Culture vultures and the chattering classes have been full of blah about the reopening of the Ulster Hall — now clubbers can join in the fun too! Rave on, says Patric Baird
The newly-opened Ulster Hall is due for a baptism of fire tomorrow night as chart-topping dance brand Clubland touches down for the local leg of its current UK tour.
The Ulster Hall is, of course, no stranger to hosting major dance events alongside the more highbrow offerings on its calendar, its heyday having been around the turn of the Nineties when some of Belfast's biggest ever ‘rave' events such as Soul '89 took place within its venerable portals.
So, 20 years on, the songs remain (more or less) the same, as some of the world's biggest names in house and trance take to the stage for a series of live performances, including headliner Alex K.
Alex is best known for introducing the sound of ‘bounce', a high-energy trance sub-genre, to the UK and he'll be performing some of the tracks from his brand new compilation album, Ultimate NRG 4.
Also performing live will be Kelly Llorenna, the Mancunian dance diva who supplied the vocals on N-Trance's 1995 Top 5 dance anthem, Set You Free, as well as subsequently charting with Force & Styles and as a solo performer.
She also recorded with Flip & Fill who, coincidentally, will also be performing live with Karen Parry on vocal duties, while N-Force will also be doing a live set, along with MC Junior who will be keeping the crowd entertained throughout the night.
DJs include chart-bothering Scouse house act Ultrabeat and Belfast's own clubland hero Micky Modelle. The show runs between 7-11pm and tickets costing £22.50 or £27.50 (balcony) are available from www.ticketmaster.ie
Another legendary hang-out steeped in the history of Belfast's dance culture is the Art College, best known for its back-in-the-day rave-ups Sugar Sweet and Base, and still going strong as a destination for local clubbers.
Tomorrow night, club night Bodyshock makes a welcome return with veteran Dutch producer and DJ Misjah topping the bill with an eclectic set of house, techno and electro at the Cathedral Quarter venue.
His recording career launched in 1991, around the same time it was all kicking off at the Art College, with old-skool hardcore releases including the classics Masterplan and The Future, recorded under the alias Dyewitness.
He then launched X-Trax Records, releasing tracks by big-name artists including Umek, Ferry Corsten and Piet Bervoets, as well as his own tracks including the dance classic Access, which reached the UK Top 20 in 1996.
He began to DJ in 1994 and has played at worldwide clubs and festivals, including Roskilde and Dance Valley, while continuing to record and remix, as well as hosting his monthly podcast, Misjah In The Mix.
Tonight, if you tune into BBC Radio 1's Judge Jules Show, you'll hear the man himself broadcasting his trademark big-room tunes live from the Beeb in Belfast.
After the show, he's heading round to La Lea where Love Fridays have temporarily set up shop away from their regular home at The Odyssey to host the official aftershow party, featuring Jules and a few pals on the decks.
German trance masters Cosmic Gate will be warming up the crowds alongside hard-dance prodigy Kidd Kaos, while Planetlove's DJ Mog, who has just released his first single called Searching, plays the support slot. Doors 9pm- 3am and tickets cost £15.
Homegrown hero DJ Fergie is back in Belfast tomorrow night, playing a set alongside residents Psycatron at Stiff Kitten while at the same venue on Monday, Germany's Loco Dice makes his Northern Irish DJ debut at a special St Patrick's Eve show.