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For those who love music: the Proactive story

Reported by Proactive / Submitted 18-09-06 14:28

Sitting down to write the official history of Party Proactive is both an exciting and daunting prospect. Exciting because it’s going to be the first time even we’ve seen all we’ve achieved written down in black and white and daunting because if this is going to be the official history I’d better make sure I don’t leave anything out! And there’s a lot to remember . . .

For many of you it’ll have been our parties at Turnmills that would have caught your attention. From our launch in May of this year to our final extravaganza of The Big Bang on the 4th November it’s been an incredible year. Dancing in Turnmills all those years ago I would never have believed it if you’d told me one day I’d be holding a party there — and not just any party but one that’s going from strength to strength as more people join the Proactive train to Partyville. It’s been a long and winding journey and at times we didn’t think we’d make it, but we have! And I would love for you to sit down with a cuppa and let me tell you the story . . .

One day back in 2002 Fairy Godmother *Ting*-a-ling thought it a cracking idea to start a record label. Knowing good people when she saw them she gathered together her friends Joanna McEwen and Paul Jack (formerly Label Manager of Arktik Records) to launch what became Proactive Records. And what a launch it was. Held at the Purple Turtle in Camden, a venue synonymous with all things alternative — including the outrageous parties held on Saturday nights by The *Ting* herself — the launch set the stage for everything else to come. At that time the music was purely hard dance so along with the best djs: Ed Real, James Sterling Moss, The *Ting*, Kevin Energy and Allen TG. Miss Demener D’Amour performed a world-class angle grinding striptease, Empress Stah wowed the crowds with her aerial trapeze routine and outrageous strawberry piercing walkabout, champagne flowed, balloons popped and the colourful and flamboyant crowd partied hard. It was clear we had the makings of something very good.

For almost a year we ran every Saturday at the Turtle as Party Proactive, building up our crowd, evolving our sound and generally having a great time. Even in those humble beginnings we strove to put on the best music possible and began to incorporate hard dance with techno with electro with breaks, psy trance and house — something which nobody on the hard scene was doing. It truly was a melting pot of talent with us giving Greg Brookman his first ever set, Alex Calver’s first London gig and asking Steelo to join us as resident after his splendid beginning of arriving slightly the worse for wear, tripping over his record bag and playing a blinding set (very Party Proactive!). DJs like Madam Zu, Chris Cee, Ed Real and Billy “Daniel” Bunter, who would be as at home playing across the road in Camden Palace, would also play for us because it was such a wicked party. Thanks guys.

When we were asked to leave the PT in August 2003 we had a decision to make — should we continue releasing our tracks on Proactive Records and forget about the party or take what we had to the next stage? Well, proactive by name proactive by nature (sorry, had to fit that in somewhere!) and with the help of our friends planned a “thank you” party for all those who had supported us. With only a month to plan and advertise we were a little naïve but determined and all was going well when we discovered two days before that the venue was flooded — disaster! Almost . . .

As we have discovered along our journey, on more than one occasion now, the best things can come from what would at first seem a catastrophe and we managed, with help from the previous venue owner, to secure another venue — Deep Blue — and with real palm trees, coconuts, hibiscus flowers, tunes provided by our friends Mrs Wood, Peter Ward, Matt Smallwood, the ever present Steelo and, of course, us! The love and support of our many Proactive friends set the next stage of our adventure in motion.

The next few months were spent concentrating on the label. We changed distributors, had some wicked releases, including ‘Drop It’ by Pete Wardman, which were bought as far afield as Brazil and Australia (if you’d like to listen to them go to and things were progressing nicely albeit a little slowly. Another party was needed! So with the help of the fabulous Jacob Moss, who from this point onwards became the creative mastermind behind the Party Proactive artwork, and the wonderful Jess the Cat who joined the team as PR guru, we began to plan the next party to be held at what was then Club Supreme. Excellent. We decided the line-up, the flyers were designed, the vibe picking up a pace when . . . disaster! Almost . . .

