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Canvas Magazine - The Real New Rave

Fantazia Interview 2007

If you are still secretly into old rave music, but don’t belong at one of those ‘Old Skool’ nights full of chavs in miniskirts and baseball caps; your old friend Fantazia might have the perfect night out for you.

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If you were there in the good old days of rave, you’ll remember Fantazia, which means you’re a proper grown up by now. Raving all night with a sweaty crowd in a Milton Keynes leisure centre or a far flung warehouse is now just a fond memory, not the prospect of a night out.

You like your creature comforts, prefer proper drinks to a bottle of water all night (if you know what we mean) and really can’t be bothered to queue with a bunch of chavs and crusties who look half your age. James Perkins, who set up the original rave monster Fantazia, knows the feeling.

In case you are a chav half my age, Fantazia was one of the pioneers of giant raves, holding massive outdoor parties with several arenas dedicated to a whole new style of dance music from house to drum and bass. You could say the organisation made musical history; spreading dance music like wildfire through its events, DJ mix tapes and videos.

James set up the first Fantazia party in 1991 because he was fed up with badly organised nights out. Fantazia was designed to offer an experience that was beyond loud music and crazy dancing which offered a sense of escapism and a sensory feast. The organisation has the same ethos today.

A little more refined

Now a multi-millionaire in his mid-thirties, he’s way past the days of driving round in the dark looking for a muddy field with a big sound system in. In late November, he’s holding possibly the poshest ‘old school’ dance music night ever. Soho’s 24 in Kingly Court will host a night that has been billed as an ‘old school rave in luxury surroundings.’

James’ private raves are based in country manors instead of warehouses

The concept for taking rave into the realms of high-class clubbing isn’t new. James has based his on the decadent private Fantazia parties he has been having in his big stately homes for years. These legendary parties boasted all the big name Super DJs and hosted the dance music industry’s top names and talent. James describes these private raves as extravagant and classy affairs with people in fancy dress cavorting in the grounds of old manor houses.

Fantazia at 24 is a little exclusive, but not completely. There will be a lot of names and faces from the birth of dance music in attendance. You can book a table if you spend £800 pounds between you (not hard in 24) or you can pay £15 if you’re on the guest list. Yes it’s an all-nighter and they will be playing your favourites from the old days, but you won’t find glow sticks and you definitely won’t get in wearing dungarees and Reebok pumps; the dress code is strictly ‘smart, sophisticated and sexy.’

From its early successes, Fantazia is still a massive force in the clubbing world, still selling thousands of CDS and holding regular events with up to 10,000 attending.

It's not about the money

So, why the posh Soho venue? “It's the first time we've ever done a London gig.” James told us, “We're more mature than we used to be and the club reminded me of Pearl in Miami and the first ever World Music Conference. [People] still want hedonistic crowds but are older so want a grown up experience in terms of comfort. We're still up to date with music and put on a great show. This will be a smaller and more intimate adventure.”

Fantazia gave James Perkins the last laugh over the Criminal Justice Act

Fantazia was always renowned for its impressive visual shows, so the venue was the main inspiration for the party. “People still see us as pioneers of a groundbreaking social and musical experience and the visual side is what people still associate with us. We are the Cirque du Soleil of dance music. We've always tried to give people the best quality experience. From music to visuals - it's great to create something unusual and special. 24 is great for projections and in a league of its own so it's perfect for this venue.”

The night’s music policy is designed to give guests something familiar while educating them. The night's DJs are Fantazia resident Robbo and Leroy from the Prodigy, chosen to bring the old dance scene and the modern dance scene together.

Forget about whatever the emo kids are telling you is ‘nu rave’. Get yourself to Fantazia and remember; rave is a verb.

Fantazia www.fantaziamusic.co.uk Fantazia Club Classics is out now.


Liton Ali


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