Interview with Colin Bennett - promoter of Abduction
Reported by VinDiesel
Submitted 15-03-06 19:08
Colin Bennett is one of the most familiar, friendly smiling faces on the London club scene. This party animal has boundless amounts of energy and is regularly seen out either out and about most weekends in clubs or entertaining friends at his flat AKA the infamous Club Colin.
Back in October last year for his 30th Birthday, Colin decided to take a step up from being Colin the clubber to Colin the promoter and launched Abduction, a Friday night party featuring Phil Reynolds, James Lawson and other hard dance DJs playing to a packed Belushis in South London. The party has gone on to feature such leading hard dance DJs such as Nick Sentience, Macey, Brad Thatcher and more.
Now Abduction has moved and found a new home, the 3rd Base, for its party on 31 March. I decided to venture down to Club Colin to have a chat with this clubbing tour de force in order to find out more about Abduction and a few other matters, including his love for poles.
Hi Colin, how are you?
Iím fine thanks.
Ok so what made you decide to get into the big, sometimes scary world of promotion?
It kind of evolved really. I wanted to hold a party for my 30th and ideally Iíd have had it round my flat, but I have learnt from previous experience that environmental health take a dim view of that. Once youíve then decided to hire a venue, whose capacity would be say 300Ė400 people, it would be difficult to fill the place just with close friends in order to make it a good party. If you want people who arenít in your circle of friends to attend, you have to hire big name DJs who would pull the crowd in. In order to cover their fee you then have to charge on the door, but I kept the entrance free for the first hour so my mates wouldnít have to pay. I ran it as an experiment. If no one really turned up, Iíd have left it as a one off for my 30th. If it was well attended Iíd continue every two months or so. Luckily the place was rammed!
How did you come up with name Abduction?
A couple of years ago two friends, Bobby Buckley and DíArcy Demerse, started up a hard dance night in a bar in Old Street. They called it Abduction as it began with an ďAĒ, and as long as no one created a night called ďAardvarkĒ it would therefore appeared top of listings on web sites. After a couple of nights a dispute with the owner killed the night, but as I always liked aliens I decided to resurrect the name for my night.
A lot of people say that for a promotion to succeed, it has to offer something distinct, something that will grab clubbers attention and make them come to the party. What do you perceive Abduction to offer?
I try to run Abduction more as a party than a promotion. Thatís why it will always be run in the smaller 300Ė400 sized venues and will always be free entry for the first hour. That way everyone is equal, and not just those who are friends with DJs or promoters can get in for free. Each night will also have a different theme. The first theme was a birthday party, the second was aliens and the theme for 31 March is 2001/2010 so donít be surprised if you see a monolith on the dance floor!
How did you get involved in Clubbing?
I was into heavy metal in my teens, wearing black clothes and steel toe capped Doc Martins. By the time I was 18 my friends, who beforehand had the same taste in music as I had, started going to Club UK and I was curious about what all the fuss was about. Dancing all night and Doc Martins donít go together very well though. First thing the next day I bought some trainers!
You have been DJing for a number of years. When did you start and what styles do you like mixing in?
I bought a crappy pair of belt drives when I was 20 and finally graduated to Technics two years later so Iíve been DJing for over 10 years, mostly university gigs and house parties. Originally I played acid trance and hard house, but now I prefer uplifting hard trance. I have a habit of inviting people round after a night out, so unless the music gives you energy and lifts you up everyone either falls asleep or goes home.
Youíve played at every one of your parties. Do you ever get stressed or nervous having to juggle running and DJing at your own party?
The first event was a bit stressful as Iíd never run a party before and there were a few inevitable teething problems. The combination of dealing with these problems, while at the same time trying to welcome all my friends, many of whom had come from outside London to wish me a happy 30th, was a bit hectic. Thankfully with the help of Martin Begley and Marky Mark, my Abduction co-partners, who were absolute stars, we sorted everything out As I was DJing second by the time I got to play my first tune all the problems were fixed so I could relax and enjoy playing my set.
Describe the music policy of Abduction?
The music policy is predominantly hard trance, but Iím tempted to start incorporating hard house now the night has moved to a venue with a later 6am license.
Some promoters stick to quite a strict music policy at their events. Do you do the same with your DJs, i.e. ensure they play a certain style, at a certain pace and contribute to the progression of the night?
Definitely not. As it is a smaller night, attended by up-for-it clubbers who love the music, I hope it gives DJs the opportunity to experiment. If a DJ is playing at Brixton Academy or Koko there will be the temptation not to take risks in front of such a large crowd. In front of a smaller audience I hope the DJ feels free to play a slightly different set, with tunes you might not ordinarily hear. This should make the night different and more enjoyable for both the DJ and the audience. Having said that, I do tend to put Phil Reynolds towards the end of the night, as he is ďMr ReliableĒ and guaranteed to keep everyone on the dance floor. I tend to play a fair share of classics to get everyone off their seats and warm the crowd up nicely for the professional DJs playing afterwards.
