Every so often, a gig opportunity comes along that seems to make all the many regular drudge jobs worthwhile. The latest occurred over the first weekend in July as I headed out to play the Ministry Of Sound venue on Egypt’s Red Sea coast.
There are two Ministry Egypt venues – in Sharm El Sheikh and Hurghada. Both are franchises of the famous London brand, but, confusingly, are separately owned, despite sharing the same website. My gig was in Hurghada. My favourite holiday so far has been the Nile Cruise and Pyramids tour I took in 1996, and this marked my first time in Egypt since. Easyjet recently opened up routes to both Hurghada and Sharm out of Gatwick. True to Summertime form, my flight was delayed by two hours. The further five in Easyjet’s regular no-frills fleet was far from comfortable.
The temperature in the UK had been off the scale, and it was an even more baking 35c in Hurghada even at 9pm, as MOS marketing manager Owen picked me up. He proceeded to show me the group’s empire. As well as the Ministry-branded Papas Beach Club, (site of my Saturday gig,) they also have a slick Hed Kandi-branded beach/ pool club in a further franchise move, and own a handful of other bars and eateries around the Marina area. This lot have Hurghada on lockdown.
Sharm is highly popular with Brit tourists, whereas Hurghada is dominated more by Russian and German visitors. Both locations are popular for deep sea diving and snorkelling. Like Dubai, Hurghada was little more than a fishing village a couple of decades ago, but is now sprawling. The cheap cost of living makes it an understandbly appealing holiday destination.
There was little doubt that the Smoove party, (reviving the long-defunct London club night of the same name) was going to be awesome. It didn’t disappoint. Despite sweltering temperatures the crowd kept jumping as I tore it down from 1.30 to 4am. The night served as a humbling reminder of how privileged we travelling DJs truly are to be doing what we do. Midway through my set a Dutch Human Beatbox artist by the name of Marcel, (Holland’s answer to Marcel,) jumped up to perform a five-minute cameo. I’ve posted some footage of it on my Youtube page, and there’s pics from the rest of the trip in all the usual places.
I was offered the opportunity to go quad biking over sand dunes in the desert on Sunday, but with the temperature at egg-frying levels, I wimped out and declined like a lightweight. Instead I spent the day at a barbecue/ pool party at the beachside residence of one of the bosses. Sure beats mowing the lawn. Easyjet only operate their route on certain days, Monday night being my earliest opportunity to return home.
The rest of the month consisted of routine gigs at the regular spots. Among other activities, Black Sheep Magazine now features daily news updates, with stories in the last month ranging from Ne-Yo’s breakdown on-stage to Reverend Run’s son being busted on marijuana charges. Be sure to check out www.blacksheepmag.com, and follow us on Twitter to get all the update alerts – www.twitter.com/blacksheepmag
On the radio, Oxford hip-hop hero Chima Anya made another live appearance on ‘Just Buggin’ on Wednesday 8th. As well as showcasing his new sounds and catching a few jokes, we also ran a sequence consisting of records that have used Michael Jackson samples in their beats from over the years. It was a classic show that’s still available to listen to on the following links:
Mix-wise, as well as uploading 1999’s ‘Da Niceness’, the latest archive instalment in my mixtape series, I took advantage of a couple of days whilst Parveen and Zaina were away to plough into the latest instalment in my (occasionally!) ongoing Beatmasters Mix series. This one is all about the musical genius of Quincy Jones, and is long overdue. As ever, the unearthing of the original vinyl records was the thing that took the most time, but I feel the eventual result more than justifies the efforts. You can download and listen using the following link:
The first Black Sheep AGM took place on Friday 24th. In reality it was a bunch of us gathering in a Hampstead Road watering hole to exchange cynical jokes, bitter gripes, and the occasional BSM-related suggestion. Earlier in the day I’d passed through Charlotte Street Blues, the capital’s new dedicated blues venue where the likes of John Mayall and John Lee Hooker Jr perform nightly. I can’t say I’m the biggest fan of the blues, but if that’s what floats your boat, CSB is definitely the joint. Management kindly provided me with a complimentary meal and drinks. They do a mean mint julep.
Something which I’ve long advocated is the occasional ‘F*ck It Day. A F*ck It Day occurs when the daily drudge and stress starts to get you down, and you really feel like saying ‘f*ck it’, pushing all the bullsh*t to one side and enjoying some well-deserved time out. Parveen and myself extended this to a F*ck It Day Double Bill on Thursday 30th, taking off with Zaina for a hotel break in he Forest of Dean area, exploring the England/ Wales border. Everyone should have a F*ck It Day a few times a year.
… and that was July.