The Heavenly Social is back

Ahead of his one-off set to celebrate the club night's 20th birthday, Fatboy Slim shares his fond memories of Heavenly Social

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Photo: Hamish Brown

Heavenly Social way back then...


It was hardly a revolutionary idea – rent a small room below a pub (the Albany on Great Portland Street), book some DJs and have a party. Preferably to songs that never ever get played in clubs.

That was the plan when indie label Heavenly started their first Heavenly Social Sunday bashes back in 1994. So why is it constantly credited with changing club culture? Look no further than its residents, the Chemical Brothers (then known as the Dust Brothers). The night was a showcase for their throw-it-at-the wall mixing style: a dab of Beatles psychedelia, a chunk of acid, all peppered with hip hop breaks and the coruscating sonics of shoegaze. Fellow DJs like Fatboy Slim, Andrew Weatherall and David Holmes soon joined the socialist revolution.

In 2014, it may be passé to mix things up so furiously. But just like now, glossy house music dominated clubland and was on the verge of going stale. The Heavenly Social mercifully changed the game. Not bad for a party in a pub.

Heavenly Social today


After outgrowing the Albany and moving to Turnmills in Farringdon, the Heavenly team opened their own venue – The Social – on Little Portland Street. This is where the night is currently being revived every Friday.

Though the Heavenly Social came to be seen as the birthplace of big beat, this revival isn’t just an excuse to bang out the classics. Its intentions are still to host an early evening party that’s free for members (just sign up at www.thesocial.com) with an anything-goes musical policy. Guests to grace the decks in the next few weeks range from kinky-disco legend Hannah Holland, Raf Daddy from The 2 Bears right through to Scritti Politti’s Green Gartside. And of course, a certain Mr Fatboy Slim...

Fatboy Slim recalls the Heavenly Social heyday


Describe the Heavenly Social for those that never made it down?
‘It was a refuge of the disenchanted and the dispossessed – a bunch of square pegs who found a common hole. Superclubs and high street house music had become a bit stale and we needed a new clubhouse for a new gang. Lots of rules were broken, both musically and behaviour-wise.’

Tell me about the first time you ever went?
‘My dear old friend Lindy Layton [vocalist on ‘Dub Be Good to Me’] phoned me and said “You’ve got to go to this club in London where they play that breakbeat-acid-hip hop mix like you do.” I walked in and the Chemical Brothers were playing one of my tunes. They hugged me and I got a gig the following week. It was like meeting a long-lost family you didn’t know existed!’

Which tune do you associate with the club?
The Crystal Method’s “Get Busy Child” will forever remind me of those days.’

Fatboy Slim DJs at the Heavenly Social on Fri Feb 21


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