A Phat Sssummer
When owner Dave White announced that Ian Pooley, the maestro of deep disco house, would be playing at the Phat Club this summer, the typical response was an incredulous "Not THE Ian Pooley".
Yes, THE Ian Pooley.
What's more, the legendary Dick "Magik" Johnson, resident DJ at Manchester's famous Hacienda during its heyday as well. And DJ Recloose from the birthplace of house, Detroit, plus the tech house of Carbon Cooperative from Melbourne.
And there's more: Salmonella Dub, who sold out the Artery the last time they were in Nelson, and the sophisticated pop reggae of Black Seeds.
Add to those the likes of popular New Zealand dance music acts, the Nomad, Concord Dawn, Sanka, Sandman, Project, Asphalt Sounds and Fat Freddys Drop.
Interweaving around them are such Nelson acts as Olab, Genetik, Alion and Minuit. And even more (see the gig lineup on page 16).
White says that altogether the lineup represents the biggest summer festival ever to hit Nelson in terms of contemporary live and electronic acts.
From December 18, next Wednesday, through January 17 the Phat Club will be throbbing to dance music practically every single night, which White says is the outcome of "quite a freak set of circumstances".
Much of it is a result of the Gathering not being on this year - and White coincidentally having opened a new dance music nightclub in Nelson back on July 4 this year.
"There's still a lot of hangover from the Gathering," he says, "and a lot of acts wanted to come to play Nelson because they heard about the Gathering."
Instead of White trying to find and lure acts to come and play at the Phat Club in Nelson this summer, he suddenly found himself swamped with offers.
Ian Pooley, being brought to New Zealand to play on New Year's Eve in Auckland, wanted to visit Nelson and Golden Bay and contacted White. The same with Dick Johnson.
Holiday homes have even been arranged in Golden Bay for Pooley and Johnson and their families to use.
"Actually, we'll have all the acts headlining the New Year's Eve parties in Auckland (Pooley), Christchurch's Alpine Unity (Black Seeds) and Visionz in Golden Bay (Zuvuyu, reggae from Invercargill) at the Phat Club this summer,"says White.
Making it all possible is the much-wanted extension to the club's dance floor. The club is to get phatter.
White has secured the lease on the adjoining building (the old Figpeckers premises) whose ground floor will become dance floor. It will double the club's patron capacity to around 300.
The expanded area allows the club to host the likes of Salmonella Dub, the Black Seeds and the international acts at a club which has already been the venue for several top New Zealand DJs, including P Money, Greg Churchill, Flux, Dannyboy, Agent Alvin, Chris Knox, Salmonella Soundsysterm, Mode, Concord Dawn and, from Melbourne, Miss DJ.
The expansion will also mean the club has a stage for acts to perform on. There will be new and improved male and female toilets as well.
White says the club has been successful, having quickly built up a loyal and dedicated following among dance fans and an older audience who like the music and the club's cocktails.
"We've been surprised at the number and variety coming in," he says, adding that the club's location in the upper Bridge St bar and club sector has helped, attracting passers-by as well as those who make it a destination.
The first main event in Phat Summer lineup will be the December 20 Christmas party featuring Salmonella Dub, veterans of all five Gatherings and Artery Intergalactic Balls. A VIP party for club members kicks off at 8pm then doors open to the public at 10pm, with Salmonella Dub live on stage around the midnight hour.
4 J Recloose, from Detroit, will bring his shape-shifting approach to music- making to the club on Christmas Eve, employing an amorphous aesthetic that mixes samples, chopped beats and rhythms predicated on tweaks and abstractions of sound, and using everything from Detroit techno and house to dub, reggae, jazz, hip-hop, soul and funk.
White points out that this gig will start at 6pm and, due to licensing laws, must finish at midnight - unusual times for dance clubbers who usually don't start until 10-11pm.
On Sunday, December 29, Carbon Cooperative (DJs Callum and Katu) will play their dirty tech/tribal house and progressive music. Katu hails from Melbourne, the duo's base, while Callum is ex-Nelson and DJed under the name Sola.
Resident club DJs, including Genetik, will drive the club's New Year's Eve or "Nu Yeah!" party.
"We decided to keep it local because it's going to be crazy anyway and to get an out-of-town act on New Year's Eve would cost a fortune," says White.
On Friday, January 3, Dick Johnson performs. Johnson played at the famous Hacienda nightclub in Manchester at the dawn of acid house (featured in the recent movie 24 Hour Party People) and was a resident DJ there for five years.
The Black Seeds and Zuvuya play the very next night and the following week sees Concord Dawn, Ian Pooley, Nomad and Minuit playing on consecutive nights, Thursday through Sunday (January 9- 12), respectively.
By the time January 18 rolls around, White is likely to be very, very tired. But the ex-Artery manager says running his own club has been much easier than running the Artery where he started work at 9am and often continued into the night and wee hours of the morning.
"My life is a lot more sane these days," he says.