A lot has been mentioned about the politics between different promotions and how intense this can be. Some perceive this as detrimental to the future of the hard dance scene whilst others say that intense competition and rivalry leads to high levels of production in events. Where do you stand on this?
To be honest I think a lot of people in hard dance take it all far too seriously and forget itís meant to be fun. Iíve been lucky enough that promotions such as Heat and Most Wanted have helped me advertise my night and include it on their ďrecommended eventsĒ, something which Iím very grateful for. In my view the main battle is one of declining audiences. Itís very rare there are two big events I would want to go to on the same night. Part of the reason I run Abduction is to make sure there is something good on a Friday night, as big events tend to be on a Saturday.
Abduction has featured some of the biggest names on the hard dance scene including Phil Reynolds, Nick Sentience and James Lawson. Which DJs do you plan to feature in the future?
I pick DJs who I had the time of my life listening to in the past. I also tend to pick people who Iíve spoken to over the years, are approachable and are happy enough speaking to an ordinary clubber as they are a promoter or fellow DJ. As I want each night to be different I will try to vary the line up, and hope to book DJs such as *Ting* or Danny Gilligan in the future. *Ting* is the ultimate performer, she always gets the crowd going and Iíve always enjoyed Dannyís sets, his taste in music is immaculate.
Parties have grown, become more and more successful and moved onto bigger venues, bigger lines ups etc. Would you like to see Abduction grow like this?
Never. I always want to keep the small intimate party atmosphere. I donít always enjoy the big events, especially those on new year when itís too rammed, hot and you spend half the night looking for people. Besides itís unrealistic financially to have a night at one of the bigger venues and keep it free entry for the first hour.
As for bigger line ups I would say that Abductionís line up can stand up against the bigger eventís line up and be proud. The next Abduction has Phil Reynolds, Marc French and Trevor McLachlan, which is an exceptional line up by any standard. I aim to have the best of both worlds, the worlds top DJs in an affordable intimate venue.
Describe the most important aspects which you think make a perfect venue and why they are important to you?
I always like to see the DJ when I go out, so I like the DJ booth be in good view of the dance floor. As I hate sweat pits good air circulation or air conditioning is a must. As Martin Begley has his own sound system and I have my own decks and mixer, Iím not too worried about the set up as I know we can compensate for any deficiencies.
A lot has been mentioned about the hard dance scene becoming quieter with lower attendances? Why do you think this is? Do you think people have too much choice, there is not enough creativity etc?
To be honest part of me prefers the hard dance scene now than five or so years ago when it was the ďin thingĒ to do. At least now you know people are clubbing because they love it, not because they are trying to follow the latest trend. I have noticed the lack of new tunes about these days, I donít buy nearly as much vinyl when I go record shopping and a lot of new releases are on digital only. I think it was inevitable that things would become a bit quieter, no style of music stays at the top forever. One reason Iím optimistic hard dance will grow in popularity at some point is because of a house party I went to recently. I was fighting over the music choice with people who werenít into hard dance. Once I pointed out that those who were allegedly not into my music danced when my CD was on, but sat down once their preferred choice was on they conceded the battle.
This makes your job quite difficultÖ so how do you appeal to the clubber to come to your party?
Thankfully as the venues I use for Abduction have a capacity of 300Ė400 people I donít have to worry too much about the hard dance scene shrinking, as I donít need 1000s of people to attend. In a way hard dance could be considered to be moving back to its roots. As for ways to encourage people to come to Abduction I try to do something different and random. At the last night I shaved my head and dressed up as an alien Father Christmas. Unfortunately people thought I was the Grinch!
Ah yes your outfit for the Xmas abduction, Santa Claus meets the Grinch. You seem to have a penchant for dressing up at your parties. How the heck do you come up with these themes for your parties? Is after many flaming sambucas on a Saturday night out, or on the cold winter Monday morning walk to work?!
Iíve had a bit of a habit of dressing up when Iíve gone out clubbing. For New Yearís Eve I once had mini lights round me and I looked like a Xmas tree. Another time I had a Burnís night round my flat before going out so I went out in a kilt. The only difference now is itís my night I dress up for my own night not someone elseís!
A lot of promotions have decided to offer specialised flavours inc a trance, house, breaks etc. Do you intend doing a funky Abduction, breaks, Abduction etc.?
WellÖ never say never but I donít plan to. Itís not really my taste in music.
Clubbing forums such as HarderFaster and DSI are great for not only providing the clubber with information about events but also giving feedback from people. However unfortunately some decide to get quite vitriolic and savagely criticise the party. How do you deal with this ? Does some of it make your blood boil and you want to come on and have it out with the clubber, or just say ďwhat a load of bollocksĒ?
