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Dirty Disco...A Decade Of Friends, Music & Chaos

18 November 2015
Dirty Disco...A Decade Of Friends, Music & Chaos
In May 2005 three young lads brought together by a love of music, Ibiza and partying started one of Leeds’ greatest ever nights. Stuart Forsyth, Stuart Darwin and Peter Hall otherwise known as Foz, Stu and Lizard started The Dirty Disco at The Northern Light on Bank Holiday Sunday 1st May with Jon Carter, The Beat Monkeys, DAT Electronique (Dave Sandford & Tom Craven) along with Errol Brown, Dirty Youth Inc and Tango Flea. They just wanted to organise a party for 200 friends. When 1200 people turned up from all over the country for their first event they never imagined how much that night would change their lives.

Dirty Disco...A Decade of Music, Friends & Chaos Article - 4

A second event wasn’t ever planned but owner of The Northern Light Graham Hartley begged them to do another saying “The buzz of the 1st event was just so good we couldn’t say no.” They quickly put together a line-up for the next bank holiday with FC Kahuna, Howie B and Technique; a well-established night at the time ended up hosting their second room at only their second event, which attracted 1900 people. To say things happened quickly was an understatement. With the summer approaching and their experience of living in Ibiza they took the party to the ‘White Isle’ for a free event just as memorable for its punch as for the party!

Within six months the dirty disco had muscled into a heavy weight on the north of England’s clubbing scene. It was a destination night with people flocking from across the country (and sometimes beyond!) every month to the Northern Light.

Some key moments:

The 1st Saturday night - Mr C, Valentino Kanzyani, Tomas Andersson, Rex The Dog - 2005

Dirty Disco...A Decade of Music, Friends & Chaos

This night came along after Tomas Andersson’s track ‘Washing Up’ had just came out and the Tiga remix was one of the big tunes at Sonar 2005 and just about every DJ played it on this night with Tomas raving on the stage, loving life! Rex the Dog also had a big tune at the time called ‘Prototype’. We had a big love for the harder end of techno at Dirty Disco and had been big fans of Valentino Kanzyani, so when we managed to get him to come all the way from Slovenia we were very excited and I guess most of all we were very excited to meet the legendary Mr. C. He didn’t disappoint us, either: smashing it in Velvet Underground and entertaining us in the green room. It’s nice to say we’re still friends with him 10 years on.

The Get Physical party Booka Shade / M.A.N.D.Y. / DJ. T / Freq Nasty- 2005

This was the 2nd Saturday Dirty Disco did and probably the turning point in making Dirty Disco really famous. It was the 2nd Get Physical party to come to the UK after Fabric. The excitement around it was immense, Booka Shade live, M.A.N.D.Y. & the founder DJ.T coming to Leeds after being voted label of the year and having the biggest tunes of the summer with ‘Body Language’ and ‘Manderine Girl’. It was the start of the minimal craze and Dirty Disco embraced it. Booka Shade’s drum kit got lost in customs and we had to hire a brand new drum kit in on the day at 3pm and with the shops close to shutting, we managed to get one at the last minute. Booka Shade spent hours reprogramming the new drum kit to go on and play an epic live set and the night went down in history.

The 1st birthday with My Robot Friend / Trentemoller / Geddes - 2006

Every now and again we liked to throw in a curve ball and My Robot Friend was definitely one of them! After a release on Soma Records and reading a lot of reviews about his incredible live show in a retro-futuristic suit of his own construction, it included a 40-pound battery pack powering neon and LED lights that curled around the body and dotted his helmet, it was an impressive show and something people had never seen before. Especially when he brought 80-year-old rapper from New York “Bingo Ganzingo”. He had never left New York in his life and we thought it would be nice to fly him over and he was a huge character with a rap style no one had ever seen before. Check him out on YouTube We can’t let this night be overshadowed by the fact we had Trentemoller for the 1st time in Leeds. This was a huge booking after tracks like ‘Physical Fraction’ and ‘Polar Shift’ and he absolutely rocked the Northern Light. Geddes was the highlight downstairs with Mulletover becoming one of the hottest nights in London at the time. Great way to celebrate our 1st birthday.

