Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Summer Ball Season

Summer Ball Season is nearing it's end for another year, during which I visit many different Universities around the country for their end of year parties with Headphone Disco.  This is a busy and exciting time of year for me, accompanied by a packed out summer of festivals. These University events vary in size and budget, from smaller scale events with a modest line-up, to a huge productions with big names on the bill. 

Headphone Disco is popular at events all over the World, especially at student based events including Students' Union venues and student summer balls. If you don't know what it's all about, imagine a room full of party people, each wearing a pair of headphones, on which they can choose between two DJs battling it out simultaneously over two wireless channels. It's loads of fun to go to one and I have a great time performing too!

This year marked my third visit to Bath Spa University, where there's always a lively party crowd. When I first went in the outdoor marquee I'd be working in for the night, I was greeted by a large gentleman in a skimpy leopard print onesie on the stage, doing rock covers. It was actually quite entertaining, but it certainly came as a surprise!

Bath Spa Ball funny entertainment...

Essex Uni is always a busy show and although it's a very late night/early morning, it's lovely to see the sun come up over Wivenhoe Park, in the grounds of the Uni where the ball takes place. The photo below was taken at around 4.30am, with no filter. What a stunning and eerie looking sky! Travelling around the country doing these shows often means I get to visit friends en route too, so it was lovely to see Charlie and Dom in Watford on the way back from Essex.

Beautiful sunrise in Essex

It was great to be reunited with my good chum Stefan for the Birmingham Guild of Students Grad Ball. This was a Discovision show, where we mix videos on two big screens on either side of the stage, as well as playing all the usual singalong tunes to get people singing and dancing. The stage set up here was particularly good and the marquee we were in was just the right size to get a great atmosphere going as soon as a few people started piling in.

Reunited with Stefanwolf

 Disco Josh and Stefanwolf doing a Discovision show at Birmingham Guild of Students Grad Ball

Each year I perform at many different Oxford and Cambridge College Balls, which are always very grand and impressive events. Many of the different colleges from each University host their own ball, which take place at each college generally every two to three years. Food and drinks, along with a great variety of entertainment is included in the ticket price for these balls, with tickets varying in price from anything from around £60 and up to as much as £200 being the highest ticket price I've seen.

5.30am in Cambridge: A man is making giant bubbles 
and a lady is trying to pop them with a plastic sword

At one recent show I was delighted to discover that Laura Mvula was performing on the main stage before we were due to perform. My girlfriend's parents are fans of her music and have seen her live a few times, including supporting Prince on his recent tour. I was instantly very impressed with her fantastic voice and stage presence, along with her band which was made up of a cellist, harpist and lots of other lovely instruments. Their sound was incredible and it worked so well in what was a fairly small main stage tent at this ball. I've since bought her album, which was Mercury Prize Award nominated in 2013. 

This same ball was also host to A.Skillz, who is a brilliant mashup DJ. He did an awesome set and it was great to chat to him [and have a cheesy photo with him] after his set backstage.

 Laura Mvula in Oxford

A.Skillz and J.Skillz

The historic colleges that these balls are held in often create an impressive backdrop to the events, as you can see in the photo below. It's lovely to walk around the grounds and discover various stages dotted around, along with lovely installations and food vendors, including vintage ice cream and popcorn stalls. After performing at and organising many other Uni and college shows over the past few weeks, I'll now focus my attention on the many music festivals we'll be bringing our awesome show to this summer!

An Oxford College campus providing a lovely backdrop to an end of year ball

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