As long as itís constructive, negative feedback is the best feedback, as it allows you to improve. There is nothing worse than people saying everything is perfect, and then criticising the night behind your back. Iíve always tried to be straight with friends and other promoters and let them know what I truly think, and I hope theyíll do the same for me. It can be difficult to please everyone though. Iíve had feedback about the same DJ on the same night varying from awful to awesome! Feedback like ďwhat a load of bollocksĒ is less useful unless people say why it is a load of bollocks. Equally if someone likes the night, saying what they like ensures you can deliver more of the same.
Ok tell me more about the next Abduction coming up on March 31st at 3rd Base. As well as featuring the great Phil Reynolds, we have some other great names on the line up.
Yup, we have Marc French playing for the first time at Abduction, which Iím very much looking forward to. Iíve wanted him to play before but certain things, like him getting married down under, got in the way. We also have Trevor McLachlan playing. One of my favourite moments clubbing was listening to him play on a boat party in Ibiza. A photo taken at the time should appear on a CD Iíll be handing out on the night. Lastly Matt Gardner, one of the most underrated DJs, is playing the final set. Iíve had three separate people rave about how fantastic a DJ he is, and when I finally got to hear him play I couldnít agree more.
I know that you are well renowned for your love of pole dancing. In fact you are the first to be scene leaping onto the pole at Addiction!
[LaughterÖ] Well I might have had a few drinks at that point and Iím usually game for anything.
Apparently Iíve heard that poles have been installed at Club Colin.
Iím friends with a couple of Swedish girls who have been taking pole dancing lessons. They asked me to put a pole up so they could practice their moves, who am I to refuseÖ. To be honest, it gets used mostly for support to get from one side of my lounge to the other when I open Club Colin. A pole makes it easier not to fall over or tread on someone when the lounge is packed full of clubbers from the night before.
Explain to me your fascination with thisÖis it the long broad hard metallic structure or rather the body entwined round it?
UmmÖ it might be the Swedish girls entwined round itÖ
What are your plans for the future? I see that you have played out the recent Shiver in a back to back with Tina Martin. Would you like to do more gigs, or focus on promoting Abduction?
I have no ambition to be a professional DJ, which is why Iíll always play for free to make sure Iím doing it for fun not money. Iíd hate to be playing out every week, as it would dictate my social life. My ideal is to play out once a month or so, half of those being at Abduction.
What have you learned (good and bad) from your recent short experience as a promoter?
Iíve learnt itís far more work than you could possibly imagine. The worst bit has to be dealing with venue owners. I was however pleasantly surprised about how much support all my friends were willing to give. Without their help promoting, flyering, setting up the venue and most importantly helping packing up afterwards I wouldnít be able to run Abduction.
Do you prefer crack ons or after parties?
Crack ons, because itís more sociable and you can talk to people properly.
Thanks a lot Col. See you at Abduction.
Photos courtesy of Davey Boy and VinDiesel. Not to be reproduced without permission.
Friday 31st March
3rd Base [map]
10pm - 6am
FREE before 11pm (£5.00 after 11pm)
Payment on the door only (no guest list)
PM Colin Bennett for more info
Phil Reynolds , Marc French and Trevor McLachlan will each be playing the best in hard dance at Abduction, now at the amazing venue 3rd base (the downstairs room at Mass in Brixton). Phil Reynolds is the undisputed king of uplifting hard trance, having rocked every major venue in London and overseas. Marc French, the godfather of hard dance, erupted on the scene at the legendary Club UK in 1993 and is now HeatUKís most popular resident. Trevor McLachlan, the resident DJ at Twisted and Friendz, is the recent author of the uplifting hard-trance classic ĎThe Voiceí.
Phil Reynolds has been Londonís No.1 hard dance DJ for the past 6 years. His sets are the very definition of perfection. No matter how tired you are at the end of the night, his performances are guaranteed to keep you on the dance floor. Frantic, Heat and Innovate have experienced his unique brand of uplifting hard trance.
Marc French has been DJing since the beginning of clubbing as we know it. Venues such as Club UK, Turnmills, The Fridge, Bagleys (now Canvas), Koko and Brixton Academy have experienced his unique driving style. Promotions from Frantic, Sunnyside Up, Fevah and Heat have sought his hard hitting, upfront sound.
Trevor McLachlan, the James Bond of hard dance, has been a regular fixture at events such as Innovate, Extreme Euphoria, Tidy vs Extreme Euphoria, HeatUK and Tilt. His pumping sets are full of energy, leaving you shaken but not stirred!
Matt Gardner is undisputedly the hottest new DJ to hit the scene. His perfect mixing and immaculate tune selection has led him to be called the next Phil Reynolds. You wonít want to miss his closing set!
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Other Features By VinDiesel:
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Alf takes the Technikal View
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Get attracted to Magnetix
Phil Reynolds starts the Digital Revolution: Part Two
The views and opinions expressed in this review are strictly those of the author only for which HarderFaster will not be held responsible or liable.