Ibiza Pool Party – Caged Baby & Scarlett Etienne - 2006

The 3 of us that created Dirty Disco had all lived in Ibiza for a few years previously to starting the night so it was a no-brainer to go back and do parties over there every summer. We knew free parties would be the best thing for us and it attracted a huge gang of Leeds crew as well as local workers for a famous day at Kanya. Caged Baby & Scarlett Etienne came over to play, the drinks were flowing and we should probably leave this one at that!

Eric Prydz @ Northern Light - 2007

This is one of those nights that people always remind us about as the best night ever in the Northern Light. We were very cautious about booking Eric; ‘Call On Me’ had become huge and so it wasn’t necessarily a cool look for us when we were championing the minimal techno sound at the time but he had been blowing people away with sets at Bedrock and other places. The techno tracks he had made under his alter ego Cirez D were very popular with the Dirty Disco residents at the time. We went for it and his set was an incredible 2 hours of epic techno; he knew what we were about and he didn’t let us down. Also this night we had Audiofly, Zoo Brazil, Pig & Dan, Brendan Long and more!

The Very Very Wrong Indeed era - 2007

Some people get more excited talking about Very Wrong than they do Dirty Disco! We asked Tim Sheridan if we could run the Northern version of Very Very Wrong Indeed weekly after party in the bottom floor of the Northern Light, “Velvet Underground”. Nothing like this had been done in Leeds before and everyone loved it. The toilets were plastered with pornography, there would be people dressed as Captain America pushing people round in shopping trolleys, oversized bouncy castles blown up on the dance floor that got squashed on the low roof, Christmas trees covered in chicken wings. It was all a bit bizarre and it gave us a chance to put on DJs we couldn’t have at Dirty Disco. With Tim Sheridan at the controls this became one of the most epic nights in Leeds but some people don’t realise it only lasted about 3 months in the end!

The Raid - Oxia, Rob Da Bank, Altern 8, The Beat Monkeys - 2007

Dirty Disco...A Decade of Music, Friends & Chaos

The police had done some routine checks on about 5 or 6 clubs in Leeds in the few weeks previous to us and it seemed they were making their way round every club. With us being such a busy night in Leeds at the time we really hoped it wouldn’t happen to us but the inevitable did. It was really sad for us as it was our last ever night in the Northern Light which had become the most perfect home. Around 100 police came into the Northern Light according to the newspapers, when it happened there were about a thousand clubbers inside and a thousand in the queue outside. They asked us to ask everyone to leave on the mic, which didn’t go down very well obviously. The police said we were ok to continue 3 hours later…when it was empty. We got all the staff and DJs to text a “pass-it-on” message saying we were open, and it was free entry – the club suddenly started filling up again. We had bought 100 gas masks and boiler suits for the punters to wear because we had Altern 8 on. The Beat Monkeys’ first tune was KRS One – ‘Sound of the Police’. Oxia, Rob Da Bank and Max Sedgley all came back to play. It was front page of the Yorkshire Evening Post, Mixmag did a three-page article about it and it was even on TV. We were devastated and lost a lot of money from it. We had months of lineups booked in, so had to do loads of other venues in Leeds over the following years, none of which were bad nights or even quiet nights. We filled the Victoria Works with 3200 people on its opening day but as anyone will tell you it was never the same after the Northern Light. The night and the club was just the perfect combination. Cheers Graham.

Steve Lawler and Mobilee Records @ Mission - 2007

This was a big one. Mobilee Records was one of our favourite labels at the time. We’d already had Sebo and Anja play for us at the Northern Light, another label party UK debut. This time we had Steve Lawler, Anja Schneider, Sebo K, Pan Pot, Ralf Kollmann. It was packed to the rafters and music was unreal for our short-lived time at Mission.

