2014 has been a stand-out year for Southport Weekender. I'm sure any long standing promoter can empathise that dealing with the changing economic climate has been challenging, therefore it's a real achievement to create 4 events in one year. There was a historic Southport Weekender 50th at Butlins in Minehead, followed by a brilliant Suncebeat 5 establishing this event as one of the best parties in wonderful Croatia, on to new addition Camelot in Chorley Lancashire, and later ending with a final fling back at Pontins in Southport for the Southport Heritage Weekender.
The quality music, the line up and passion of the resident DJs continues Southport Weekender's notable reputation and attracts so many outstanding artists, DJs and musicians each year; not forgetting the faithful Southport Weekender punters, whose devotion and love for soulful music keeps this pulse alive and continues a desire to create more events. So how did the first Camelot fare against the stand out moments of 2014?
It was surreal, but felt like good timing to be going to a party still feeling the rays of the summer sunshine, while still noticing the dip change of seasons. In fact, there were a few moments during Camelot that brought flashbacks of being back in Croatia and at Pontins! For some reason, dancing to DJ Bigger at 7pm at Camelot felt like it was 5am on a Saturday at a Pontins Weekender and the Powerhouse reminded me of being in Barbarellas in Petrachane at Suncebeat. It was, unsurprisingly, all very familiar; it's always a family affair with any Southport Weekender event and Camelot was no exception.
There is no doubt the venue is a winner. The sound, the rooms and all the space in-between revealed huge potential for a cracking all nighter, but possibly another weekender for the future, as currently Camelot is a one day and all night event only. Camelot continued the theme of the legendary dance rooms, such as the Powerhouse, The Funk Base, the Connoisseurs Corner, like other Southport Weekender events, but new addition, The Courtyard - Beat Bar Session, was a good spot.
Starting Camelot in exuberant fashion was Afro Coalition, continuing last weekend's carnival vibe outside in the Courtyard. This was definitely the place to be late Saturday afternoon and very encouraging, witnessing local, upcoming DJ's represented at a Southport Weekender event, highlighting Camelot as a real opportunity to uncover and showcase new talent.
Camelot had some fantastic names on the bill such as Dimitri From Paris, Ron Trent, Trevor Nelson, The Unabombers and the Basement Boys featuring Jasper Street Company, who were the only live act on the bill and absolutely smashed it in true Southport Weekender fashion. Just like in Minehead, many punters were saving themselves for Saturday night in the Powerhouse, for Ron Trent to take it to another level. But it's the Southport Weekender residents that always do it for me; hearing Andy Davies and Terry Jones on Saturday afternoon, as well as Bob Jefferies and Colin Curtis in the Connoisseurs Corner, delivering classic, deep dance tunes and soul like no other. Listening to Bigger and Ronnie Herel in the Funkbase, again showing premier skills and not forgetting Kev Beadle and a fantastic set from Gavin Kendrick, really bringing in the Suncebeat flavours from the Dalmatian Coast.
Camelot was a definite treat to be enjoyed, though there weren't too many regulars about. Maybe they're saving themselves for Southport Heritage Weekender considering their impressive line up? However, I see real potential for Camelot to attract a whole host of new punters as, usually, many don't get the chance to experience a Southport Weekender event due to advance pre-book that can prevent many getting to experience this quality event. Combining new energy with the fantastic sounds of the resident DJs and the loyalty of the veterans could really propel Camelot into a corker of an event. The food, however, left something to be desired. That was not jerk chicken! The outdoor space between dance floors could be great for an outdoor BBQ perhaps?
So 2014 continues the trend of Southport Weekender adding greatly to the cutting edge fusion of Britain's love for music. It would be hard to forget Chaka Khan at the SPW 50th, and Suncebeat is going from strength to strength. The first Camelot no doubt revealed a great addition to Southport Weekender events and I'm sure The Heritage Weekender in October will round this year off in magical fashion.
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