Belfast Telegraph

Portrush club Lush! to celebrate 20th birthday with the Ulster Orchestra

By Ali Gordon

The promoter of iconic nightclub Lush! has told how he formed an unlikely alliance with the Ulster Orchestra.

The venue in Portrush’s Kellys Complex will mark its 20th anniversary by working with the musicians to bring clubbers the biggest dance anthems of the last two decades.

“To be honest we expected the Ulster Orchestra to turn us down flat because it’s not what they normally do but they were really up for it and have been really great to work with,” Lush! promoter Col Hamilton told Sunday Life.

“I didn’t really know how young the musicians in the Ulster Orchestra were. I thought they’d be much older, like in their 60s, but most of them are in their 20s studying at Queen’s and Coleraine. A lot of them have probably been to Lush! on a night out before as students.

“They were so excited to do the likes of Paul Van Dyke, just something a bit different than what they’re used to.”

Thousands of tickets have already been sold for Lush!’s 20 Years of Dance Music Classics at Belfast’s SSE Arena on October 15.


But founder Col admits an event like this is a dream turned reality for Lush! bosses.

“Since we announced it, the reaction has been amazing,” he said.

“Nobody really expected a night like this to happen in Northern Ireland so we’re really pleased with how it’s turned out.

“When we started it back in 1996 we thought we’d be lucky to get six months or a year out of it and we’d be doing well.

“If you’d said to us then that we’d still be here selling out nights 20 years later, I don’t think anyone would have believed it.”

Over the last 20 years, Lush! has welcomed many famous faces through its doors and Northern Ireland’s biggest dance club shows no sign of slowing down.

Curated by Dave Seaman and Steve Anderson and Col, clubbers at Lush!’s 20 Years of Dance Music Classics will be treated to all the club classics, but with a twist.

“We’re doing a few tunes from the last couple of years but it’s mainly the classic Lush! tunes from back in the day. We’ll have all the big ones that people can relate to from growing up,” he said.

“All my mates, who haven’t been to Lush! in about 10 years, are all going and there’s a lot of people who maybe went at the beginning that are going. I’d say the age range is more 25-50 but adults of all ages are welcome.

“My son’s 21 and he’s going with his friends with so there’ll be something for everyone.”

Col believes that having a nightclub in an alternative venue like Portrush than many DJs and clubbers are used to has played a big part in Lush!’s success.

“It’s a testament to the clubbers of Northern Ireland that people will still come the whole way to Portrush for a good night out,” said Col.


“When you see buses pulling in from Omagh, Enniskillen and Lisburn, it’s a great feeling knowing that people still want to travel. We still love it 20 years later.”

He added: “Hopefully people from all over the years will like what we’ve done come October.

“The soundtrack represents all the big tunes you’d have known over the years so it’ll be amazing to hear it all together.

“We’ve tried to cram 20 years into 90 minutes which is a bit of a handful so you’ll hear 30 second snippets of songs you know and hopefully everyone will put their hands up and cheer and then it’ll move onto the next one.

“It’s really interesting the way it comes together with the orchestra. We’re very proud of it.”

Tickets for Lush!’s 20 Years of Dance Music Classics at Belfast’s SSE Arena on October 15 are available via Ticketmaster.

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