On 25th March 2017, a night of spine tingling nostalgia hit Preston Guild Hall as Dance Decade presented The P.A’s Part II — a huge old school dance event to bring back memories and create goosebumps. Who remembers Bassheads, Rozalla and Oceanic? Mix Factory, FPI Project and Dancin Divaz? Adamski, Davos and K Klass? Some of you may not have been born when these guys were smashing out belters in the 90s, whereas some of you may have been fist pumping and throwing all sorts of outrageous shapes, but either way here’s what the night was all about….
Oh yes! That’s what I’m talking about! Bass, beats, keyboards, synthesizers, euphoria and a venue full of fun loving party people ready to take a trip down memory lane and re-live a very special era of dance music. My girlfriend and I were invited to this epic event by our friend Desa, of Bassheads fame. Since writing and producing that cult classic Top 5 hit ‘Is There Anybody Out There?’ in 1991, Desa has worked on various music projects including last year’s Bassheads Festival and currently hosts a Friday night underground funk and disco show (7pm – 10pm) on Wirral Radio 92.1fm / DAB. We had a great crew with us travelling to Preston that Saturday night and it also included another Wirral dance act, Oceanic, headed by Jorinde, who had a Top 3 hit in 1991 with ‘Insanity’.
Going to Preston for a massive old school dance night and being part of a Bassheads and Oceanic crew was surreal in itself, but things soon became even more offbeat. We met up with Desa and the Bassheads crew at their hotel before being escorted to the Preston Guild Hall venue — and what a bizarre venue it was! Situated within a huge shopping complex, you pass all sorts of shops and take a few escalators before reaching the two levels of the massive venue. When we arrived, DJ Faydz was doing his thing and the place was booming already! The labyrinth continued and we were guided round the side of the stage to the VIP backstage area, where the other iconic 90s dance acts were relaxing and preparing pre-gig.
We experienced a taste of the rock star lifestyle backstage as the private area included various fridges with an array of beers, spirits and all sorts of different alcoholic beverages. Desa had really done us proud here — talk about looking after us! After cracking on with our ten strong crew and meeting some of the legends that made the early 90s so iconic, it was soon time to come out of the back and watch the action from our VIP area to the side of the stage. First up on stage was Bassheads fronted by Desa, MC Cyanide aka Glenn Kirkham and ex China Crisis keyboard player Glyn Williams, along with the spectacular fire artists, Emma and Sallie. Bassheads opened with ‘Back To The Oldschool’ and created a euphoric energy from the off, with great crowd interaction, lively MCing and those classic 90s electronic harmonies.
The venue was packed full of thousands of whistle blowing and glow stick waving dance fanatics, all throwing shapes and bouncing around as if it was their first ever rave — some of whom I’m sure were slightly jealous of our exclusive position with the stars to the side of the stage. Bassheads did two new tracks in the middle of their set and got the crowd seriously pumped before the crescendo of ‘Is There Anybody Out There?’ which was received with a rapturous response and a great way to start this huge Dance Decade event. As lights flashed and smoke blasted out, the night continued with Rozalla, who emphatically bellowed out her 1991 classic ‘Everybody’s Free (To Feel Good)’ — and feel good is exactly what everyone certainly did!
Uplifting female vocals are synonymous with early 90s dance music and following Rozalla we were graced by Oceanic and the charismatic Jorinde. Over 25 years may have passed, but the quality of voice and the energy of the music was delivered with just as much purpose as back in the day. That legendary hit, ‘Insanity’, was performed alongside other hits such as ‘Controlling Me’ and by this point we were utterly proud to have been part of such a cool Merseyside crew!
Next came Mix Factory, followed by FPI Project, and as we occasionally left our VIP area for a wander, we realised how many people were there and what a big night this was! Most of the people there were the original party people from back in the day and we didn’t meet one arsehole — just people there to dance and have a good time. The great thing about events like this is you don’t get that ego or attitude that you can occasionally find at events of other electronic music genres. As for the huge venue, we managed to get lost on more than one occasion and stumbled across all sorts of bizarre rooms.
The live show continued with Dancing Divaz before the uplifting Adamski, who’s set included that famous track of his — the collaboration with Seal that reached No.1 in the UK charts, ‘Killer’. It truly was keyboard and synth central at this event and following Adamski’s keyboard masterclass, Davos played some timeless classics to entertain an already ecstatic Preston Guild Hall. The night was rounded off nicely by K Klass who hit us with all their classic hits, notably ‘Rhythm Is A Mystery’, that kept us singing and dancing until 4am.
The drive back to Wirral from Preston on the Sunday following a heavy night and not much sleep wasn’t as arduous as one would expect, due to the feeling of ecstasy, euphoria and uplifting music still resonating deep within our souls. Upon reflection, I think it’s a beautiful thing that people out there still hold onto certain eras of music and keep them alive along with memories of people, places and times. It’s important to move with the times and appreciate the evolving nature of electronic music, but it’s equally if not more important to remember the people who have helped shape electronic music along the way and remember the fun times we’ve shared enjoying the music.
Images courtesy of Project One Photography & Miles And Miles Media