With Britain’s nightclubs in darkness, record labels are live-streaming events to music fans, attracting half a million views via social media over the Easter bank holiday. On Good Friday, the third Defected Virtual Festival runs from 2pm until 10.15pm and gets over 540,000 views.
One of the Mambo Brothers does a set on a balcony overlooking Ibiza’s San Antonio, as the sun sets to the mellow tune of ‘It’s You’. This inspires listeners to make their gardens look like miniature versions of the Island’s top nightspot, Café Mambo. Fans listening to the show tweet pictures of their back yards that have had an Ibizan makeover; some have inflatable pools, others have cocktails and big speakers.
The dance music duo Black Motion drum and mix tunes, live from South Africa. The duo has the rhythmic power of a samba band and the spiralling flexibility of a jazz band, creating a trance with a subcurrent of euphoria.
The event attracts major talent. Dave Penn opens, playing keyboards to carnival-inspiring tunes live from his house in Spain. Other highlights include global sensations Roger Sanchez and Calvin Harris, who perform 2 out of the 7 DJ sets, which each last just over an hour. Sanchez raises the tempo with classics like Tori Amos’ ‘Professional Widow’, using four decks to mix impeccable tunes live from his house in Miami.
Simon Dunmore, the founder of Defected and organiser of the event, uses the festival to show that music is about more than dancing. During the sets, messages flash up on the screen reminding viewers to stay at home whilst donations are collected for the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund. The global event draws viewers from across the world and a supportive community is forged online through the live comment sections on social media.
A surge in American viewers shows up during Mike Dunn’s live set from Chicago. Dunn’s smooth set contains lyrics that cast a compelling spell of surreal storytelling. A pre-recorded set from DJ Claptone, performed in Croatia in 2018, is also included. This has a spectacular light show that makes up for the footage not being live.
The festival opens with a poem that starts, ‘One day we will recall what song was on when the world stopped, when the doors were locked’. My pick is the blissful ‘Two Left Feet’, played during David Penn’s set. The event closes with an upbeat set from Radio DJ Sam Divine, who edits a Whitney Houston song that sums up the mood of the festival: ‘I want to dance with somebody’.
Although this festival was streamed live on April 10th the show is online for all to enjoy for free on the Defected Records YouTube channel or on SoundCloud. Until we can all be where we are supposed to be, we can at least share the moment with virtual clubbers who are checking in from all over the globe. We can keep dancing, not least to the lyrics in the song ‘Joy, Joy’ in Black Motion’s set: ‘Joy, joy, that is how you make me feel’.