Pete Tong's essential travel selection

He's played all the top clubs around the globe. And he's got the party started in some fabulous destinations. So where does top international DJ Pete Tong like to spin the decks? Interview by Jenny Cockle
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The Independent Travel

The whole clubbing scene started in New York with hip-hop and electro sounds. Much of the early influence came from the gay scene and Studio 54 - a place I never went to because unfortunately I was too young. I first went to New York in the late 1970s, to a club called Paradise Garage. The London club scene followed in the mid-1980s and now - 25 years later - it's global. Through the internet and the way people connect with each other now, you can play in places such as Eastern Europe, Russia, Asia, South America and Australia, and everyone can be pretty much on the same record. Because of the internet the world has got a lot smaller, in a clubbing sense.

As an entertainer or artist, you're always going to be popular in the summer season - that's exactly the time when everyone wants DJs. I'm currently in Australia, at Bronte Beach, which is next to Bondi. New Year and January is the peak of their summer season, so that's when they're most likely to get international DJs visiting. Though to suggest that Australia is a seasonal place to play wouldn't be true - this is one place where the club scene goes on all year, every year.

I've structured my Australian trip so that I can combine a bit of holiday with work. On Boxing Day, I played a club called Room in Melbourne - it was amazing. It's probably the city's main club; in London, it would be the equivalent to Gallery at Turnmills. I've played there before and always really enjoy it. This time of year there are lots of festivals on, but if you're going to play a club, that would be the place. On New Year's Eve I played in Brisbane, at Family, another great club. Although everyone talks about Sydney and Melbourne as being the best club destinations, Brisbane is a big city that is very much into clubbing. On New Year's Day I was back near Bondi at The Coogee Palace on Coogee beach.

New Year's Eve is an eternal dilemma for DJs. It's a toss-up between travelling for money or for pleasure and visiting exotic locations; but you're also fighting against being away from your family and friends. It's a constant mix. I've travelled to certain places where everything comes together with friends, family and work - and it's been perfect. Though last year, I was in Korea and I can't profess to having that many close friends there. It turned out to be cool. It was the first time I'd worked there. It was a big gig and very successful.

DJing is more of a work thing until you know enough people. Places such as Australia and Brazil, for example, are much easier for me to play now because I know lots of people there. I love going to events in Brazil, either in Rio or in São Paulo. The Hotel Fasano in São Paulo is an amazing place to stay. The bar there is beautiful, just like the one in Stanley Kubrick's film The Shining.

A couple of years ago, I was at Angra dos Reis, which is kind of what you'd call Rio's St-Tropez. It's made up of about a hundred small islands off the coast, south of the city. One of them, Mandala Island, is home to a club called Isla Vivo. The only thing on the island is the club, which makes it unique. You can only get there by boat, and you know that everyone who goes there wants to party.

Thailand is a place I've tended to visit for holidays probably more than for work. The main resorts for gigs are Bangkok and Koh Samui, but I travelled to Phuket frequently before the tsunami. I would make Phuket my holiday base and then travel from there to various gigs. Sadly, the tsunami in 2004 has changed everything there. Luckily, Koh Samui wasn't really affected by the tsunami and that's the main party place. It's totally amazing, and a lot of my DJ friends play there. My friend Danny Rampling did his last ever gig there on New Year's Eve - he's retiring.

One place I haven't been to is Pacha in Marrakech. Pacha always seek out exotic locations. It started in Barcelona, but really arrived when it moved to Ibiza. I think deserts and sunny locations are definitely its thing.

Pacha Marrakech opened last year, and I'll be playing at the first anniversary party in early February, which I am really looking forward to. I've been all over the world, but Morocco is the one place I've never visited.

America is a very savvy market, particularly with dance music, so they know me quite well there. Right now it's fashionable to be quite negative about America for obvious political reasons. But despite all that, it is a stunningly beautiful space. New York is like my second home - I've probably visited about 100 times. My biggest regret is not having lived in New York because it's such an amazing city. I still go six or seven times a year and stay at The Mercer or Soho House.

