sunday, and an on-time departure, the perfection continued. More gigs like this would suit me very nicely indeed. The reality is they remain the rarity!

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