The evening before the party we received a phone call to say the club had closed due to a drive-by shooting and there was no way we could hold our party there (lucky escape me thinks!). That night we phoned around everyone we could possibly think of to find another venue. It had to be in Vauxhall or nearby because we didn’t have time to tell people the venue change, so where? After frantic calls to every promoter, dj and club industry bod we could think of, at midnight we managed to secure Studio 33. At 5.30 the next morning the Proactive possie got up to go to New Covent Garden market and buy fresh flowers, ivy and blossom branches for the décor which, being spring time, was the only possible décor to have, and spent the day without further incident (bar locking the keys in the car and requiring the RAC to come out to unlock it for a hefty fee).

That cold night in March, with Paul standing outside the now defunct Club Supreme to direct people to the party, the evening began. Little did we realise that rumours and texts were already flying about our party being cancelled and many of those who did decide to come on the off chance were greeted by cancelled trains and rival promoters guiding them off to different parties. Bugger. So it was, by numbers standards, an unsuccessful party. We would have been absolutely gutted except one thing: the atmosphere created by those who attended was exactly what we were all about — friendly, flamboyant, smiley people who had battled against all the odds to get to us and were dancing to music which we knew was the best to be had.

But decisions had to be made. With the Proactive family member number five on the way (the soon to be born, Matilda), some serious thinking needed to take place. What were we doing? Should we continue? Were we being fools?!?! No! We knew what we were doing was a good thing. We followed that party with another at Studio 33 where our beloved butterflies were introduced and Pete Wardman, our staunch supporter and newly found friend became resident. But something wasn’t quite right. With a new venue needed, where to now? Fire of course! With its incredible sound system and memories of craziness from our mornings at Twist, we felt sure this would be the place to hold Party Proactive. Some people were unsure about the venue but wherever we went we made sure it was Party Proactive and with butterflies and flowers in tow we made the transition across the road.

This was it! (we thought). Jacob was now on board as co-promoter, we’d had two successful parties with two cracking lineups (First time Mark Moore and Billy Nasty have appeared on the same billing I’m sure!) and a glowing review in DJ Mag as being one of the top nights to go to in London and the UK. Result. And then . . . disaster! Almost . . .

A couple of weeks before the third party a friendly email came winging its way to us asking if we realised another party was being held at Fire the same night as ours. You are joking? We couldn’t believe it! For the third time we’d lost our venue. So what to do? This time we couldn’t sort out a venue good enough to do justice to what had become a well-defined, two-roomed, wild-party affair, so with a heavy heart we put out a press release announcing the cancellation.

Now, it’s at this point things became really interesting. We’d always wanted the best — the best music, the best decor, the best atmosphere, the best people — and with more balls than brass approached the only venue in London town that we with all our heart wanted to hold a party in: the world-famous, hallowed halls of Turnmills. Danny the owner, being a sensible type of chap, took one look at us and . . . laughed. No, not really. Being a sensible type of chap he could see what we had — a party where the music was like nothing else, with hard dance, techno, electro, tribal, breaks, psy trance, whatever! Being blended to create a cocktail of musical fabulousness, whose clubbers were the motliest crew you could imagine (well, we had been to a fair few clubs picking up people as we boogied along the way), where it didn’t matter if you were straight, gay, bunny girl, disco queen or raver boy and whose promoters had such passion and love for the music and party they promoted he couldn’t help but take the chance and invite us in.

So here we are. Our final party of 2006 on the 4th November — our fourth at Turnmills. We’ve struggled through lost venues, lost money, lost keys but never lost faith. We’ve given our all and in return had the most amazing of adventures all with the love and support of you guys who’ve had faith in us and our musical choices. No official history would be complete without some kind of roll call to give people their dues so . . . djs have included Atomic Hooligan, Andy Farley (our newest resident), Billy Nasty, Dave Angel, Danny Gilligan, DJ Preach from Canada, DJ Paulette from Paris, Jonty Skrufff, Jim Masters, Justin Bourne, Mark Moore, Mrs Wood, Pagano, Queen Maxine, Rachel Auburn, Soto (Botchit and Scarper), Tasty Tim, The Visitor (Jon Pleased Wimmin) and of course our most fabulous of residents Alex Parsons, Jacob Moss, Pete Wardman and The *Ting*. With big love and massive thanks to the friends who’ve helped along the way: AndyAndy, Baby Red, Daf, Danny Gilligan, Jess the Cat, K.A.R.L., Luke, Poppy, Sunnyside, Will and of course, all of you guys for coming to party with us (man, I’ve always wanted an Oscar moment).

