After Dark: All the world's his stage
Saturday 08 August 1998
After transmitting his Sunday show live (via ISDN links) from San Antonio's beachfront bar Cafi Mambo, Judge Jules doesn't seem to be missing the concrete charms of Radio 1's London studios too much - Ibiza is quite literally home from home. "I own a place with [fellow DJ] John Kelly," he says. Club DJs are not usually associated with a cup of cocoa then bed before 10.30pm, but anyone hoping to associate Jules with DJ stereotypes is set for disappointment.
"Basically, it's a refuge for our families as opposed to some kind of den of debauchery."
Judge Jules (above) began his career organising illegal raves over a decade ago. Londoners connected with his personal brand of deep funky house in nightclubs and on Kiss FM. When the Beeb extended a job offer a year ago, he left Kiss to join Radio 1.
"It wasn't really a hard decision - any DJ who says they don't want to work on a national stage is basically a liar.
"With around 30 hours of dance music a week, they [Radio 1] have a wholehearted belief in the importance of dance music, and that's why they're here."
His move to Radio 1 was part of a sustained drive to recruit the best club DJs from around the country. The station has effectively become the Chelsea FC of the broadcasting world, buying up the best players in the game, leaving opposition teams to wither in comparison.
With two shows a week and a growing army of listeners, Judge Jules is a Premiership player. What isn't so widely known is that he could easily write a PhD thesis on "the social ramifications of club culture on a youthful generation of revellers unrestrained by traditional post-war social convention."
"In life, as in art and music, everything is evolution and not revolution," he says. "Modern dance music cannot be compared to previous youth movements like punk and new romanticism.
"Those underground movements were part of a youthful, post-war backlash against the stiff upper-lip British culture that blew up before joining the mainstream.
"Modern dance music is a reflection of British people's outgoing nature. Young people want to go out and have a good time, and noone's going to stop them."
We may be in the clubbers' Mecca, but when we speak, Jules is set to headline Manumission in a few hours' time. I expect concise answers so he can make a quick escape.
Instead, he replies with equal measures of candour and consideration. Clearly viewing dance music as a vehicle for a generation to express itself, he believes it's here to stay.
"Some closet weirdos DJ without being part of the generation or the wider dance movement. It's like preaching a religion to an audience with totally separate beliefs.
"I'm a clubber who's lucky enough to be a DJ. Any success has been a combination of luck, good ears, and not being a social cripple."
A future career in television appeals to him; it would enable him to communicate on a different level. But, at present, the pull of clubs remains as strong as ever.
"I'll hang up my headphones when I feel physically or mentally out of touch with the people I'm performing to." He doesn't hesitate to conclude: "There are no signs of either occurring at the moment."
Judge Jules appears on Radio 1 on Sat 5-7pm and Fri 8.30-10.30pm
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