This time last year, Christmas and New Year celebrations were somewhat more muted than now. Lockdown restrictions across many countries prevented most regular events at this time of year from going ahead. And although things are slightly different this year, we’re not exactly back to the heady days of the 1990s.
The big name DJs of the late 90s were a seriously greedy bunch – and nothing exemplified this more than New Year’s Eve 1999. And given it’s not every year you get to celebrate the start of a brand new millennium, New Year’s Eve was going to be a big one. It’s a subject which gets a number of DJs from that era quite embarrassed.
Carl Cox, for example, travelled to Sydney to welcome in the year 2000, then went to Hawaii, where it was still 1999 to welcome 2000 in again. He was reportedly paid a significant six-figure sum for the two shows. Sasha supposedly got £150k out of one night’s work. And Fatboy Slim got £140k – but to be fair to him, he did four gigs for that money.
Which is why this story by Judge Jules on his New Year’s Eve piqued my interest. For instance, he mentions “The Millennium NYE was marketed as being a once in a lifetime night, when in truth it was no different to any other New Year’s Eve. Ticket prices were inflated to five or ten times the normal NYE price, and as a result many shows failed to sell.”.
Curiously, he doesn’t mention one of the reasons why ticket prices for that night were so high. Namely, the greed of DJs like himself. How much money he made on NYE 1999 is something he omits to tell us, although a source who’s been in the scene far longer than he’d like to admit tells me it was £100,000.
However, an incident on the night threatened to scupper the whole thing. Jules was playing at the Don Valley athletics stadium in Sheffield to 25,000 people. And all was going well “until mid-way through the night, when somebody decided to climb to the top of the 20 metre main vertical pillar that was keeping up the tent.”
“What was meant to be a great night suddenly turned into a bit of a nightmare. The safety of an inebriated reveller at the top of this pole was obviously a big concern for all involved, and particularly South Yorkshire Police who shut the music down. Not unsurprisingly, the crowd began to boo, and rather than welcoming in the New Year we were facing the possibility of finishing early.”
“I made my way from the DJ booth to one of the sound pits at the other side of the venue, found a radio mic and began geeing up the crowd and encouraging them to persuade this person down from the pole. A responsible act, or so I thought. It was then that I heard a second mic over the PA, this time directed at me. ‘JUDGE JULES, CAN YOU PLEASE STOP TALKING. THIS IS SOUTH YORKSHIRE POLICE!’.”
And he did. Police soon persuaded the man to climb back down and the party resumed. Although apparently “one of the other DJs punched him for ruining such a significant gig”.
Probably best left to the authorities…