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End of an era: the final Southport Weekender

Everywhere I look at the moment, there seems to be something to remind me that time is passing by like a stampede. Young Walter is the main source, obviously – he’s not a baby anymore… He’s had his first haircut now, he’s threatening to start climbing out of his play ring – next thing I’ll know he’ll be pinching my beer and bringing girls and/or guys home. Jesus, I need to stop that train of thought where it is.

Sadly, another reminder of how little time we have popped up last month, when news of the passing of Tortured Soul’s Ethan White came through. It was a real shock to me – much more so than when I’d heard about Frankie Knuckles‘ death last year.  Whereas Frankie was a hero from a different era from my own musical experience, Tortured Soul are a strand in my own, personal music/clubbing DNA.  They had played live at the first Southport Weekender I ever went to, back in November 2005. It’s fair to say it was a life changing experience – those 3 days utterly restored my passion for house music having been immersed in techno for many years – and one of the main reasons was Tortured Soul’s live performance there.

I was writing a message to a friend about Ethan White when I started doubting my memory, so I had a look back at my old emails to make sure I wasn’t getting my Southports mixed up. I soon came across this email from a guy that we’d bumped into while we were there – this proved it was the right one:

Gareth Morgan wrote:
Hello mate,it was nice to meet you all on friday. I have to say, in all the
years of going out, I’ve never witnessed anything quite on par with Southport.
I can’t wait for the next one! This is Gareth by the way, I spoke to you and
your friends in the main room and asked to do an interview with you for a
Southport feature on my site – ( here goes:

Here’s my reply:

Hi Gareth – sorry about the delay in replying to this, I’ve had a pretty hectic week since Southport. Good to see you on Friday, shame we didn’t bump into each other again over the weekend. Here’s our thoughts:

What are your names? Ben Devereux, Becky Muwanga, Laura Hill, Neil Anstee, Claire Ignaciuk, Emma Tempest

Where are you from? West Yorkshire, Co Durham, Merseyside and London

Who did you go with to Southport? the guys in the photo!

Have you been before, if yes how many times? No – this was the first of many

Which DJ rocked it for you? Couldn’t really choose between Tony Humphries and Kerri Chandler

Which live act rocked it for you? Peven Everett and Dwele were amazing on Sunday, but Tortured Soul probably clinched it.

What was your favourite room? The Powerhouse, followed closely by the B-Bar

What was one of the highlights of your weekend? Sunday afternoon, thinking that it was all coming to an end, but then still knowing we had Dwele and Pevan Everett to come!

How did this years event compare with previous ones? We wish we knew…

The best footie team in England is? The reigning European Champions of course! Or Spurs if you’re asking Neil!

I’m grinning from ear to ear reading that back – sadly, it looks like isn’t around anymore. God knows what the photo looked like,  I don’t know if if it ever ended up on there, but I don’t need pictures anyway.  My previously fuzzy memories are now razor sharp – I could show you the exact spot I stood in the Funkbase listening to Dwele and unless my mind is playing tricks on me, if I close my eyes I can see Tortured Soul on stage, with Christian Urich in the middle on a raised platform playing the drums, JKriv front right on bass and Ethan White on keyboards front left.  In reality it might well have been bass on the left and keyboards on the right, but that’s the picture I see now.  It’s a picture I see everytime I hear something from that first album, which isn’t often enough these days, but if ever there was a time…

It certainly was the first of many Southports, I’m not sure if we’ve missed a year since. When it moved to Minehead in 2011 we were a bit grumpy about the drive, but the show they put on that year (not to mention the slightly less HMP feel about the Butlins down there…) was enough to keep us coming back for more. In 2010 we headed out to the first Suncebeat in Croatia for Becky’s 30th birthday and again, the guys put on the party of our dreams. It was such a special time – we made a birthday card out of a flyer and got it signed by Roy Ayers, Larry Heard, Karizma and even SPW’s own Dave Gardner (not sure he’d remember that though!), as well as all of our friends and even a random guy we kept seeing who looked exactly like Becky’s Uncle Henry. These are the stories I’ll tell Walter’s children, the times of my life.

I was actually just in Minehead for last week’s Bloc weekender (my love for techno survived the house reawakening, don’t worry about that!) and on the way home, I was worrying I might be a bit weekendered out. It seems almost blasphemous to have had the thought, especially after finding out yesterday that this is going to be the last one. I can’t believe it, I really thought I’d be going to Southport til long after I was still able to get away with it. Time marches on though, there’s no denying it. All we can do is try to keep up

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