Then there's Miami, which has probably got the most European kind of energy anywhere in America. When I tour in America, I often feel that once I arrive in Miami I've left the rest of the country and entered a new one. Clubbing-wise, Space is as good as any club in the world. LA can also be an amazing place to play. In the club scene, New York and Miami are very strong right now. LA has always been strong. But wherever you go in America, even Boston and Texas, it's obvious they've got the clubbing bug.

Travelling to all these locations can be a bit of a pain sometimes, but once you're up there on the stage, stepping up to the turntables, it's still amazingly exciting. When you get to travel so much, you get to experience so many different environments, that gets you really excited.

Residencies are good as well. I still play at Pure Pacha in Ibiza all through the summer, every week for 17 weeks. I first played in Ibiza in 1986, with my friend Nicky Holloway, at the start of the house scene. This year, we've got some great guest DJs coming to Pacha, including Carl Cox, Danny Howells, Deep Dish, Jeff Mills, Laurent Garnier, Steve Lawler and Satoshie Tomile.

What keeps Ibiza thriving is the fact that the crowd changes every week because everyone's on holiday. Despite what people might think, it's not just full of young people. Ibiza has been reinvigorated by appealing to the young crowd but now also attracts the more upscale, older crowd with a bit of money. Ibiza has gone through a kind of St-Tropez moment in the past few years, just like north Sardinia. A lot of the big money and the big yachts are coming into Ibiza now, so it's got a bit more Hollywood glam and yet it's managed to retain its acid-house roots. That's what makes it really interesting at the moment.

There are still plenty of places in the world that I want to explore. I haven't seen Shanghai or Beijing yet and I haven't really travelled around India or North Africa properly.

As international DJs, it's part of our job to come up with new places, new parties, new venues and new themes to keep the scene fresh and exciting. We need to constantly remember why people want to come to clubs - which is simply to have a great time and to feel the music.

Pete Tong's 'Essential Classics' is out now on Mercury, price £10.99

My best chill-out bar

The place I like most is the bar at Claridge's in London - it's the place to chill out with a vodka martini. It's old-school posh but with amazing class. Sitting on a beach sipping a cocktail is nice, but being in a great city is not to be underestimated. The bar at Claridge's is cool. We've gone through the fashions of minimalism, modernism, trippy etc, but I just think the classics are the classics.

My best sunset

It's the view from Mambo in Ibiza where my radio show comes from. It really has the most staggeringly beautiful sunsets. Mambo is a café bar in a great location and the vista is the horizon - the water ahead of you and the sunset. What makes it special is that you have a couple of focal points in the distance which are a few small islands behind which the sun sets. It's absolutely amazing.

Go with the vibe: An insider's guide

Pace yourself

To keep up your energy don't drink too early, or avoid daytime drinking altogether. People eat lunch, drink a few glasses of wine and then fall asleep. The key is to pace yourself. When working all night, avoid big dinners and daytime drinking. I have to avoid everything.

Invite the right guests

Bill Clinton would be ideal. I've always been very impressed by him, having watched him over the years. He'd know how to enjoy himself. Then perhaps George Best (RIP) and Elvis. I'd also like the chef Giorgio Locatelli to come along. We need someone to cook for us.

Get into the zone

I travel all over the world through different time zones and find the best way to cope is to just ignore the time difference. A lot of people get hung up about jet lag but you've just got to be in the zone psychologically. As soon as you arrive, get on to that time and you'll deal with it.

Let the music move you

'Body Language' by Mandy gets people going. I look for records with spirit, soul and originality, which are also commercial. People forget it's about entertainment. I wouldn't be doing this if I couldn't champion new music. But a mix is the key - and it's supposed to be fun.

It's all in the timing

One thing people often forget to pack when they are travelling is an alarm clock. You really should not underestimate how important an item it is. After all, without one you risk the possibility of oversleeping and missing your plane home.

The latest tunes

The album of the moment has to be Crazy P 'A Night on Earth'. It's not brand new, but it's brilliant. The single 'Lady T' should be a hit - a monster waiting to happen. But 'Can't Get Down' is magic too. It's good home-grown music that stands out. Expect to hear them at all the festivals.

The beat goes on...

When you're on the radio for so long your audience stays the same age but you get older. The new people come in and think of you as a radio DJ and not a club DJ, so I spend a lot of time on the road, searching out new music while I'm playing at destinations around the world.

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