Detonate 15 Years: Part 1 - Detonate at Deluxe

Thursday 24th April 2014

15 years ago, Detonate started out. Here's the first part of a new series taking a look back at where it all began and where it went from there...

Why did Detonate start?
There were a few reasons Detonate came about…

1. Ed Rush & Optical released Wormhole.
Early Good Looking records like ‘Atlantis’ or ‘Music’ and early Metalheadz bits like ‘It’s Yours’, ‘Drums 95’ and ‘Pulp Fiction’ had changed everything for me in 1995/6. I’d been playing out regularly in places like The Lenton and other fairly run down clubs, but around the time 'Wormhole' dropped I was at a loose end having finished university, and I was just not hearing those tunes in Nottingham clubs.

2. Steel ended
The only D&B night which played the sound we liked at the time (Steel at Beatroot) stopped about 18 months before Detonate started, and it was massively missed by Kath and myself. People like Kemistry and Storm, Grooverider, Randall etc used to play down there every Thursday, and tunes like ‘Your Sound’ by J.Majik got hammered. 
Kath decided something need to replace it, and so we worked on doing just that.

3. The response from our first show
The idea initially was just to try a club night and see how it went, but the response from the first one was amazing. It sold out, and spurred us on to make Detonate a regular event.

When did it start?
Our first ever event was on 14th January 1999, at Deluxe, St James St, Nottingham. At that time it was pretty difficult to get a club to let you put a Drum & Bass night on, since club owners had concerns about the crowd that it would attract. Dance music had been dominated by glam house music for a few years, and so a lot of clubs insisted that blokes wore shoes (no trainers?!), and clubs had things like door pickers to make sure well dressed, beautiful women got in first - it was pretty fucking weird. So as well as attempting to explain what the music was all about, we were also trying to convince club owners that their view of an ideal punter (in 1999 this was someone wearing pin stripe velvet trousers, loafers and a pastel coloured Ralph) wasn’t really who we wanted to appeal to.

Deluxe had previously been one of the Midlands' best clubs, and nights like DIY, Ask Your Dad, Fusion had been huge events there previously. It’s fair to say it had peaked prior to us being allowed to use it, though.

Kenny Ken headlined the first Detonate on 14th January, followed by Ed Rush on 18th February, and then Andy C on 15th March. The last Detonate at Deluxe was on 16th April.

Transit Mafia & MC Freestyle at Detonate at Deluxe 1999

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What were the big tunes?
Shy FX - 'Bambaata'
Ram Trilogy - 'No Reality'
Ed Rush & Optical - 'Funktion'
Adam F - 'Brand New Funk'
Ed Rush & Optical - 'Mystery Machine'
Moving Fusion - 'Turbulence'
Reprazent - 'Watching Windows' (DJ Die Gnarly remix)
Andy C & Shimon - 'Live Line'
DJ Die - 'Clear Skies'
DJ Hype - 'Closer to God'

How did you go about booking DJ’s?
The internet did exist, but even if you had time to wait for the 56k dial up modem to load a web page, no D&B agents had websites. Only 25% of people had mobiles! My only real contact with the D&B industry was Emily at Main Source, which was a PR company for D&B releases. She used to send me records. I asked her how to book certain people and she gave me the numbers of a load of ‘agents', who turned out to be DJs' girlfriends. The majority of calls to agents back then had babies screaming and dogs barking in the background.

We got Kenny Ken booked for our first night through Tracey at Ton who was one of more professional 'WAG’ agents, and we’d promised ourselves that if we did a second night, then Ed Rush would be our next headliner. We had no idea how to book him, so I checked the 'Wormhole' album cover and saw a line saying "call for DJ Bookings" and a mobile number. I called it, and it was Ben Settle (aka Ed Rush) at the end of the line. I was probably the most star-struck I’ve been when booking someone. It's hard to believe that his mobile number was on the sleeve of a record which sold over 100,000 copies!

We'll be celebrating our 15th Birthday with Detonate Festival on 7th June. 
Click HERE for the event page. 
Click HERE for tickets.

Detonate at Deluxe, reviewed in Ministry Magazine 1999.

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