London’s legendary polysexual party, Horse Meat Disco, is taking over a capsule on the London Eye for Red Bull Revolutions in Sound on Thursday. Kate Hutchinson learns from them how to start a party in the clouds...
Ahead of their appearance alongside Skream & Benga, Metalheadz and Andrew Weatherall on Thursday, James Hillard – one quarter of the cuddly bear crew with Jim Stanton, Luke Howard and Severino – chats to us and explains how, among other things, the club night has revolutionised gay clubbing in the capital.
What can listeners expect from your Revolutions in Sound pod?
It’s not going to be a peak-time jump-up-and-down disco rave. It’ll be more of a two-step soul, rare groove and sleaze kind of affair – something to shuffle to rather than stomp your feet to. It’ll be uplifting, reflective and damn funky. I’m not great with heights, so the less jumping about the better.
How will you recreate the Horse Meat Disco vibe in a capsule in the clouds?
Unless we fill the pod with poppers and smoke, which I’m pretty sure goes against health and safety regulations, I’m not sure that’s going to be possible. I don’t think we should try and recreate Horse Meat Disco. It’s a chance to play some different music and create something very different to what we do in a south London boozer on a Sunday night. But we’ll aim to make it as fun as possible. After all, it’s still a party.
Are you going to 'Londonify' what you play to suit the setting?
We’ll certainly try. I was talking to Luke about that the other day. It’s not as easy as it might sound. If we were in New York there would be no shortage of songs we could play that would big up the city. There must be more songs about New York than any other city in the world, but we’ll endeavour to trawl through the depths of our collections to find some interesting London records. Theme-wise, we were thinking more about the idea of being up in the air and being in a city. I’m going to have to start digging out some suitable records. I love a good theme.
What's the ultimate London disco song then?
A few spring to mind, although they’re not really disco records, just great records. I live in Brixton and when I have people come to stay, I always point out Electric Avenue. Everyone knows it from the Eddy Grant record. The other is one that’s not specifically about London, but it is by a London-based group – Southern Freeez by Freeez. On more of a jazz-funk tip, you’ve got London Town by Beggar and Co.
If you could be in any other pod for the evening, whose would you go for?
Andrew Weatherall’s, definitely. I'd always want to go and listen to him. He’d pick the right music for the mood and you’d be guaranteed to hear some amazing records while soaring over London.
You’re celebrating eight years of Horse Meat Disco this weekend – what’s changed over the years?
It’s probably time to start lying about our age! But it’s been an incredible eight years. We’ve seen some legends play at the club and although regulars come and go there is always a sense of family and communion every Sunday night. It’s important to maintain that consistency, but with that you have to throw a curveball every now and again and give something back to people who call the club home.
How have you kept the club and its soundtrack fresh?
All of us are always on the hunt for new records, whether contemporary or newly discovered old records. After a certain time, any club can become complacent with its music policy, but we strive to do something different. Sure, we have the Horse Meat Disco classics that everyone wants to hear, but it’s fun for both the DJs and punters to get something different every time. That comes from the guests we book; it was always quite rare on the London gay scene to book ‘outside DJs’, but it was essential in taking the Horse Meat name to the wider world. Their word-of-mouth experience of the club is the reason you see us on line ups from Australia to Japan, Europe to the US.
How has it helped revolutionise gay clubbing in London?
The biggest thing we did was to bring the fun back. It always was and will always be the queer party for everyone – and, looking back, that was quite revolutionary at the time. Most gay clubs were for gays and didn’t take kindly to straight people being there, but we were adamant from the start that a club can be both queer and mixed without losing its gay identity. Wasn’t the whole point of gay liberation to be equal? If straight people get it and want to be part of it, then that’s great.
Horse Meat Disco will be hosting a pod at Red Bull Revolutions in Sound at the London Eye on Thursday. To listen to their set and all of the others from the event, tune into redbull.co.uk from 7pm.