If you’re free on the 4th November we’d love for you to join us for our final party of the year. As you can see it’s been a roller coaster of a ride and the November party will truly be a celebration of all we (and that means you too) have achieved. To live up to our promise we’ve put together what we think is our best lineup yet (yes, I know we always say that but they keep on getting better!). 2007 has got some big things happening but we’re going to keep those for a surprise for next year. So for now, come help us see 2006 out with a Bang! Booooooooooooooowai!!!!!!!

All Proactive artwork courtesy of Jacob Moss. Photography thanks to Daf and Vixta. Not to reproduced without permission.
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Other Features By Proactive:
Party Proactive preview with Adam Newman
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.

From: ~deleted1390 on 19th Sep 2006 08:39.25
Good work Proactive. A truly forward thinking party that deserves plenty of success. Which it seems to be getting as well. Thumbs up

From: Danny Gilligan on 19th Sep 2006 08:44.28
Looking forward to hearing Eskimo and Farley and Wardman b2b,shoul dbe another quality night!

From: Jacob on 19th Sep 2006 09:40.02
so much has happened this year alone, really looking forward to the final chapter of 2006...Should be a cracker!

From: Mizz_behavin on 19th Sep 2006 18:03.40
I cant wait for November, its the best party in London at the moment Bring it on

From: Matt Smallwood on 19th Sep 2006 19:43.10
Wicked, PP is smashing it! Well done to all involved and long may it continue :o)

From: *cheeky chick* on 20th Sep 2006 10:08.33
I love the party and love the vibe.
this event has something unique and special going on.
cant wait to see what the proactive crew have in store for us in 2007 Heartbeat

From: Menthol Taz on 20th Sep 2006 15:39.05
Nice one PP crew. My story is similar & I know too well how hard it hits when venues let you down.
Well done for sticking with it & producing a fantastic party at Turnmills. You have a great crowd, some innovative ideas & sounds & I wish you all the best.
See you in Nov... big love x

From: Lizzie Curious on 20th Sep 2006 17:06.38
What a great read! Fair play for triumphing so many times over adversity to put on such a special party!

From: Hanky on 20th Sep 2006 18:32.35
Its an absolutely superb party, always innovating and pushing things forward while other things seem to be going stale. long live proactive!

From: Jennie B on 20th Sep 2006 21:31.08
wicked wicked wicked.
Proactive - for what i like - is def the BEST saturday night party! Can't wait to get back there after having to miss the last party! Woooooot!

From: klubkid on 21st Sep 2006 13:09.51
i LUUUURVE proactive - gets better n better - roll on November ;-)

From: K.A.R.L. on 21st Sep 2006 18:55.06
An amazing story and am so glad to be a part of everything that has happened this year. Roll on the 4th November, it's going to be a special night indeed. Thumbs up

From: andyandy on 21st Sep 2006 21:34.08
Proactive; the best thing to happen to clubbing this side of the millenium. Roll on 2007!

From: twist on 22nd Sep 2006 13:07.51
Jeeez when you read that it really does look like a bumpy ride but really pleased you have found a great home.
Just goes to show perseverance prevails.
Is there anyone NOT going to the final PP on 4/11?
Congratulations on an amazing year.

From: Mike Harris on 22nd Sep 2006 15:52.33
Fantastic party ran by fantastic ppl, long may it continue! Thumbs up

From: Dickon Laws on 22nd Sep 2006 17:26.32
What doesnt kill you makes you stronger. Congrats to Team PP and to m'old mukka Paul. Long may it continue for you.

From: paul jack on 24th Sep 2006 17:54.13
blimey just noticed on the feature we missed out Venessa!!! booooooooooo hiiiiiiiisssss - I would like to say a massive thanky uo to Venessa for all her help and for being party of the team!

From: Chris Cee on 25th Sep 2006 23:16.44
Good ole Vee, a piece of the Proactive Decor! (In a nice way babe)

Well Done Team Party Proactive, may 2007 be even better for you,

From: Banga Matt on 26th Sep 2006 15:01.19
proactivvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvv !

From: STACE on 27th Sep 2006 18:13.26
Claps Hands a fine example of how things should be done....

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