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21 years young: How House of God has lasted the tests of time…

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houseofgod.jpg On the 22nd February one of the UK’s longest standing club nights celebrated its 21st birthday at The Rainbow Warehouse in Birmingham. The legendary House of God has seen many venues, sights, DJs and eccentrics in its lifetime.

Birmingham in general has a revered club scene.  Venues such as The Que Club, The Custard Factory and nights like Atomic Jam and House of God have run through my ears for the past decade.  Their reputation of excellence travels far beyond the city borders.

I caught up with the promoters for a quick chat about what it is they have been doing so right for such a long time:

HoG is celebrating 21 years. Is it still the same crew working to promote and manage the night now as it was in the beginning?

The people involved in the first nights in 1993 are all still part of the crew.  We’ve added more DJ residents to the original crew of Sir Real, Surgeon & Paul Damage over the years but all the present people involved have been at it a long time. We’re friends, we like to party and that’s what keeps it going strong.  Once you’re in, we won’t let you out.

What do you think has made HoG so successful

Successful? Are we? Any positive reputation is based on the amazing crowd who keep supporting us and we try to make an effort on their behalf.

Talk me through your music/programming policy…

We use Boiler Room & Resident Advisor hits to book guests. Programming – start slow, get a bit lively, get everyone happy, make it sound like an apocalypse then play something brutal / silly at the end. We have always had multiple rooms – techno/house, drum & bass, old skool, breaks and when possible live bands, disco and all sorts of other styles. 

What has been your favourite venue for HOG over the years?

We’ve been happy in a number of venues. Best ones? The ones with the best atmospheres…

Over the past 21 years what have been the biggest changes you have seen in the world of clubbing in the UK?

The smoking ban fucked it right up for a while there.  Security don’t have dogs and crossbows anymore. There are more agents to deal with rather than direct relationships with DJ.

Any words of wisdom for new promoters trying to make a name for themselves?

Get good residents, don’t rip people off, don’t copy everyone else, don’t be a slave to fashion, make an effort, learn to budget, or conversely just do the opposite and you could end up massive!

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My own experience of HoG started in London when I was dropped off at a tube station, already running late to get to my train, to find that the tube station was shut. Replacement bus was waiting… I jumped on and we immediately got stuck in the worlds’ most infuriating traffic jam. In a rare case of human sympathy, the bus driver illegally let me out in the middle of the road and I ran… yes folks I ran, to the next tube station. I beat that bus by a long way. The tube station escalators were broken and I had to tediously crawl down 96 tight spiral steps behind the elderly and small children to finally make it to a tube and arrived at Euston in a crazy panic that I only had 3 minutes to get my ticket and find my train. Then in a moment of total genius I realised that I always set my watch ten minutes fast and in fact I had plenty of time! Birthday boy DJ Ashley Borg was my partner in crime for the evening and had the beers at the ready for the journey there.

I was soon one cider down and in need of the loo. I thought I was going a bit mad as the door locked behind me and a lovely calming female voice reminded me not to throw nappies, sanitary towels, goldfish or my hopes and dreams down this toilet.” Good old Virgin sense of humour.

We headed into The Rainbow Warehouse nice and early at 10:30pm – early enough in fact to receive a complimentary HoG badge. WIN! I was quite happy that the cloakroom was closed until 11pm as the place was flipping freezing. I did have to be that numpty with a rucksack on the dance floor for 30mins but at least it was still pretty empty so I couldn’t annoy anyone other than myself.

The first set from Nikki B was at background level, sociable, ambience and mood building house music. It was not what I was expecting from HoG at all but it is how every club night in the land should start. Nice and easy and in a good mood! 

We got beers and checked in our coats in time for the second DJ to be announced on stage. Each DJ throughout the night was introduced over the mic which was a nice touch, giving everyone the chance to cheer some thanks, rally some energy for the next one and also know who they were listening to if they were not near a set list.

Terry Donovan, an ex Tresor Resident was up next and was quite simply my set of the night. I therefore peaked hideously early but there was no way around it – he was just awesome. The place was filling up fast, the volume rose and it was now too loud to chat. It wasn’t even midnight yet and there was a great party happening on that dance floor. Bodies writhing, whistles of appreciation and dancing like a scene straight out of that vampire club in Blade – but without the blood.

 

Terry Donovan is just awesome – I am in love. Pumping electro vocal house machine-gunning-hand-clapping-thigh-slapping-two-feet-off-the-floor-brilliance. It was a storming warm up that included tunes like Surface Noise by Planetary Assault Systems, flipped from banging techno to party house to acid to old school to breaks. The set was flawless, varied, never dull, perfect.

The second room is Drum n Bass and every time I pop to the loo I can hear it persuading me to leave the techno and get back to my clubbing roots. I manage to resist for a while longer. HoG is filled with an eclectic crowd. A milestone party always brings out people who only leave the house for very special nights and there were many over 40s, probably some over 50s raving alongside students and showing them a thing or two. Dreadlocks danced with the totally coiffured. There was even a guy in a wheelchair with LED lights on the wheels (nice touch) – all sharing one space, one mind, one love. You could tell this was a regular crowd who had had as much to do with building the night over the years as the DJs themselves.

Continued on page 2

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Grahame Farmer

Grahame Farmer’s love affair with electronic music goes back to the mid-90s when he first began to venture into the UK’s beloved rave culture, finding himself interlaced with some of the country’s most seminal club spaces. A trip to dance music’s anointed holy ground of Ibiza in 1997 then cemented his sense of purpose and laid the foundations for what was to come over the next few decades of his marriage to the music industry.

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