The initial promoters of “The Sunday Afternoon Brunch Club at Dingwalls”, later known as Talkin’ Loud & Saying Somethin’, was Radio London. Gilles had the last show on Tuesday night before the station went over to Radio 2 and they asked him to organise a weekly session. A sort of chill out mellow Jazzy afternoon at the end of a hectic weekend .......
Dingwalls was the venue and although had had success a decade before with live rock acts, in the 80’s become a naff dodgy pop venue, which very few people visited, so always a bit risky! Gilles had asked Bob Jones & Kevin Beadle to join him behind the decks and so it began. The boys behind the stage in this DJ Cage! And me on Camden Lock Bridge doing my fisher-wife bit and dragging people in literally.
It was a weird one, as quite quickly we were getting 200 people in and the dancers from the Wag and Electric ballroom just loved the space. It was also dark and dirty & you could dance your socks off without making a fool of yourself. So great combo really. An added bonus was that in the days of early Sunday closing, with some grey area shenanigans, people could buy a round of drinks for a plate of chips!
When Radio London were told to pull out of all external gigs, Dingwalls was bringing in just enough people for Gilles to keep it going independently and we also got a new Venue manager, Joe Strong. He was in absolute shock when he experienced his first Sunday afternoon, especially as he had sat in an empty club every night prior to our session. Joe then vowed he would make every night like Sunday and so was the start of the individual promoters specialising in the club scene at Dingwalls. Around this time Gilles had started playing along side a Kiss Fm DJ called Patrick Forge at a gig in Heaven (Charing Cross) called Babylon on a Thursday night. Not too long after this Gilles invited Patrick to join him at Dingwalls.
Although we were DJ dance floor orientated, there were some seriously talented musicians around, and very few venues that were willing to give them a go. Gilles always the visionary realised that Dingwalls was a perfect place for showcasing all this talent & so over the next 4 ½ years, bands like Snowboy, Steve Williamson, Marie Murphy, Cleveland Watkiss, Incognito, Philip Bent, Ed Jones, Rowland Sutherland, Byron Wallen, Mark Murphy, Jalal – last poets, Dave Valentine, Galliano, Mongo Santamaria, Roy Ayers, and so many more would be playing this mad dark space on a Sunday in the middle of Camden Market.
The biggest nightmare for the DJ’s in the early days was the positioning of the DJ Box. It was behind the stage, with a dirty Perspex window and metal grill, and the only entrance was from a small room behind the stage. Not what you call user friendly and so after loads of moaning about the “cage”, Joe Strong finally managed to get some money together and had a new DJ/sound/lighting platform built between the stage and the bar. This was a massive improvement for Gilles & Patrick and the fact that we could also control a few dance floor lights meant that we could also achieve the occasional total black out before a big tune. A feature that has been a part of our nights ever since.
Talkin’ Loud and Saying Somethin’ which would nearly always be referred to as Dingwalls, was like this huge bubble of inspiration for so many, from the record sellers in the foyer, the artists that performed to the future promoters that used to come & take notes, but ultimately the most important element of Dingwalls apart of course from the amazing tunes that Gilles & Patrick were dropping week after week, were and still is the people. The connection between the boys behind the decks and the people on the dance floor was tangible, it was/is a living breathing physical thing & for me the reason why it is still such a magical gig.
An example of the passion that Dingwalls invoked, was at the end of the afternoon we would stagger out from this black cavern into bright daylight and this incredibly bustling busy Market. We always had to park miles away & it used to take us ages to walk to our cars, but it never stopped numerous Dingwallers from coming with us. Gilles & Patrick would be carrying these ridiculously huge and heavy record boxes and they would have to answer question after question on tune names or why a certain track had been dropped when it had. The obsessive desperation, the passion, god I loved it.
When the “reunion” happened in 2007, it was because a little record label influenced by the legendary Dingwalls status, wanted to put out a record reflecting all that was good. What it did was make Gilles, myself and Patrick realise that it was time for a second helping of Dingwalls. Yes it was a different space, yes you should never go back, especially on something that was so special. But experiencing the incredible energy and the feeling of amazement amongst people of old alongside people that quite frankly would have been children at the original, was just too hard to resist. After that first session in 2007, I don’t call them reunions , I call them Parties because they are, bloody fantastic parties, where everyone is on the same tip, where everyone is smiling, where happiness is leaking from every sweaty pore. That is why it is still SPECIAL. Yes it’s a bit evangelical but then Dingwalls was and still is the only religion that I’ve ever preached. See you all on the dance floor my friends.