DJ Rob da Bank: Too old to party hard on New Year's Eve, but too young for an early night...

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The Independent Online

There was a time when I absolutely loved New Year. I'd get excited, then I'd get trolleyed and then I'd arrive home some point in the middle of January. Being a 34-year-old dad now, things have taken on a bit of a different sheen. This year, I'm renting a house in Suffolk with some mates, but I'll be with the revellers in London in spirit because I've done some of the music for the fireworks on the Thames. I've made a party mix everything from the Clash and the Stones to the Specials. They're expecting 180,000 people and I think my stuff will be played between 10 and midnight, so it's quite an honour. Even though I'll be holed up in the countryside, I like the idea that I'll still get people dancing around.

I turned down a chance to DJ this New Year because the last time I did it was a disaster. I was playing at Sunday Best a few years ago when it hit midnight and I put on Dolly Parton's 9 to 5. Right at the crucial moment, the record stuck. The whole room started jeering at me. So I picked the record up and flung it into the crowd. The next day on the Sunday Best forum some irate guy was calling me every name under the sun. The record had hit his girlfriend in the face, given her concussion and they'd had to spend the night in Casualty.

I was about 18 when I first went clubbing in London. We went to a pub called the Cask and Glass, I was so new to the city it felt very exotic. Gilles Peterson and Norman Jay were DJing and at midnight someone let a champagne cork off and it exploded in this guy's eye. He screamed and ran past us clutching his bleeding face. We found it hilarious at the time but on reflection I don't suppose it was actually that funny.

Since then I've spent many a New Year's Eve abroad. When I was in my mid-20s, before it became really touristy, we went to Koh Phangan in Thailand. Thousands of people converged upon Hadd Rin beach for a rave. It was full of people who had gone there on holiday and never left. There were some dressed up as nurses dishing out diet pills which were the equivalent of taking speed. It was an amazing scene a huge stretch of beach with people on pills and magic mushroom milkshakes dancing to sound systems and throwing themselves into the sea. It was so fantastic we went two years running.

Another good one was the year we got a boat down the Mekong river to Luang Prabang in Laos. We were on an extremely long, thin speedboat which goes about 70 miles an hour. In Laos, as the sun rises on New Year's Day all the Buddhist monks file out of the monastery on the top of the hill and parade through town. To see them all walking in their robes through the first sun of New Year's Day is an amazing way to start the year.

A few years ago I went to Udaipur in India. You can pay a certain amount of money to stay in a fancy hotel as guests of the real-life maharaja. It was a brilliant collision of the Anglo/Indian thing with an appalling DJ blaring out trance music and Indian royals in their 60s bopping under a starlit sky. I got tipsy and went round handing out 20 tips to all the staff and then strolled home patting the holy cows on the way.

But despite that, I still think there's nothing like a good old-fashioned British knees up. In 1997 we did a New Year's party at Gossips a cheesy club in London. Everyone came in fancy dress and it was such a bonkers, hedonistic evening that that was when the kernel of an idea for Bestival [the annual Isle of Wight music festival] was born. A few years ago we had another legendary night in a pub called the Pigs Nose Inn in Devon. It's run by an ex-roadie who knows everyone in the music business and so there are always amazing people playing there The Good, The Bad & The Queen did a warm- up gig and Kate Bush and Robert Smith from the Cure live just down the road. It's a music lover's haven and absolutely mystical.

I think the best parties are just about really good music and fun. Bestival is the ultimate 24-hour hedonistic party without being hugely druggy. This year we're introducing another one called Camp Bestival. There's going to be a knitting tent, Morris dancers and bluecoats looking after people in a kind of Hi-De- Hi! way. It's me with my second kid on the way saying I still really love to party but these days there are other priorities.

Camp Bestival is at Lulworth Castle, Dorset, 18-20 July. Information at www.bestival.net

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