A couple of issues ago, in this very space, we wrote of the supposed ‘death’ and renaissance of superclubs in Britain (well, it was the club night Renaissance that was being discussed at the time). In Scotland, though, our superclub has never gone away. Colours still rolls on after almost two decades in the business, while the undoubted highlight of their year remains the Coloursfest dance music festival, which is about to hold its seventh annual event.
What’s its secret? ‘You’ve got to make what you do a big deal for people,’ says Colours head Ricky Magowan. ‘Whether it’s Coloursfest or our monthly nights at the Arches, we really try to fill the bill with big names, to let people know they’re going to be getting something special. It’s the big stars who keep drawing people in.’
Coloursfest’s 2008 vintage certainly isn’t wanting in terms of big names. The main styles catered for over six separate arenas are trance and hard dance, with diversions into tech-house, Ibiza house and, of course, good old-fashioned rave music. In the Colours/Inside Out arena, though, it’s trance which holds sway, as the hugely popular Paul Van Dyk takes headline status, backed up by Radio 1’s Judge Jules and more.
Ministry of Sound’s Gallery night takes over the second arena with a massive line-up which includes Tall Paul, Faithless’ Sister Bliss, Nick Warren, Dave Seaman and Scotland’s own Chris Lake. The Tidy Boys lead the hard dance sounds on stage three, heading a bill which also includes Alex Kidd and Lisa Pin Up, while John Jones, Luke Neville and Carl Hanaghan are in Hed Kandi’s smoother fourth arena.
The Back to the Future Arena will be monopolising rave sounds for the day, with Technoboy and Tommyknocker leading the charge. And finally, Dave Pearce and Judge Jules, once more, head up the Radio 1 Outdoor Arena, with the station recording for an Essential Mix to be aired nationwide the next week.
In short, it’s a monster of a show, particularly as all of the excitement is spread over one day. ‘Scottish crowds are so friendly and enthusiastic,’ confirms Technoboy about the reason so many big-name DJs consider Coloursfest a highlight of the summer. ‘They’re ready to go totally nuts. It’s great to play before a crowd like that because you can’t help but get excited.’
Alex Kidd concurs. ‘I made my debut at this festival last year. It was my first Scottish festival so I was pumped up and eager to see how it would all go down, and it turned into one of the highlights of my summer. Some of the most exotic and surreal stadium and festival experiences I’ve had in places like Australia, Ibiza and Holland all lack the vibe and energy that I feel when I play to the Scottish crowds.’
Magowan is more practical about the reasons for Coloursfest’s success, but just as enthused about its particular appeal. ‘We’ve got a great setting here,’ he says, ‘with enough space for all these DJs and an outdoor area with a view over the River Clyde. It just works really well.’ He also, let’s not forget, has a nation of clubbers for whom house and trance’s sun will not go down any time soon.
Coloursfest ‘08 takes over Braehead Arena, Glasgow, Sat 7 Jun.