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London clubbers can be a fickle bunch. But there’s no sign we are ready to end our ten-year love affair with Ultimate Power – the club night that plays power ballads in full. Strictly no edits.
Five mates launched Ultimate Power a decade ago. The premise was simply to play their favourite tunes. To their surprise, they packed out venues: turns out most of us find the bombastic posturing, sing-along choruses, epic chord changes and slightly stalkerish dedication to ‘true love’ of power ballads simply irresistible.
‘The music was never in fashion so it was never in danger of being out of fashion,’ reckons co-founder Steve Proud. ‘And it’s not po-faced, we never meant it to be ironic and we never take the piss out of the songs.’ To celebrate consistently turning the cheese dial up to 11, Ultimate Power is returning to its old haunt, The Monarch in Camden, each weekend in September before ending its celebrations with a big birthday party at The Electric Ballroom on September 30. ‘London has embraced us because Londoners have this approach of fuck it, I just wanna have fun,’ he says. ‘We wanted to be the Ronseal of the clubbing world – it does exactly what it says on the tin. No brainer.’
It’s been ten years of extraordinary memories: DJing on top of a caravan in Hackney Marshes, playing Phil Collins behind Dippy the diplodocus in the Natural History Museum, winning over metalheads at Download Festival and entertaining a bunch of teenagers celebrating their GCSE results at Reading. ‘Though one of the most fun times is when you see a couple of people at the back with screwfaces,’ says Steve. ‘You can guarantee they’ll be the last ones standing.’
And now they can claim that ultimate boast – an Ultimate Power baby. Two strangers met at one of their nights, fell for each other’s sexy air guitar skills, married and now have a baby. ‘When you have a club night playing nothing but songs of heartbreak and redemption it’s not that surprising that you end up with a few marriages and babies.’
‘It’s not a generic ’80s or ’90s night,’ co-founder Dave Fawbert points out. ‘It’s got to be powerful and it has to go on a dynamic journey – only then is it a power ballad.’ They are still unabashedly in love with these songs and, after ten years, know each note, drum fill and intake of breath. Each DJ will rarely mix out of a song, preferring to not only play the longest version available, but also savour each one to the fade out. ‘It’s almost the purest form of DJing, like a reggae selector,’ says Steve. ‘You can’t mix them; it’s like saying you believe in this song to play it from start to finish. That’s proper DJing, choosing the right songs at the right time.’