The Big Reunion 2002 - Review
Reported by Simon Trundle
Submitted 31-12-02 11:50
The Big Reunion 2002; co-founded by David Smithson, Andy Tidy and Paul Little three years ago, the team have harboured elaborate plans for the future of the clubbing and holiday culture. During this period, their continued success with the event has enabled them to execute their strategy with precision, resulting in a completely fresh approach towards vocational packages as we now know it. Thus, Cultura Trips is born. Cultura will specialise in "DIY Holidays"; utilising the concept of collating a package designed for you, selecting only the options you require or can afford at the time. This flexible new enterprise can deliver a customised selection of alternatives that have never been available before, ranging from 2-x number of night stays, a limo or premier car service straight from the airport, and even VIP clubbing tickets before your departure.
In short, Cultura Trips offer a deconstructed, innovative approach for an ever-progressing society to which generations and the population as a whole, now demand. Finally - an agent that takes care of our individual needs has arrived.
Now, with an 8000 capacity fully booked long before the event date, you could say that this appears to be a fairly successful event from the word 'go'. Well, expect that you can, and a whole lot more. The Big Reunion is running over two weekends this year, with the latter figure describing the attendance for only the first of the two events, and the second weekend also boasting a fully booked capacity with an additional 6000+ on the waiting list. Allow me to divulge...
It's early Friday evening and the events are about to start warming up, there's a real sense of urgency and excitement in the air. Clubbers are rushing around everywhere, each of them eager to reach the 50+ foot high Skyliner which houses the Precious stage. Tension builds as each minute passes by, drawing closer and closer to the inevitable launch of the first event. The animals are scratching at their cage doors; they long to be set free....
The Skyliner is the first port of call, venturing inside reveals facilities including several 24hr cash machines, numerous gift and fun shops, arcades, temporary tattoo stands, and plenty of food outlets to satisfy the cravings of the clubbers during the early hours to come. There are several large bars with good seating areas provided, one of which is positioned directly in front of the stage and dance floor. Shining lights draw attention to the rising peaks of the Skyliner, as the Big Reunion logo is projected onto its inners in a brilliant white light whilst twirling around with effect. A deep vibe emanates from the stage; it's the Charley's Angelz crew warming things up as the girls go back-to-back with a fat slice of funky house. The groove becomes too much for one guy, as he parades himself on the dance floor in an imaginary bonking simulation. Hmmm.
Meanwhile, DJ Jem kicks off the action on the Deviate stage in Hotshots; a ten pin bowling-come-clubbing venue with two bars, plenty of TV screens displaying mesmerizing visual effects, and a reasonably sized dance floor. A while later and Kenny Ken takes control of the one's and two's to spin a little drum`n bass, and within minutes the place is f*ckin packed!
Back to the Skyliner and Sophie Sugar is undertaking the first set on the Precious stage with more funky house cuts. A group of twelve lads arrive with silver cow-boy hats and floppy-dicked thongs and nothing more, not a pleasant site but the crowd accepted it in jest and we all have a good laugh, watching as they move around whilst posing for the odd camera snapper. A live bongo percussionist begins to add his own little riffs to the mix which seems to create an instant hype, and many make headway for the dance floor as things warm up nicely.
Positioned just a couple of minutes away from the Skyliner some classic 80's music blares out from Jaks; a western themed bar with a large dance floor and of course, live DJ action. The walls are painted to portray the style of an old wooden barn, with wooden baskets filled with animal fur hanging above the bar towards the rear of the venue. The crowd jive away as DJ Pat Sharp delivers a dose of Madonna, and I hastily seize the opportunity to make a fast track for the exit :o)
As midnight approaches it becomes clear that every single clubber at the event is out and about, each bar is packed to the hilt and all the clubs are rammed. The Skyliner has pulled in a majority, as three Television X girls perform on stage for the clubbers in a rather provocative manner to say the least. Think I'll just hang around here for a while and see what happens ;-)
Lisa Loud and Sarah G take us into a new day as the set moves into a full-on trance affair; Lisa selects the renown 'Silence' by Delirium as her next play, but production personnel on stage manage to make the needle skip a hefty chunk. Normally a disaster but everyone's wasted and no-one seems to care!
Garage fans are catered for inside the Centre Stage, where the Garage Heaven event takes place with Femme Fatale at the fore. The Artful Dodger continues thereafter, and the huge dance floor is literally teeming with people. With over £1m worth of sound and lighting equipment across the stages, it has to be said that the bass inside the Centre Stage is truly phenomenal; flooring vibrations and reverberating low frequencies send the crowd wild as the phat bassline rocks with astonishing power. Views of the crowd favour The Artful Dodger as the best act of the evening at the Centre Stage, with Oxide and Neutrino pulling a rather more lightweight crowd than expected.
DJ Nathan Swift together with stage appearances from Ali Gee (look-alike), the real Jason Donavon and Tony Hadley serve up some more classic 80's hits on the Gold stage at Reds, where two 8' * 10' screens sit either side of the frankly enormous stage whilst impressive lasers and lighting are wedged into every spare space available. 2 Unlimited also make an appearance which pleased the punters to no end, with one particular comment surmising the performance as "mint...simply mint."!
Meanwhile, Lisa Pin Up has taken the Skyliner by storm with a particularly hard set; it's not just the dance floor that's bouncing either, everyone in the seating area, the perimeter, wherever people can stand there's someone already there getting off on the tunage. A 6' 6" performer Matt from North Devon gets on stage and demonstrates his fire-juggling skills whilst on stilts, as his colleague joins him to create an array of flying torches. An attempt to extinguish the flame down his trousers fails - twice, but he's okay and puts the flame out in his mouth instead. What a star.
