Detonate 15 Years: Part 3 - Detonation at Marcus Garvey

Thursday 8th May 2014

Detonate 15years: Part 3 – Detonation at The Marcus Garvey 2000-2008.

We’ve had loads of positive feedback from the last two parts of this so I figured we’d carry on. The idea wasn’t really for us to go on about ourselves here – if you’ve got any stories, photos, flyers, tickets etc then please use the hash tag #detonatememories and we’ll try and include them.

The Marcus Garvey Centre is a legendary Nottingham venue. On the first weekend I moved to Nottingham I walked past it and realised there was a massive rave happening in what looked like a council building. Not long after, I went to Atomic Jam in there with Sven Vath, Richie Hawtin and Colin Dale. Around that time, DIY did their Doghouse night in there which was always rammed, although everyone you spoke to about the venue being rammed talked about the time Massive Attack played.

The Garvey has a certain charm. It’s a big hall with a huge sound system, and a dance floor that bounces. It had a following of people who just loved the venue and would go to whatever was on in there. In 2000 it was the only place in Nottingham that stayed open until 6am. All other clubs closed at 2.30 or 3am latest. It was also the biggest venue. Nottingham’s club scene was divided amongst lots of relatively small clubs at the time (The Bomb, Deluxe, Dubble Bubble, Lost Weekend, Beatroot).

A couple of garage promoters, Sante and David, took over the bookings diary at the Garvey. David was also 'Monsta Boy' and had just written one of the biggest garage tunes ‘I’m sorry’ around at the time. We had this weird meeting where four of us sat on chairs in the middle of that big hall. They must have been the first people ever to have hands-free ear pieces and spent the whole meeting switching between conversations. When we left, we weren’t sure whether we’d arranged some Garvey raves or signed up for a load of live PAs in Ayia Nappa!

We wanted to differentiate our multi-genre club shows from our Garvey D&B allnighters so we called the nights ‘Detonation'. The first event was November 2000. Having an all night licence meant we were able to do big line ups with loads of DJs. It wasn’t long before we were doing Ram, Playaz, Valve, Formation and Virus showcases. There was some unbelievable music around at the time… Dillinja’s ‘Cybotron’ album was getting hammered on dubplate. Ed Rush & Optical and Total Science were massively prolific. Ram Trilogy and Moving Fusion were firing, and all those amazing Marcus Intalex & ST Files were surfacing, including this remix…

It’s fair to say the Garvey operated on its own terms. Elder, the giant head doorman, treated everyone with equal disdain, whether they were the promoter, the headline DJ, or someone he was throwing out for selling drugs. Quite often we’d hear ‘Step back Bredrin!’ being yelled at someone, only to discover it was one of our headliners being shouted at and searched whilst he waved around this huge mag light.

On our second Detonation, Goldie was booked to headline. On the day, we got a call to say he had to cancel. Somehow we managed to get Ed Rush & Bailey to step in but by doing so we saved quite a lot of money. After a bit of discussion we decided to give everyone who had bought a ticket £3 back, or they could get a full refund if they didn’t want to come in. It was the first time I’d ever seen Elder smile or laugh. He spent the whole night cracking up, saying things like, ‘Blud clart giving out money in the Marcus Garvey hahahaha!’

Around 2001, Dillinja & Lemon D started Valve Soundsystem. We booked it in and everyone was hyped. I’d managed to blag a load of friends into helping lift it in. The Garvey has no lift and so it all had to go up the slippery fire exit. The amps for the Valve system are probably the heaviest thing on Earth. After about two hours of brutal lifting we were instructed by Dillinja to get all the speakers in two rows facing each other alongside either wall. When we finally lifted the last one into place we were all knackered and soaked in sweat. He fired up the system, put a test press of his new tune on at full volume, and stood in between the two rows as the tune played. After five minutes of deafening everyone and looking deep in thought he said, ‘Right, these need to be moved over there now,’ and pointed to where the speakers normally go! Of course, by 6am, everyone who’d got in free in exchange for helping lift the system in and out had disappeared. Only me, Dillinja and a couple of others were left to cart the whole thing out in the rain. Dillinja was less than amused. For years, we got emails asking when Valve would be back at the Garvey. I didn’t think Dillinja would be up for that one again.

Once you’d had the whole door experience and were in, the Garvey had a ‘do what you want’ vibe. It was like a festival atmosphere in there. People used to properly party. Our good friends Nathan (Small Kid – who designed the flyers) and Luke worked on the door. The cloakroom hatch was like a magnet for gurners who fancied a chat. Nath and Luke would spend most of the night winding people up who were off their heads. Luke had a pet snake, which he used to feed with these small mice that he’d buy frozen from the pet shop. For some reason, he had one of these dead mice in his pocket one night, and propped it up next to the payment window, so it looked like it was asleep. When people came up to talk to them, they’d go, ‘Sssssshhhhh. The mouse is sleeping.’ People would look at it then say, ‘Shit, sorry mate,’ and shuffle off or start whispering. Then they did it to a vegan who started crying so the mouse was packed away for the night.

We did Detonation at the Garvey until 2008. We still get emails asking when the next one is. Shouts to Nathan (Small Kid), Luke, DJ Solution, Merv and the CPH Sound, Elder, Tyrone, The guy who danced with two hankies, the guy who used to do that skiing dance, the extra security in the toilets, and the helpful, friendly bar staff. 

Detonation Tunes:

Total Science - Three sugars

Ray Keith - Something out there (twisted anger remix)

Bad Company - The Nine

Ed Rush & Optical - Kerbcrawler

Marcus Intalex & ST Files - Dreamworld

Dillinja - Nasty Wayz

Q-Project Champion Sound – hardcore will never die mix

Wots My Code – Dubplate

Digital - Deadline

Detonate 15 Years: Part 1 - Detonate at Deluxe - click here
Detonate 15 Years: Part 2 - Detonate at Dubble Bubble - click here

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