Winter Party 2000: Co. Meath Mosney Holiday Centre

It'll hardly change the infrastructure of corporate raves as we know them...

The lure of the big speakers in a big top is far too lucrative an attraction to reserve for the summer silly season. So just in case you thought there is a lull after largin’ it all summer long, we suddenly have an elongated dance festival season crawling into mid-November that boasts the Bugged Out! Weekender and tonight’s inaugural Winter Party 2000 as star-studded highlights.

As the rather over-obvious title implies, it’ll hardly change the infrastructure of corporate raves as we know them, particularly as this is merely a half-day event running until the outrageously scabby curfew of midnight. The line up is marginally more promising, especially considering that Sasha, John Digweed and former Underworlder Darren Emerson haven’t shared the same set of decks in Ireland in over five years. Indeed, if this juicy coup had been hosted in just another trendy Dublin nighterie, most of tonight’s crowd would be refused entry on underage grounds, not too mention their penchant for sporting boiler suits luridly emblazoned with Mitsubishi logos.

Before the superstar DJ supershow really kicks off, the relatively unknown warm up cast go down a storm. Irish stalwarts Alan Simms, Billy Scurry, Col Hamilton and Johnny Moy all pack in punter-friendly party packs that give the superstar jocks a good run for their extortionate appearance fees. Hamilton signs off with the current Alan Braxe smash ‘Running’, while the exuberant Johnny Moy pumps out a set choc-a-bloc with raver’s delights such as Josh Wink’s ‘French Kiss’-flavoured ‘How’s Your Evening So Far?’ As a visibly elated Moy concludes with the deviant charms of the Plastikman classic ‘Spastik’, Emerson’s entourage of gyrating dancers begin havin’ it in the wings.

Straight after Darren’s ‘Ibiza Uncovered’-style entrance, the seasoned purveyor of quality techno and house suffers a severe and unfortunate bout of crossfader failure. Once sorted, the grinning Del Boy of dance bounces back with a savage burst of floorfillin’ salvos, and even finds room for the irresistible tech-house fury of Underworld’s ‘Kittens’, an act that for some bizarre reason Monsieur Emerson hasn’t been dropping during his nights out of late.

Digweed follows on from the Big Fella with a hearty chunk of melodic progressive house, before being cruelly sabotaged by a complete PA cut out. The madferit crowd bellow for more as Diggers and spinning partner Sasha look bemused, confused and very pissed off. Before it all becomes too much of a celebrity DJ’s worst nightmare, the sound mercifully returns, but it takes a precarious few minutes until the treble and bass levels fully boom back into life.

Sasha gets a far better run of it with a fluid mix of tripped-out trance and house. As the night runs into its final hour, both take up the Technics reins to pull out the hits such as Sasha’s epic ‘Out Of Control’ remix and the Emerson/Sasha collaboration ‘Scorchio’. Despite a bumper dose of crowd pleasers, the Winter Party faithful remain slightly subdued. While the duo are currently conquering America from the vantage point of their Twilo residency, this is by no means a classic Sasha/Digweed double header as captured on the ‘Renaissance’ or ‘Northern Exposure’ compilations. Indeed, by tonight’s evidence, the A-list jock most likely to lift mainstream DJ culture out of a ‘trance is knackered’ regressive house rut could be Darren Emerson. If he can continue to tread the line between cheese and credibility as stylishly as this, the D-boy might just have what it takes to render both terms obsolete.

Eamon Sweeney

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