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Soul Buggin' Celebrates Ten Years

22 September 14 interview: Scott Oliver
photos: Simon Parfrement

When Beane isn’t shovelling down doner in the name of his LeftLion kebab consumer advice column, he teams up with Wrighty for Soul Buggin’, Nottingham’s premier disco and soul night. As it turns ten, the boys reminisce on how it all started, their favourite guest DJs and the punters who got a bit too into the groove on the dancefloor...

Congratulations on the forthcoming tenth birthday: a long time in disco years. How did Soul Buggin’ get there?
Beane: It kinda grew organically. It started off as a bar session on a Friday night, moved around a fair bit through The Loft, The Old Angel, Snug and Bar Humbug. Then it started to gestate as a party.
Wrighty: Dave Kenny, who ran Moog, asked us if we fancied coming and doing a once-a-month thing there as Soul Buggin’. That’s the first time we had a proper home and it started to become what it is today. I suppose the other defining moment was getting Domu to play.

Was Soul Buggin’ borne of a gap in the Nottingham club scene that needed filling?
Wrighty: I’d been putting on nights for years, DJing for a very long time, and I found myself playing music I was bored of: the same 150 records, over and over again. I needed a night where I could play what I wanted. Luckily, people are happy to hear what we want to play, but even if they weren’t we’d be playing to two men and a dog in some small bar somewhere.
Beane: There was a night called Basement Boogaloo that had a great run of parties and I was genuinely gutted when they stopped. It left a massive vacuum, not just in our lives but in the city. There was no other night that played that sort of disco and house…
Wrighty: And soul and boogie. I know we call ourselves a disco night: it’s a disco, but we don’t like shiny. It’s the Kerri Chandler thing: a red light, a basement, and a soundsystem.
Beane: I see Soul Buggin’ as just another jigsaw piece in a long line of club nights that go back to Paradise Garage in New York and Electric Chair in Manchester. They may have gone but their spirit lives on.

Did getting ‘name’ DJs and charging entry create extra pressure?
Wrighty: The first night we charged, we knew we weren’t going to make money. But what we lost in money we thought we might gain back in terms of people’s loyalty.
Beane: The attitude is that it’s a party. It isn’t our livelihood. Some nights around town might pretend that they’re a party, but they’re run off a spreadsheet. That’s their livelihoods.
Wrighty: The funny thing is that when we started charging people, our regulars, many of whom are our mates, said they’d happily pay more. That gave us a bit of leeway to get bigger names in – knowing that people will do that if it’s something special. The list of leftfield spinners is pretty impressive: Dego, Recloose, Andy Weatherall, Ashley Beedle, Maurice Fulton.

Do you have a wishlist of DJs you’d like to book?
Wrighty: If there were no barriers at all, Larry Levan. But we can’t because he’s dead.
Beane: We’d love KDJ or Theo Parrish, but we can’t because of the size of the party.
Wrighty: I’m not averse to trying to wing it, though, “Will you do it for sod-all money?” They can only say no, can’t they?

You’re currently at The Bodega. Any plans to go to a bigger venue?
Wrighty: We’re happy, it’s a good venue. Intimate. They’re really good to us. The sound system’s excellent and we get posters in places we’d never get without them. But we don’t know. Things change.
Beane: We’re looking at doing four or five parties a year now. Some of our core audience are getting a bit older and have kids, so they’ll still come down, but not every month. Bodega has something on all the time, so you get people going “Oh, what’s this?” and popping in.

Who’s the edgiest DJ you’ve had?
Beane: Probably Andy Weatherall. It was veering on techno a lot of the time. I went to him at the end of the night and said I enjoyed it. He said, “I like to think it was soft enough for a lady, hard enough for a gentleman.”
Wrighty: Lucy Lockett just played old original disco 12”s. It wasn’t particularly edgy, but where else could you hear that in Nottingham? Dego played loads of nu-broken beat acetates, not even mastered. But none of it’s ‘edgy’ because it all sort of fits in with our weirdness. It’s a disco night, not a revival night. We want to play new stuff.
Beane: When we book DJs they often ask what we want them to play. We just say: do your thing. I don’t like hearing one style of music all night. One of the good things with Soul Buggin’ is that, even if you don’t like the tune that’s on, there’s always a good tune round the corner.

Which was your favourite guest DJ set?
Wrighty: Next you’ll ask me who my favourite child is!
Beane: If you held a gun to my head, Domu and Joey Negro.
Wrighty: If I had to pick two, I’d say Phil Asher’s first set at Moog and Ashley Beedle’s. He played all over the place.

And your favourite Nottingham-based guest DJ?
Wrighty: We liked Red Rack’em, but he’s Berlin-based now so doesn’t count. So, probably Crazy P and Osborne.

When you guest DJ as Soul Buggin’ for other nights, do you have any outrageous rider demands?
Beane: I’m happy with a kebab, really.
Wrighty: I have a ‘back, sack and crack’ wax.

Most unusual moves on the Soul Buggin’ dancefloor?
Beane: There was a guy who fell off a stage once and knocked himself out. And a three-way sex act in a corner of Bodega by the sound booth. That could be a compliment or a diss: either they’re not really into it, or they’re really into it.

Do you like to party at your party?
Wrighty: I can’t go too mental because I’ve got kids, but it’s not tea at the vicarage.
Beane: When you put in what we put in – people think it’s just one night a month. It’s not. It’s traipsing round the streets in the rain, postering. It’s worrying about money. So when it comes to it, we’re gonna let our hair down and go for it.

What, ten years ago, would you have hoped that Soul Buggin’ would be like now?
Wrighty: I didn’t. I couldn’t even begin to dream that we’d do a lot of the stuff we’ve done. There was a moment when Andy Weatherall was playing when we looked out onto the dancefloor and just said, “Yes!”
Beane: My only regret is that we didn’t do it sooner. I had my sensible head on at the time. When Domu and Benji B came down I could see what it could be like. When we started at Moog we’d have five people in there sometimes, but three years later it’d be 180, 200 people every month.
Wrighty: If you grow something too quickly, it dies. If you build up organically, you create a base of people.

What is it that tells you whether it’s been a successful party or not?
Beane: You’ve got to be a bit masochistic to put on a night: there’s stress, work outside normal hours, financial risk. But when it all comes together, seeing people lose it to weird records, you get this tingle. That’s better than any drug.
Wrighty: It’s a feeling. It’s just this warmth you get. You look back at the night and smile. That’s what keeps us going.

Soul Buggin’'s Tenth Birthday party takes place at The Bodega on Saturday 27 September, 11pm - 4am.

Soul Buggin' website

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