Josh Wink in Garage - 2008

By this time we had become a travelling circus, moving from one venue to the next out of choice rather than being forced to. We loved the idea of doing pop up parties in different venues and this one was one of them. For the younger readers Mint Warehouse used to be Kerbcrawler, and before that it was a car garage. We’d heard about these guys putting on hard house parties in the upstairs room of this garage on the outskirts of Leeds City Centre. It was our 3rd birthday and we booked Josh Wink for the occasion. Unfortunately the owners hadn’t quite sorted out the license without telling us and the police turned up eventually. We were lucky enough that it had been a really good night. It feels nice to be coming back to Mint Warehouse for our 10th anniversary after being one of the 1st nights that was ever at the venue.

Gatecrasher Summer Sound System - 2008

We’d already hosted 2 festival arenas at Love Leeds with Back to Basics and Gatecrasher the previous years at Lotherton Hall but this one was just a whole different animal at the Turweston Aerodrome. With the likes of Prodigy, Chemical Brothers and a huge list of the biggest acts in the world it was a real privilege to be asked to host our own arena. They gave us a big budget to spend on acts and our arena held around 4000 people - and what a lineup we put together: Luciano was the star of the show and one of the most popular DJs in the world at the time. Dave Clarke was a DD favourite, Doppelwhipper was a DD anthem so it was nice to get Gabriel Ananda involved. The lineup speaks for itself and it was definitely one of our proudest moments:

The Dirty Disco Arena

Dave Clarke


Vitalic Live

Gabriel Ananda Live

Josh Wink

Ben Sims

Justin Robertson

Dan Ghenacia

Matthias Tanzman

Clive Henry

Death On The Balcony

Matt Cooper

Skin Deep

The First Victoria Works - 2008

When Victoria Works opened it was the first warehouse space of its size to come to Leeds. We were invited to do the second weekend it opened and it was the talk of the town. We had to get a lineup up together very last minute and we ended up with some really cool headliners, Tobi Nuemann and Ripperton. It didn’t matter who we had on though; 3200 people turned up, it was another incredible night and the residents smashed it - Matt Cooper standing out in the not so small room 2; another night that will go down in history in Leeds folklore.

Etienne De Crecy @ O2 Academy - 2010

Dirty Disco...A Decade of Music, Friends & Chaos

Etienne had started doing his “Beats & Cubes” show and there was only one place in Leeds to do something this big; the O2’s stage was totally full with the huge DJ box which consisted of a mighty cubic structure made of metallic tubes and screens; a six foot wide by twenty foot high geometric device which stood as a canvas for breath taking video projections. It was something nobody had seen before and it surprised even us when we sold out the massive O2 academy. Big visual shows like this are common at festivals and events these days but at the time it was very fresh and a very popular event!

Bastard Son of DD

We never liked the name Bastard Son of DD, we did a few successful parties under the name with the likes of Moodymann, Derrick Carter and also hosted Dyed Soundorom’s Leeds debut but we had to call it this name this out of necessity rather than choice. Due to long trademark issues after the infamous name “Dirty Disco” being bought without us knowing by a well know club we had to call it a day…

Until now; 5 years later and The Dirty Disco is back

The Return

So come and join us on Saturday 28th November, we’ve put together a very modern line up which is what we always went out to do every month when we started. We feel this lineup is where we would be if we had carried on and reflects everything that Dirty Disco is about but more importantly this night is about the crowd that come and party with us. It’s been nice to see people are coming from all over the country and even abroad so buzzed up to experience DD all over again and even more exciting to see how many younger people who never even came getting hyped about it. There is definitely huge anticipation round Leeds and the hysteria has been building for months.

As someone once said “people make places” and we have made some unbelievable weird and wonderful friends who were part of creating Dirty Disco. Thanks to you all for the memories. Let’s do it all over again.

Get yourself tickets for the return of Dirty Disco at Mint Warehouse here.

By Stuart Forsyth
Stuart 'Foz' Forsyth is a volunteer writer for Leeds Living; he is the promo and events manager for the Mint Club franchise