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Dimitri From Paris @ This Is London
By: Oswald Jackson
Date: 2006-02-13 15:39:34
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France is known for a lot of great exports; high end fashion, supermodel Laetitia Casta and my favorite, house music. In the mid to late 90’s the music scene in Paris was exploding with disco infused and filtered elements. DJ’s like Bob Sinclar, David Guetta, Laurent Garnier, DJ Deep, Daft Punk, were producing and playing a sound that was slowly catching on worldwide.

In France, many people heard of the Turkish born Dimitri from Paris. In the late 80’s and the early 90’s, he started out playing live sets on many French radio stations, and had created soundtracks for some high profile fashion designers like Chanel and Gaultier. His star was slowly on the rise.

In 1996, Parisian promoters, Respect is Burning launched their weekly Wednesday nights at the Queen club. The theme was simple; open mind, no cover, and some of the best local and international talent on the decks. French house was blowing up. Behind the surge was Dimitri from Paris; the self proclaimed king of disco. The "Secret" party was on the rise.
Even with his brand new, "In the House of Love" compilation (the sequel to his Defected: In the House CD) he didn’t self promote; rather he played what he felt like playing.

By 1999, Respect in Paris was over. It was too big and too hyped for the city. So it went international, with residencies at Twilo in New York City, Metro in Chicago, Fuse in Brussels, D! Club in Lausanne, and the Vega in Copenhagen. Respect and Dimitri (with other rotating DJs) toured the world, exposing their sound to a worldwide audience.

In 2000, the Respect team with Dimitri hit the Playboy Mansion for a magical gig. Later, a CD was produced, complied and mixed by Dimitri from Paris entitled, "A Night at the Playboy Mansion". Fused with an unique blend of disco, samba, and disco house, the compilation was the breakout disc for both Respect and Dimitri. Later that year, the king of disco hit Toronto, brought to town by the milk crew.

I’ve caught Dimitri at Sunnyside Pavilion, This is London, Revival, The Courthouse, Orange Room, a few clubs in Montreal and once in Miami. I’ve noticed that he always attracts a mature crowd that appreciates music and wants to have a good time. So, with that in mind I went to check out my favorite DJ on February 10th at This is London.

SoHo Fridays is the house music oriented night at This is London. The first night, with Deep Dish, was absolutely off the hook. The second night with Cevin Fisher and Scumfrog was lacking in many areas, so I was very interested to see the turnout for Dimitri. The last time I saw Dimitri at This is London was October 4th, 2002. It was an awesome birthday bash that I remember fondly. Would it be the same?

I arrived at midnight to see a line up outside so I was relieved because I didn’t know if the night was going to be busy or not. After a quick search, I was inside and ready to "Live it up"

A quick lap around the venue and I could see that the venue was "comfortably busy". It was busy, but you could walk around without pushing or hassles. The crowd was definitely a London crowd. The majority of the people were older, very well dressed, well mannered, in an upbeat mood, and they were drinking (Bar sales must have been good). I’ve always maintained that house music in an upscale environment is so much more fun than the afterhours scene. I love the idea of enjoying music with individuals who make an effort to look good, but also make the effort to enjoy the party. London wasn’t filled with the bar stars that invaded the Deep Dish party two weeks earlier, rather, everyone knew what they were getting into?

The Milk duo of Felix and Gani opened up for Dimitri as they have done many times in the past. They’ve toured across Canada with Dimitri, so they are a great fit. If I didn’t look at the booth, I would swear it was Dimitri on the decks by the way these guys played. They flowed smoothly and seamlessly, in a way that you enjoyed your time instead of waiting and asking, "So when’s he going on?" The majority of their set was vocal goodness, highlighted by a cool Killer’s remix that the crowd ate up. A couple tracks off of "A Night at the Playboy Mansion" and "After the Playboy Mansion" were the highlights for me.

I must say I love the DJ booth at This is London and I love how everyone faces the DJ. It has a certain aura that just enhances the party. It’s "plus rock ’n’ roll."! Also, the sound system is really beefed up. Man is it ever loud. The headliner came on shortly before 1am and he flowed seamlessly into his set. Now, I’ve seen Dimitri about ten times in my life, and I noticed that his set was very diverse, more so than usual. He probably played one of the better sets I have ever heard from him, not only because it was different, but also because he was really into the receptive crowd and whatever he was experimenting with was working.

You could break down Dimitri’s set into different chunks. The first section was the really eclectic, out there harder sounding stuff. No, he wasn’t Steve Lawler or anything, but he played a lot of songs that (a) I didn’t know and (b) sounded harder from his usual style of disco house and samba. There definitely was a huge range of sounds on this night. The sound system and the environment just enhanced that. I hope the London crew books more diverse/similar sounding DJ’s like (Ben Watt, Joey Negro, Louie Vega, Kevin Hedge, Joe Claussell, etc) because not only could they do damage with their music, the upscale house music lovin’ crowd will come out in full force for sure.

The second part of the set was vocal goodness. Now, I own six different Dimitri compilations and I didn’t recognize most of the songs he played last night. And that’s such a shame because a lot of what he played was really sexy. The vocals really shine through on the speakers at London. You can totally lose yourself in the music because of how smooth the vocals sound. From this vocal set emerged, the best part of the night, the old school and disco classics. Part three of the set was all disco and the crowd really enjoyed it. There were a few younger clubbers in the house, and I was surprised to see them get down to the music. Most of the young clubbers want to hear progressive, tribal, or trance music and sometimes they can’t appreciate other genres of electronic dance music. It is not meant to be a knock on anyone; rather it is just a sign of the times.

This was probably the best set I’ve ever heard from the King of Disco. What’s really interesting is he didn’t really play anything from any of his past discs. Even with his brand new, "In the House of Love" compilation (the sequel to his Defected: In the House CD) he didn’t self promote; rather he played what he felt like playing. The two songs I didn’t recognize "Big Love" (this is the song that turned me from rocker to house head in 1999) and the encore, "Down To Love Town" (Dim’s Disco Citay Remix) were the tracks that made my night.

Around 4am, I believe Brad Copeland went back on the decks, but I left then. I wanted to leave on such a high note and I did. I love music, and sometimes, when I feel I am really bored with the scene in Toronto and I want to hang up my clubbing shoes, an event like this comes out and really makes me enjoy clubbing again. It was so nice to party with different people, and it was fun catching up with all the once hardcore clubbers that came out of the woodwork for this one. I guess I’ll see all you old school people when the next big DJ comes to town.

I have to give respect to the crew at This is London. From the front door (Marco and Rob), to the bartenders, to Felix, Gani, Dimitri, and Brad Copeland, this was such a magical night. SoHo Fridays are 2/3, (well 2.5/3) so far. Let’s see what the line up holds down the road?

Dimitri from Paris new triple CD, "In the House of Love" is out now on Defected. Full of Dimitri’s DJ friendly re-edit’s, this is a perfect unwinding, laidback disco/disco house selection. My picks from it are; Vanessa Dauo - Sunday Afternoon (Danny Tenaglia 501 Dub), Robin Beck - Sweet Talk (Dimitri from Paris Re-Edit), Incognito - Givin It Up (Roger Sanchez Deep Mix-Dimitri’s Re-Edit), and Elaine & Ellen - The Look of Love (Dimitri’s Re-Edit)

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