Classic Coach back to basics
Banbridge nightclub returns to roots with special showcase of resident DJs. Patric Baird reports
The Coach in Banbridge is one of Ireland's longest-running nightclubs and has been a mecca for local clubbers since the 1970s, having seen many musical trends emerge and fade from glam rock, disco and new romance, to acid house, techno and trance.
They've had their fair share of visiting guest DJs throughout the years as well, although it's easy to overlook the all-important factor which ensures the club's success on a weekly basis - the resident DJs.
To celebrate these largely unsung heroes, the Coach has decided to go back to basics and is showcasing their team of long-serving residents over the coming weeks, proving to clubbers that you don't always need the glitz and glam of a big name behind the decks.
One of Northern Ireland's longest-serving club DJs, Mark Wesley, has been resident at the Coach since 1989, just when the embryonic dance-music scene was beginning to take hold in Ulster.
As a result of his long service, Mark has acquired not only one of the best collections of dance records in the country, he has built up an instinctive feel for how a dancefloor 'works'.
Mark's fellow resident Barry McConkey, a relative newcomer who has been a fixture at the Co Down funhouse since 1996, helped shape the club's reputation for quality tunes and cracking atmosphere alongside former resident and superstar she-J, Mandy Reid.
Mark gets the night off tomorrow, although Barry's on hand to oversee a one-off appearance by Goodgreef's Fred Baker who, despite his name, is actually Belgian and is one of the finest exponents of trance music around today.
In 1997, Frederic De Backer, his real name, produced the monster hit Groovezone - Eisbaer which was played to death by DJs worldwide, including Graham Gold, Paul Oakenfold, Pete Tong, Ferry Corsten and Seb Fontaine.
Fred has now become such a big name in the electronic-music scene, he's had tracks signed with Tiesto's Magik Muzik, Paul Van Dyk's Vandit and Armin Van Buuren's Armada, although his recent tune Forever Friends was released on his own label, Bakerstreet.
Also appearing is local lad Greg Downey who cut his musical teeth at venues including the Coach and Belfast's Network, before moving to England, where he is currently being hailed by industry bigwigs as the next big thing in trance music for 2007.
ZZ Another of our long-serving local DJs, Mal Black is back behind the decks at a brand new residency tomorrow night at ME2, in McElroy's Bar, Omagh.
It's a post he held between 1998 and 2001, before heading off to work on other projects, including a residency at Armagh's Met Arena, setting up a studio with partner Mandy Reid and establishing himself as one of Ulster's top producers.
He's mixed tunes for artists including Boy George, Marc Almond, Loverush UK and indie band Apartment and he's had his tracks included on various compilations, as well as plays by the likes of Fatboy Slim and Paul Van Dyk.
ME2 is also operating a back to basics policy where the music, focusing on house and electronica, will hopefully speak for itself and the modern surroundings and vibrant club decor will provide mid-Ulster's party people with something a bit special for Saturday nights.
ZZ On Thursday, Belfast alternative night Radio K is upping sticks from its home at McHugh's Bar and making the often-hazardous journey over the Glenshane Pass to show off some of their club culture to the good people of Londonderry.
Sandino's Bar will be hosting the feast of indie, soul, hip-hop, rock and electro with K residents Joe Greene and Martin Corrigan manning the decks.