Sophie Sugar completes the Charley's Angelz event with another 3 hour set, as DJ Heaven appears towards the finale with Marc Aurel's 'Running' whipping up the dance floor into a whirlwind once again. Things have gone extremely well and as 5am draws close, one can only begin to imagine the atmosphere planned for tomorrow as the awesome line-ups continue.
Well the next evening soon arrives and my phone is beeping again, informing me that funk mistress Kate-EB has begun the warm-up over in Jaks. The Big Reunion team have provided a dedicated service using SMS text alerts which has been setup for the clubbers to subscribe to, ensuring that no-one misses their favourite event or DJ. A revolutionary idea for an event and one that I'm sure will be replicated in the future.
DJ Jem kicks off the evening in the Skyliner with some commercial trance for the masses, whilst another bout of Garage Heaven takes place in Hotshots. The Centre Stage makes way for the Helter Skelter event hosted by Déjà Vu, presenting all the old skool tunes for those choosing to take a trip down memory lane. Upcoming sets from Ratpack and Slipmatt have got glowsticks whizzing throughout the crowd in anticipation!!
Later in the evening, blonde bombshell Baby D makes a stage appearance which the crowd simply adores as she sings her smash hit 'I Neeed Your Lovin' followed by 'Let Me Be Your Fantasy'. "Aaah, those days of old sure do bring back some happy memories" I recall, as the smiles on everybody's face tells me they're reminiscing about exactly the same thing. Go Baby D - Go!!
The Cuban Brothers host their Cuban Funk event in Jaks, which is going down an absolute treat upon arrival. Every inch of floor space inside the venue is being used, the dance floor has spilled into the bar areas and everyone is really getting down to the beat!
Across to Reds where the highlight event of the weekend is taking place - Tonic in conjunction with Clockwork Orange has a stunning line-up in place which looks well set for a proper mash-up. The stage has been ornately decorated with an abstract space theme; with plenty of futuristic pipe work, flashing sirens, intricate silver cabling and a rather scary looking space-age electric chair!
JD takes to the decks first off, warming the floors with a deep funk version of Narcotic Thrusts 'Safe from Harm' whilst giant Tonic logos spin away on the screens either side of the stage. Tonic and Space resident Eddie Lock is next up on decks and the crowd are receiving him with open arms. Reds definitely harbours the largest dancefloor of all the venues, and at this moment in time it's jam packed. An hour later and the clubbers continue to pour through the doors, as the highly awaited Boy George appears with his signature top hat, looking the biz as he takes on the decks for a top-notch house workout. A live percussionist joins two giant OAP's on stage, with BFG style chins and Zimmer frames attached, they move slowly across the stage as the house assault continues - cracking!!
Tall Paul takes to the decks as two erotic dancers in tight black underwear perform various lesbian innuendoes amongst a little cat-fighting, but don't worry; they lick each others wounds better ;-) The act continues for an enjoyable twenty minutes or so, and then Tall Paul spins out Who Da Funk's 'Shiny Disco Balls' as the crowd go wild!!
Many more interesting characters appear on stage, ranging from industrial looking psychos in orange suits grinding metal and sending sparks flying, to the diversity of a 10ft padded giraffe parading on stage and giving the crowd the occasional nod! All the costumes are extremely well done and it's clear that a great deal of effort has been exerted in order to achieve these polished results. Guest appearances and star look-alikes Alan Partridge, Ali Gee and even Kevin & Perry make flitting appearances around the site, amusing everyone with their signature anecdotes and behavioural quirks whilst the weekend continues unhinged.
Eddie Halliwell is next on stage, and what a set he's having. The man is literally flying all over the mixing desk getting really involved in the tunes with cross fader tricks, frequency sweeps and kills; proving his knowledge of the tunes as he cuts and breaks between tracks with absolute precision. Perfectly mixing tune after tune, things just keep getting harder and harder, and the crowd are dying for a piece of this man. Eddie senses the need of the crowd, and after jumping up and down on stage, takes a minute or two during a rock-hard tune to come and greet his fans, extending his hand to many as the fans continue to whistle, scream and shout with pure admiration. A very nice touch indeed.
The mayhem continues as John Kelly followed by Corvin Dalek do the business on the decks for the next couple of hours, commanding the massive banks of Martin Audio speakers, shaking the entire venue with every bass note played.
With the hard hitting action well underway, Hard House Mistress Anne Savage goes back-to-back with the Lady of Dance Lisa Lashes for a stunning 2-hour set. The hard stuff just keeps coming; Paul Glazby's 'Motherf*cker' and BK's 'Bad Ass' does some serious damage on the dance floors as the crowd stomp away with delight. The dynamic duo delivers exactly what they want; heck, even the security guards are dancing!
Come 7am the crowd has dwindled down to a mere 50 or so hardcore dancers left, and Tristan Ingram steps up to the decks for the final set of the evening to deliver a few classics, including Solar Stone's 'Seven Cities' and the outstanding 'Café del Marco' to give what's left of the crowd a final boost before winding up at 8am.
Overall it was an extremely organised and successful event, and for all concerned, it was a weekend to remember. Therefore I stand fast when I say that this won't be the last of these events to come. Without further a due, get yourself booked on a customised Cultura Trip for next year, and with a bit of luck I'll see you all for another blinder at the Big Reunion 2003!!
For further information on Cultura Trips and the UPmarket branding, please visit the websites www.CulturaTrips.com or call 0870 160 9192.
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