IN the 1990s big name DJs Sasha, Fatboy Slim, Judge Jules and Pete Tong exploded out of acid house and became international jetsetters, flying all over the world just to play for a few hours and commanding huge fees.

The plush, heavily branded super clubs where they performed – Cream, Renaissance and Gatecrasher – were filled with thousands of adoring clubbers, roaring their approval of their DJ gods.

But underneath the shiny surface lurked a darker side, a world of cynical money-making, rampant egos and self-indulgence that eventually spiralled out of control leaving burnt-out DJs, jobless promoters and a host of bittersweet memories.

Paul Taylor was in the eye of the storm when the acid house revolution hit, and was the mastermind of the legendary Retro at Angels nightclub in Burnley.

“Dance music has lost its soul,” said Taylor, who celebrates 25 years of Retro with a Halloween special at Whalley’s Rendezvous nightclub tomorrow.

“The raw energy and great warmth of that early era of house music has gone.

“There’s just too many genres of house music now and some of the so-called big DJs have lost the plot.” Taylor says the Retro sessions at the now demolished Angels club represented the best days of his life.

“It doesn’t matter where you go, you cannot re-live what we had there.

“It was indescribable,” he adds.

“There was this amazing vibe to it which could only be created because of the incredible music that was going down and the crowd – who were my friends – made the atmosphere.

“Angels, I reckon, was as influential as The Hacienda in Manchester.

“None of the music press wanted to write about an old mill town in Lancashire, but people came from Ireland, Scotland, and London just to be at Angels.

“It was Burnley’s biggest attraction – the town was the hub of dance music.

“Sadly, there’s not a club in Burnley I’d play now.”
Carl Cox, Pete Tong, Tall Paul and Boy George all played Saturday nights for Taylor at the Burnley venue, but Taylor – whose mighty Retro sessions still kick up a storm wherever he spins the decks – ignited the spark with his vinyl wizardry. 

“One of my big mates is Stewart Downing, who plays for West Ham United.

“Stewart has done the odd guest DJ slot at Retro and he says dropping a massive tune to an audience of a few thousand is better than scoring a winning goal at Wembley. How good is that? I think that’s awesome.”
Taylor was also part of the dance act Loveland who enjoyed four top twenty hits, teaming up with Aussie songstress Kylie Minogue for one of them.

“Things have changed so much. I never thought that the CD could take over from vinyl and now it is all downloads and laptops on the decks.

“Looking at a DJ with a piece of vinyl in his hand looks right, a DJ with a computer mouse doesn’t.

“I can’t believe that some of them pick their sets and load them into their computers before they get to a club.

“How on earth do you know who is coming to the show and what the vibe will be?

“Good DJs just rip it up. My favourite DJ is an Italian guy called Joe T Vannelli, and Roger Sanchez, who completely blew me away.

“A lot of it is very instinctive, and I’m very proud of the way Retro has survived and prospered to become the longest running dance event in Britain.”

  • Paul Taylor: Retro, plus Dean Green and Ben Taylor. 10pm to 4am. Rendezvous, Whalley. 07875 121057. October 31. Tickets £10 advance.